my obsession with cardamom dates back to the summer i spent volunteering in jerusalem. in the old city, there is this coffee shop that sells fresh-ground turkish coffee to order. the aroma of coffee and cardamom hits your nose from down the street, and i would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could resist taking home a half-kilo of it’s potent goodness.
cardamom not only goes amazingly well with coffee, it’s deliciously rich & spicy flavor also lends itself to pair with chocolate, fruit & a plethora of other spices to make both sweet and savory combinations that will blow your mind. i especially love the combination of orange and cardamom, which i first discovered in a pastry from a nearby coffee shop. holy mother of god it is an amazing combination! something about the sweetness of the orange and the spiciness of the cardamom make a mouth-watering combination that i just can’t get enough of!
so when i was gifted several oranges from a friend’s tree, i knew i just HAD to make something that would rock the socks off of the orange-cardamom world. but as it’s a busy week and i have several other projects going on, i wanted something on the quick & easy side.
after brainstorming everything from babka to marmalade, i landed on a new version of a childhood favorite: orange cardamom bars. think grown up lemon bars: buttery flaky shortbread base layer, a satisfyingly gooey middle layer of silky sweet orange and fragrant cardamom, baked to perfection and topped with a crispy sugary crunch.
not that you need any more convincing, but by the way, if you make these your whole house will smell heavenly. just saying.
and without further ado, the recipe. i hope you love them as much as i do!
orange cardamom bars
(an original recipe by melissa slate)
for the dough:
- 1 c flour
- 1/2 c salted butter
- 1/4 c superfine/caster sugar
- 1/2 t vanilla
- preheat an oven to 350 F. set rack in the center position. grease & flour an 8×8 square cake pan.
- mix flour & butter in a medium bowl using a pastry blender or wooden spoon, until the mixture is crumbly.
- add sugar & vanilla and mix with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until it resembles a crumbly cookie dough.
- press into the pan in an even layer, using damp fingertips or waxed paper. pierce all over with a fork and bake for 20-23 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the crust is somewhat puffed & set.
- remove to a cooling rack, leaving the oven on, and allow to cool while you mix up the filling.
for the filling:
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 2/3 c superfine/caster sugar
- 2 T flour
- scant 1/4 c freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 T lemon juice
- 1 T fresh orange zest
- 1 scant t green cardamom seeds, crushed with mortar & pestle
- whisk together eggs, sugar, cardamom & flour.
- add orange & lemon juice and zest and whisk for 2 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and the sugar is melted.
- pour the mixture over the slightly warm crust & bake for an additional 24-26 minutes, or until the custard is mostly set and a thin layer of sugar has crystallized on the top.
- place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting bars into 16 even squares. store in an airtight container in even layer on wax paper or large flattened baking cups in the fridge. will keep, refrigerated, for up to 5 days.