Cardamom, the second most expensive spice next to saffron, is one of the world's oldest spices. Originating from the forests of India's Western Ghats mountain range, the little green pod has traveled far and wide.
Over the centuries cardamom has been used as a tooth cleaner, a perfume and even as a cure to obesity. Today the spice is used more commonly in cooking to flavour both sweet and savory dishes and drinks such as coffee, mulled wines and some liqueurs.
I often cook with the aromatic spice but mostly in curries (although I do use it in rice puddings too). This week I went a step further and used cardamom in a sweet custard with oranges caramelized in palm sugar. The sweet, subtle scent of the cardamom pairs wonderfully with the smooth egg custard. The caramelized orange imparts a hint of citrus sweetness however its main contribution to the dish is aesthetic rather than flavour.
I recommend giving the custard time (overnight) to develop its heady flavour. It's well worth the wait.
Cardamom Custard with Caramelized Oranges
Adapted from Taste.com.au
1 1/4 cups of milk
2/3 cup of palm sugar
8 green cardamon pods, bruised
A pinch of ground cloves
3 large egg yolks
- Heat the milk, 1/3 cup of palm sugar, cardamom and cloves to a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir constantly until the palm sugar dissolves. Turn heat up to medium and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Strain the cardamom milk mixture into the yolks while whisking. Pour mixture evenly into four heatproof ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a steamer.
- Cover steamer and cook for 12-15 minutes. Remove custards from steamer and set aside to cool. I like to refrigerate the custards overnight to develop the cardamom flavour.
- Just before serving, heat up the grill and peel and slice the oranges cross-ways. Place orange slices in a baking dish and spoon on remaining palm sugar evenly over slices.
- Grill oranges for 3-4 minutes or until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Remove from grill and serve with custards.