In my culture, we don’t really use a whole lotta spice in our foods. As far as I know, southern Chinese cooking incorporates mostly very fresh ingredients. Flavors are light, fresh, and naturally sweet. This is so the that the main character of a dish can truly shine. Take fish, for example. WE LOVE FISH. FRESH FISH. My dad is actually OBSESSSSSED with fishing. So I’m no stranger to ocean to table dining (did I just make that up?). The bestttt way to prepare fresh fish is to steam it with julienne’d ginger and big pieces of chopped scallion. At the very end, a heated mixture of oil and soy sauce is poured over it. As we devour the silky fish, sucking on even the eyeballs, all I hear every 5 minutes from my parents is exclamations of the sweetness of the silky meat. Can you imagine it? Not overly salted, no heavy use of seasonings to cover up all the subtle but mouth watering fresh flavors.
I bring that up so I can talk about my relationship with spices. What was cumin and cardamom? What about nutmeg and cloves? And blends like za’atar? I’d never heard of them growing up! I had a chai latte from starbucks once and swore I’d never try another. I crinkled my nose at pupmkin spice lattes. I shoved the thought of spices to the back of my head somewhere. Until relatively recently.
One of the major perks of becoming a food blogger/photographer is that I force myself to try new things. If I found that I didn’t like the taste of a certain ingredient prepared one way, perhaps I should still be opened to it if it were prepared in another.
I talked about my first encounter with cardamom in my other ice cream post. I basically came across the ingredient in ICE CREAM! And it’s honestly my favorite way to use it. It’s a bit gingery, but citrusy. It’s bright and slightly minty too. I think it goes amazingly well with the sweet creaminess of ice cream!
Made with the deeper, more complex flavors of brown sugar, this ice cream sandwiched between chai blondies is like the best freakin cup of creamy chai tea in it’s superior form!
for brown sugar cardamom ice cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
seeds from 6 cardamom pods
for chai blondies (recipe adapted from bromabakery)
8 TBS butter, melted
2 TBS vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Make ice cream ahead of time.
In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, milk, sugar, and cardamom seeds over medium-low heat, mixing to dissolve sugar. (Brown sugar will cause milk to curdle. Don’t worry if this happens, it will come together in the end). While that’s heating up, separate yolks into a medium bowl and whisk for a minute. When cream mixture comes to a simmer (don’t let it boil), remove from heat and slowly stream a third of the mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the yolk mixture back into saucepan. On low heat, stir the mixture until it’s 170 degrees F, or can coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a heat safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap directly touching the mixture to prevent skin forming. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Stir mixture well before pouring into ice cream machine. Churn according to ice cream machine instructions.
Line an 8×8 baking pan with plastic wrap. Pour churned ice cream into pan, smooth the top and freeze for 5 hours or overnight.
make chai blondies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line 8×8 pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, all spices, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
In a separate bowl (or bowl of stand mixer), cream together melted butter, oil, and brown sugar for a few minutes, until lighter in color. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat for a minute.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until combined.
Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool completely. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Carefully cut the chai blondies into two even layers (horizontally like cutting layers of cakes).
Place one later on a cutting board. Remove ice cream from pan and place on top. Place the second later of blondie on top. Press down evenly with hands. Now cut into squares of desired sizes! I usually place my squares back into the freezer for at least an hour before enjoying!