Sometimes it just has to go cardamom in my kitchen. I start dreaming about flavour swaps and find my hands magically clutching a baggie of army-green pods from that crazy mishmash called my spice drawer. I hold the bag and … sigh.
No, I start cussing, wondering aloud if I have the cooking mojo in me to ferret out their cache. Will my cold, stiff fingers find the fortitude to single out each and every one of these tiny seeds that bear an uncanny resemblance to mouse turds?
Cardamom pods aren’t like those happy, smiling pistachio nuts, each cracked and cooperative. These babies are sealed shut like an exotic, perfumed temptress.
Thus, they bring out the pounder in me.
I’ve tried crushing them under my chef’s knife like garlic cloves – but lo, they slide and slither. I’ve grabbed a sheet of wax paper and hammered a rolling pin over them a few times, to absolutely no avail, except for a heap of shredded wax paper.
Luckily, an adorable silver mortar and pestle comes to my rescue.
I throw a handful of pods in the bowl and happily clunk the silver pestle down until I hear crunch after satisfying crunch, splitting and cracking, dispersing their wealth.
The very first pod reaps a clump of tar-black seeds. I can hear my East Indian cooking teacher intoning “Only the black ones are good” as I crack open pod after pod that she’d obviously throw out. A sliver fuzzy membrane is scattered among my largely brown, verging on beige collection. I drop it all into my spice grinder and grimace, again, because fifteen minutes of finicky fine motor work hasn’t even covered my spice grinder’s blade!
Despite this ominous beginning, the seeds whirl into a satisfying silvery and soft powder that trails up into my waiting nostrils with an explosion of menthol and sweet, peppery perfume that is unmistakably cardamom.
Why don’t I just throw up a white flag and buy it ground?
Because I want flavour. Whole spices that are crushed or ground right before use, release essential oils full of oomph. And oomph is what I have planned for this special little biscotti packed with toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds, filled with organic flours, eggs, sugar and vanilla then made perfect thanks to cardamom in the batter. I finish each and every log of biscotti dough with a sparkle of cardamom sugar.
Just a pinch will do it.
I really can’t live in a house without biscotti. They are my go-to cookie and a welcome gift to friends and family . Thanks to the double bake, they store for weeks, even months in a closed glass container and travel well on airplanes and road trips.
1 cup whole, raw almonds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 ¼ cup organic all purpose flour
1 ¼ cup organic soft whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups organic granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla
The Finishing Touches:
1-3 tbsp flour (for rolling out logs)
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp organic granulated
Preheat oven to 350 ° F.
To toast almonds, arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Add pumpkin seeds to the sheet and bake another 5 minutes. Allow nuts and seeds to cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cardamom and salt. Use a whisk to mix thoroughly.
Whisk eggs and vanilla in bowl of an electric mixer until frothy. Use the paddle attachment to mix in flour and sugar mixture. As soon as the dough clumps around the paddle, add toasted almonds and pumpkin seeds and mix until just combined.
Dust countertop with flour. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Spoon out one quarter of the sticky dough, dust lightly with flour and working quickly, roll into a 8-10 inch log. Transfer log to baking sheet. Repeat 3 times.
In a small bowl, mix sugar and cardamom. Sprinkle over logs with pinched fingers.
Bake for 30 minutes or until biscotti logs are golden and firm. Completely cool logs on a rack for at least 30 min. Using a serrated knife, cut crosswise into 3/4 inch wide slices. Arrange cut side down on baking sheets and return to 350 oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden-brown and crisp.