Truth be told, today's cardamom adventure started with my aunt, yesterday. I spent the day at her house visiting with her and my cousins, and when I left she gifted me a basket of ripe kumquats straight from her tree!
Sweet, citrusy, and tangy, they are delicious alone or in a salad or dip. My aunt has a fabulous kumquat dip recipe that involves Neufchâtel and dried cherries. I was tempted to make it once I got home but didn't have any Neufchâtel on hand. One Pinterest search later and I was pondering the possibilities of Kumquat Cardamom Bars. This intrigued me because I have a giant bag of cardamom pods that I've been wanting to experiment with.
They're from Kavita Grocery, a great Indian grocer on Venice Blvd. in West LA.
So, I needed to grind up the seeds before I could get started on making the Kumquat Cardamom Bars. I peeled a few handfuls of pods, popped out the seeds, and wished I had a mortar and pestle. But, I improvised, which was actually quite fun. I like creative problem solving!
My St. Monica mug to the rescue! I ground them up using my ceramic mug as a tool against my small marble slab. Worked beautifully.
Once I had two teaspoons of ground cardamom, I got to work on the bars!
I decided to make them based off my mom's Lemon Bar recipe I posted about last January. All I did was add two teaspoons of ground cardamom seeds to the shortbread dough, and added chopped kumquats to the lemony topping. Also, I didn't have enough lemons to produce a half cup of juice, so I improvised by supplementing it with a few tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange juice.
The result is spectacular. I am in love with cardamom shortbread. (See the little dark specs in the crust?) I will definitely be experimenting with this spice in future recipes. And even though kumquats are small, they really pack a punch. Kazow! These are a win!