Sunshine in a bowl: mango sorbet

mango sorbetSummer is well and truly over so what to do when you can’t find sunshine outside? Just get some on your plate! This was the perfect ending to a very successful thai cooking workshop (my kitchen was the backdrop, the chef a bubbly laotian colleague of mine and the food totally yummy!) and a great excuse to test my new pride and joy: our kitchen aid, including the ice cream maker. Finally, it’s another way to eat more cardamom, anything I can add that spice to just makes me happy. I looked on the internet to find a great recipe and in the end decided to go with my own blend. Here’s how to make it:

Cut 2 mangos in chunks, add 150 g icing sugar, the juice of 2 limes and the crushed seeds of 5 cardamom pods (optional of course, you can just leave them out or add any flavour you prefer with mango, such as mint leaves for example) and mix to make a smooth puree (you can also do this in a food processor of course).

Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn to freeze according to the instructions of the manufacturer (it only took 20 min in my kitchen aid bowl). Transfer to a container and put in the freezer until you are ready to eat it. That’s it!

Don’t have an ice cream maker or the patience to freeze this stuff for a couple of hours? You can also use a short cut: just buy frozen mango in the supermarket and take it out of the freezer 10-15 min before you want to eat your sorbet. Mix it and serve: you now have a 100% fruit sorbet that is good for you and your diet! If you want you can add some sugar, lime juice … but you will notice it doesn’t need it. This also works with any other type of frozen fruit, such as forest fruit or raspberries. Enjoy!

Sunshine on a plate: mango and cardamom panna cotta

Mango and cardamom panna cottaTo thank my sister and her boyfriend for their help in our apartment, I invited them for dinner. Of course, I needed a delicious dessert to go with it, and I didn’t find anything to my liking in my cookbooks. As summer seems to be finally over, I wanted to enjoy some last summer tastes before it’s too late, so I wanted to make something with mango. This seemed a great excuse to use cardamom as well, it’s one of my favourite spices and it goes really well with mango! So I decided to freewheel a bit and invent my own recipe for a mango and cardamom panna cotta. Here’s how I did it:

Put 5 leaves of gelatine in a bowl of cold water (they have to be fully covered) and set aside for 5 min. In the mean time, put 400 ml double cream or whipping cream (you need at least 30% fat contents) in a pan with 150 ml milk100 g caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract (or the seeds of a vanilla pod) and stir to combine. Gently heat the mixture while stirring occasionally until it’s almost boiling. In the mean time, peel 1 to 2 mangos at room temperature, cut into chunks and mix in a blender until smooth (1 mango gives a subtle taste, two will make it more pronounced). Add the hot cream to the blender and blend again until smooth. Check if the mixture is still quite hot, if not you can heat it through a bit. Add the crushed seeds of 5 cardamom pods (the flavour will come through very well, if you prefer it to be subtle, stick to 3 pods instead). Take of the heat and add the gelatine leaves one by one (squeeze out all the water first) and stir well. Pour the mixture into dariole moulds and put in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours or overnight.

To unmould the panna cotta, dip the bottom of the moulds in hot water for a few seconds to loosen them, then turn them upside down on a serving plate. They may need a few sharp jerks of the hand for them to come out. If this fails, run a small knife around the side of the mould to loosen slightly. Or just don’t bother taking them out of the moulds at all. I served the panna cotta on it’s own, but if you prefer you can add some raspberry coulis as well. Enoy while listening to Sunrise by Norah Jones.

Use up some cardamom in a cardamom loaf or a chocolate and cardamom mousse. If you got more mangos than you can handle, try a lime and mango cake.

Foolproof classic: chocolate and cardamom mousse

Chocolate mousseMost people never grow tired of chocolate mousse, it’s the kind of dessert that goes “missing” if left overnight in the fridge. I’m adding cardamom to this recipe because I just love the taste, but if you prefer the classic no frills version, just leave out the cardamom and keep the rest of the recipe as is.

Put 4 ramekins or glasses in the fridge to chill while you make the chocolate mousse (this will allow them to chill more easily). Separate 4 eggs and beat the egg yolks in a bowl with 4 tbsp sugar until you get a white and foamy mass. Meanwhile, melt 150 g dark chocolate (you can use milk chocolate as well, but this will make the end result less mouse-like) with the crushed seeds of 3 cardamom pods (optional) in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Take of the heat and cool for a few minutes, then add to the egg yolks and stir to incorporate. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites (this will make it easier to whisk them) and whisk until stiff (you have to be able to hold the bowl upside down!). Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mix and divide between your ramekins. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Enjoy while listening to Sugar Sugar by The Archies.

Liked the taste of cardamom? Then you will love a cardamom loaf.

Use up left-over chocolate in chocolate chip cookies, rocky road squares, regular brownies or chocolate and raspberry brownies.  Got chocolate mousse left? Use it to fill your sachertorte.

Ready for winter: cardamom loaf

Cardamom loafI’m a winter type: I love the cold, evenings in front of the fire, long walks on the beach when it’s freezing, and of course Christmas! So when I bought The Hummingbird Bakery’s Cake Days book, this cardamom loaf was one my “must try this”-list. Of course, it was summer, and cardamom is such a warm and wintery spice that I had to wait for the right time. I hear you say “but it’s still August?!”. Ah yes, but with the time we’re having, we’ve been complementing each other on what a lovely autumn weather we’re getting. And autumn is the right time for a cardamom loaf! Did you know that Belgium is now officially the wettest country in the world? We beat the UK, can you believe it? On the other hand, we’re finally a world champion at something… although that could be because of lack in participants.

Anyway, back to the cardamom loaf! If you are wondering what to do with the rest of the cardamom, you can use it to make speculaas or you can add a few cardamom pods to the water when you’re boiling rice for a change in flavour, very delicious! Or just make more loafs, this is such a fast and easy recipe that it already became a favorite in my house!

First, preheat the oven to 160 C and grease a loaf tin with butter and dust it with flour (or put a layer of baking parchment in it instead). Mix 190 g softened butter with 190 g caster sugar and the crushed seeds of 10 cardamom pods (split them and crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add 3 eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add 1/4 tsp salt and half of 190 g self-raising flour (or use plain flour and add 1 tsp baking powder), mix again and add the other half of flour again mixing until it is just incorporated. Finally, mix in 1 tsp vanilla essence and 25 ml soured cream (if, like me, you don’t have soured cream around, just use plain cream instead and add a splash of lemon juice, it works just as well).

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 min until the sponge is firm and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool a little in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. I’m sure you can keep this cake for a few days, but I can’t say for sure, ours was gone too quickly! Enjoy!