It’s mid-May, but the weather feels more like a blustery March. It’s enough to make me start despairing that summer will pass us by yet again, but for now I’m still holding out hope that warmer weather is just around the corner. But if we can’t have warm sunshine in reality, we can at least bring it to our table with some citrus and a sunny dessert like this.
I met a friend and her newborn baby for lunch recently at The Kitchen in Drogheda. Located on the quays with a view of the Boyne River, the room is nice and bright and the menu changes weekly. They were doing a brisk lunchtime trade on the Friday we were there (get the lamb koftas if they’re on the menu!) and the orange and cardamom jelly caught my eye when it was time to think about dessert. To be honest I couldn’t taste the cardamom in it, but I loved the sound of the flavour combination and wanted to experiment with it in my own kitchen.
Cardamom seems to be a trendy spice right now, but it does lend these jellies, normally a kiddie favourite, a more grown-up dimension. These jellies would be a lovely palate-cleansing finish to a summer dinner party — if summer ever comes.
Orange and Cardamom Jelly with Candied Pistachios
Serves 4 to 6
Any jelly is a great make-ahead dessert and this one’s no exception, including the candied pistachios. Any leftover nuts could be sprinkled on ice cream or added to your breakfast granola. Double check the instructions on your packet of gelatine to make sure 1 sachet is enough to set 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid. I used 6 cardamom pods when I made this and the jelly had a pronounced cardamom flavour — I think 5 pods might be a happy medium, but use 4 if you want a more subtle hint of spice.
for the orange and cardamom jelly:
500 ml (2 cups) freshly squeezed orange juice (4 to 6 oranges)
50 g (1/3 cup) icing sugar
4 to 6 cardamom pods, depending on how strong you want the flavour to be
1 x 13 g sachet of powdered gelatine
Greek or natural yoghurt, to serve
for the candied pistachios:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon water
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
100 g (1 cup) shelled unsalted pistachios
To make the jellies, add the orange juice to a non-reactive pot and whisk in the icing sugar. Crush the cardamom pods with the flat of a knife or with a pestle and mortar to release the seeds, then add them to the pot, pods and all. Bring the orange juice mixture to a boil, then immediately remove it from the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside for at least 15 minutes or up to half an hour to allow the flavour of the cardamom to infuse the juice. Strain the mixture into a bowl through a fine sieve when it’s had its time and taste it, adding more icing sugar if you think it needs it.
Boil a little water (about 50 ml / 1/4 cup) and pour it into a mug, then sprinkle the gelatine over. Whisk until the gelatine dissolves, then add it to the strained orange juice. Pour the jelly mixture into 4 to 6 jelly moulds, ramekins, glasses, jars, etc. and place in the fridge to set, which will take at least a few hours.
To make the candied pistachios, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Stir the brown sugar, water, cinnamon and salt together in a small pot over a medium heat, until the sugar dissolves. Add in the pistachios and stir to coat them in the sugar mixture, then spread them out on the lined baking tray. Bake for about 10 minutes. Allow the nuts to cool and harden on the tray, then roughly chop them.
Garnish each serving of jelly with a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle over some candied pistachios.