The most remarkable kitchen innovations are born as often from endless, meticulous tinkering as they are from mishap, merriment, or laziness (see: Stella Parks’ roasted sugar). Laziness, though, is often, at its core, resourcefulness. (Laziness just needs a rebranding!)

Keep your eye on that green-ish sugar in the top center—that's our star.
Keep your eye on that green-ish sugar in the top center—that’s our star.
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Because when you’re tasked with producing food on a large scale, like slicing twelve quarts of cherry tomatoes or zesting forty lemons for custard pies (exhibit A and B, ladies and gentlemen), you’d be wise to find a better, faster, some-might-call-it “lazier” way to get the job done.

And the latest example of a serendipitous fluke? The intoxicatingly fragrant, freshly toasted cardamom that’s making an appearance on the menu at the all-day café Golda in Brooklyn. In hopes of making cardamom pods easier to crack open, pastry chef Charmaine McFarlane decided to toast the whole pods, rather than just the seeds inside. But then she threw caution to the wind, bypassing any pesky cracking in favor of tossing the entire spice into the oven and then the blender.

Cardamom Custard Bun: sweet yeast dough flavored with fresh cardamom and fennel seed; dipped in butter and toasted cardamom sugar and filled with vanilla custard. Out of sheer laziness {fatigue, really}, I toasted whole cardamom pods in a slow oven hoping the pod would be easier to crack. Then I said, ‘fuck it’ and put the whole pod on the Vita and whizzed away. What emerged was the most intensely intoxicating aroma I’ve ever experienced: sweet, citrusy, earthy, spicy, and floral all at once. I may have found a substitute for my beloved vanilla. And you’ll never see me cracking a cardamom pod by hand again. #middleeastern #breakfast #pastry #cardamom

A post shared by Charmaine McFarlane (@thesugarchef) on Aug 21, 2017 at 11:58am PDT

What she came away with was more aromatic than typical ground cardamom, with a sweeter, earthier, warmer flavor profile that’s particularly suited to baked goods—cookies, cakes, cobblers, steamed puddings, and the tahini linzer tarts and custard buns at Golda. (For frozen and/or refreshing desserts—like ice creams and custards, where she wants to emphasize the spice’s cooling sensation—she’ll return to convention, discarding the pods and grinding just the seeds.)

When I made the whole ground cardamom in the Food52 kitchen, the scent was more intense than
I could have predicted—one whiff was like the first look through a pair of newly-cleaned glasses, like I had never really experienced cardamom before. (I had trouble concentrating on anything else with the open container nearby.)

Tahini shortbread/ toasted cardamom/ raspberry jelly come eat some cookies ???#bedstuy #brooklynbaker #brooklyn #clintonhill #cookiemonster #linzertart #sugarchef #happy

A post shared by Golda (@goldakitchen) on Aug 24, 2017 at 4:56am PDT

Rather than attempt to copy any of of McFarlane’s masterful desserts, I decided to use my ground cardamom in a much simpler way: a version of cinnamon toast that trades the cinnamon-sugar for cardamom-sugar and, as a nod to her cardamom bun’s custard center, the butter for cream cheese, which bubbles and oozes in the oven.

I prefer a wheaty bread, like the honey-whole wheat variation of Alexandra Stafford’s No-Knead Peasant Bread, but brioche or white sandwich bread would be just as delicious. And if the idea of spreading cream cheese on a non-bagel carb gives you the heebie-jeebies (why? why is this? discuss in the comments below!), switch back to butter.

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Fresh, Fragrant Cardamom Toast

By Sarah Jampel

View Full Recipe

You can keep the whole toasted cardamom pods in an airtight container for up to one month. Once ground, use the cardamom within a week for optimum freshness. To prevent the ground spice from clumping, you can store it mixed with sugar; start with 2 or 3 teaspoons of cardamom per 1 cup of sugar, then use that sugar in your next cake batter or cookie dough. Alternatively, use your freshly-ground cardamom wherever you would normally tip in the jar of store-bought powder—I’d recommend starting with a bit less than the recipe calls for (this is potent stuff!).

Once you’ve made your fair share of cardamom-sugar toast, put your stash to work in the recipes below (and get ready to make your kitchen more fragrant than you’ve ever smelled it before):

Cardamom Doughnuts
Cardamom Doughnuts
by Amanda Hesser
Cardamom Crumb Cake
Cardamom Crumb Cake
by Dorie Greenspan
Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles
Cardamom Currant Snickerdoodles
by fiveandspice
Pistachio Cake with Lemon, Cardamom, and Rose Water
Pistachio Cake with Lemon, Cardamom, and Rose Water
by Sarah Jampel
Leila Lindholm’s Classic Swedish Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns
Leila Lindholm’s Classic Swedish Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns
by The Curious Pear
Pistachio Meringue Cake with Citrus, Candied Kumquats, & Cardamom Caramel Sauce
Pistachio Meringue Cake with Citrus, Candied Kumquats, & …
by Food52
Carrot Halva with Cloves, Cardamom, and Fudge
Carrot Halva with Cloves, Cardamom, and Fudge
by Sumayya Usmani
Lemony Hazelnut Cake with Fall Fruit & Cardamom
Lemony Hazelnut Cake with Fall Fruit & Cardamom
by Sarah Jampel
Padma Lakshmi's Clouds of Cardamom & Cashew Cookies
Padma Lakshmi’s Clouds of Cardamom & Cashew Cookies
by Food52
Cinnamon-Sugar Cardamom Rolls
Cinnamon-Sugar Cardamom Rolls
by Posie Harwood
Pistachio Cardamom Nutella
Pistachio Cardamom Nutella
by Madhuri Sharma
Smoky Cardamom Ginger-Molasses Cookies
Smoky Cardamom Ginger-Molasses Cookies
by Carey Nershi
Andrea Nguyen's Cashew and Cardamom Fudge (Kaju Barfi)
Andrea Nguyen’s Cashew and Cardamom Fudge (Kaju Barfi)
by Genius Recipes
Sour Cream Cardamom Pear Cake
Sour Cream Cardamom Pear Cake
by Posie Harwood
Citrus and Cardamom Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts
Citrus and Cardamom Baklava with Pistachios and Walnuts
by Alexandra V. Jones
Cardamom Lemon Sticky Buns
Cardamom Lemon Sticky Buns
by fiveandspice

What’s your favorite spice to add to baked goods? Tell us in the comments below.

SOURCES: VEGGIENUMNUM FOOD52 THEBUTTY
SMITTENKITCHEN NOTWITHOUTSALT HOWSWEETEATS

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