Last week my friend and I journeyed up to Harriet's Bluff in Georgia once again to forage for some fruit. This time, we picked blackberries. Gerard the owner was there again, gleefully greeting us and riding around on his tractor. It was hot. So very, very hot. We lasted only an hour, but managed to fill up two large containers worth of berries. We were picking at high speed. Super berry pickers.
Maybe it was the heat that prompted me to turn these tart little berries into iceblocks. Iceblocks. It's what we call them back home. You may very well know them to be popsicles, but today I have decided to stick with the much more literal and my native tongue version of the kind.
I hadn't experimented with matching flavours with blackberries before. Their tartness never really hooked me in the way that other sweeter berries would. So mostly, I would just pair them with their other berry friends on top of yogurt, in smoothies or simply just on their own. However, for this recipe I was searching for something special. It just so happened that I had been yearning to find the perfect excuse to use one of my favourite spices of all the spices out there - the lovely little seed pod that is Cardamom. My first introduction to this spice was made during my time living in Sweden. There was a flavour that kept sneaking into my busicuits, buns and tea. I didn't recognise it and so I just assumed that it was a special exotic ingredient that would keep popping up as it may, and that I would have to just savour whenever I could. It wasn't until I really became interested in cooking Swedish food and breaking down the ingredients in recipes that I learnt what Cardamom was. Now, I can't get enough. Swedish pepparkakor will always be my favourite place to add it.
These iceblocks turned out to be quite the fun summer experiment. Blackberries met cardamom who met almond milk. The almond milk was an afterthought, and it was an afterthought that I was glad to have had. Cardamom loves creamy flavour and texture, so the final addition of almond milk seemed perfect. I enjoyed the flavour combination result - sweet yet still a little tart, while being creamy and a little exotic - Scandinavian type exotic I suppose. If you ever have a go at making them, I would love to know your thoughts. I'd like to think that I have made a bold iceblock hit. But, it is still very possible that I should very well leave the cardamom in it's safe and suited place of a plate of Swedish pepparkakor... please, let me know.
Blackberry Almond + Cardamom Iceblocks
prep time: 1 hour
cook time: 15 minutes
set time: 2 hours
total time: 3 hours 15 minutes
yields: approx 8 medium iceblocks
1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
600mls / 2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
6-8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Place the almond milk, 2 tablespoons of sugar and cardamom pods in a saucepan over high heat. Just before the milk comes to a boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, allow to cool down and place in the fridge to infuse overnight, or at least an hour. Place the berries into a medium saucepan with about 2 tablespoons of water. Be careful not to cook the berries - the heat is only to help the berries release their juice. Use a potato masher to crush the juice out as they heat. Once the berries are mostly crushed and all of the juice is released, pour into a fine strainer over a bowl. Press the berries to extract as much juice as possible until all you are left with is pulp. Save the pulp for a rainy day (or throw away), you only need the juice. Place the juice back in the saucepan, add 1/4 cup of sugar and heat the syrup mixture over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Evenly pour the berry syrup into each popsicle mold. This should fill up to 1/3 of each mold. Put in your iceblock sticks and set in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until firm. Once set, pour the almond cardamom milk to fill up each mould, leaving a little room at the top for the liquid to expand. Place in the freezer once again for another couple of hours until firm.