Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's all about cardamom.....


If anyone out there is thinking that I'm obsessing about cardamom they're wrong! Wrong I tell you! There are plenty more things that I do obsess about - read on for examples - I'm just fond of cardamom, especially when it is accompanied by chocolate.

I made these at Christmas to give as presents - hence the label above. I guess they are an alternative to bittermints without all that nasty refined sugar in the middle. If you can get hold of dried rose petals, they really make them look special. Rose and cardamom are very warming for your digestion. This means that they are a good after dinner treat, to help the food digest.

They also warm your spleen, (according to Chinese medicine this is the organ of hope and creativity) it's where sugar cravings come from and really responds to being warmed; by foods, touch, movement and the sun. With a summer like this one, cold, damp and disappointing, your spleen gets a bit tired, leading to sweet cravings. Of course, I am just talking about your spleen energetically - not the organ itself. Foods that are hot, pungent and naturally sweet nourish your spleen energy and refined foods sap it. So just remember that a few of these babies can act as medicine (but the whole box would be plain gluttonous!)

Cardamom and Rose Pastilles

250g Dark Fairtrade Chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
10-15 Green Cardamom Pods
Handful Edible Dried Rose Petals
Clingfilm

Cover a few chopping boards (or pieces of card / upside down roasting trays) with clingfilm, making sure it is tightly secured underneath to give a good surface.

Break the chocolate up into small pieces, keeping 50g aside. Melt the 200g in a bowl over gently simmering water, stirring very gently, only occasionally - too much will make the chocolate grainy. Meanwhile, chop the remaining 50g into very small pieces - the smaller the better.

Bash the cardamom pods to split them and grind the black seeds in a pestle and mortar. Have the rose petals and ground cardamom ready next to the cling filmed boards for the next stage.

This stage is called tempering the chocolate and should make sure that it remains glossy and crisp when cool. It's only a rough version - the real thing involves thermometers. If you have one, there are instructions elsewhere on the web and you will get a more reliable result - but I seem to do fine with this one.

The chocolate has reached the right temperature when it feels hot to your finger - don't heat it too much or you will taint the taste of the chocolate and it may split. It just needs to be hotter than warm, if that makes sense? Take the bowl off the heat adding the chopped chocolate and stir gently every 30 seconds until it has melted. Then Put the bottom of the bowl into a sink with a bit of cold water in - but make sure the water doesn't get anywhere near the chocolate or it will seize. Stir gently every 30 seconds until the chocolate feels about blood temperature. Then put it back over the simmering water and heat again until it turns liquid. As soon as it does, take off the heat, dry the bottom of the bowl and get on with the pastilles.

Drop teaspoonfuls of chocolate onto the cling filmed surfaces and spread out quickly into a disk about 3-5mm thick. Every few disks, stop and sprinkle cardamom powder and rose petals over, while the chocolate is still liquid. You need to work quickly! If the chocolate starts to go fudgy in the bowl, heat it up until it is liquid again.

Leave the pastilles to set overnight somewhere dry and cool, before boxing them in waxed paper or an airtight tin. Keep them cool, but not in the fridge.