I make no secret of my love affair with cardamom. Whether it comes in the form of chai, cookies, granola, or cocktails, (or cake, or pancakes, or crumble…) I’m all over it. So when I learned that smoked cardamom was a thing, I thought my brain might explode.

Smoked Cardamom Ice Cream recipe, Cardamom Ice Cream recipe

Black cardamom is usually used in savoury dishes, such as rice, but I couldn’t stop dreaming of a smokey, spiced ice cream swirled with gooey, salty caramel and honey. It’s truly like nothing I’ve ever tasted. Actually, that’s not entirely true; it reminds me a bit of some bacon ice cream I tried years ago – savoury and sweet, a little earthy, and a surprise to the tastebuds.

Smoked Cardamom Ice Cream Recipe


For the ice cream:

  • 175 mL half-and-half cream
  • 6 black cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (the regular stuff, i.e., black seeds from green pods)
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
  • 120 ml heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams organic cane sugar

For the caramel:

  • 60 ml water
  • 80 grams honey
  • 1 teaspoon strained lemon juice
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 15 grams unsalted butter
  • 120 grams heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky salt, such as Maldon (or a few pinches of sea or kosher salt)

smoked cardamom ice cream hi res-1


1. Make the ice cream base

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the 1 cup half and half, black cardamom, ground cardamom, and vanilla pod and scrapings. Warm over a medium flame until hot and steamy, swirling the pan occasionally to prevent scorching. Cover and let steep 20-30 minutes. Re-warm the mixture until hot again. Place the heavy cream the remaining 1/2 cup of the half and half in a large bowl, and place the strainer over the top. Set aside.

In a medium bowl set on a damp towel, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and sugar until combined. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the hot dairy into the yolk mixture. Pour the custard back into the pot, return the vanilla pod, and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly with a heat-proof silicone spatula, until the mixture begins to ‘stick’ (form a film on) the bottom of the pot (you will have to tilt the pan to see this) or registers 170ºF on an instant-read thermometer, 3-5 minutes.

Immediately pour the custard through a strainer and into the bowl of cold dairy. (I rinse and dry my vanilla pods, and stick them in a jar of alcohol to make extract.) Cover and chill until very cold, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, and up to 2 days.

2. Make the caramel

Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame until hot and steamy, swirling the pan occasionally. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, pour the water into a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the honey and lemon juice, then carefully pour the sugar into the center of the pan. If any sugar crystals stick to the sides of the pan, brush them down into the water with moistened fingers. Cover the pot with a lid and, without disturbing the pan, cook over a medium flame until the sugar is dissolved, about three minutes (the steam will wash down any wayward sugar crystals). Remove the lid and continue to boil, without stirring, until the mixture turns a deep amber, gently tilting the pan to encourage even caramelization, brushing down the sides of the pan with a damp pastry brush if you see any pesky sugar crystals forming on them. This will only take a few minutes; watch the pot carefully toward the end, and reduce the heat to low if you’re nervous.

When the mixture turns a dark amber (if the mixture is bubbly, you may need to place a drop of caramel on a white, heat-proof plate to check), immediately swirl in the butter, then gently and slowly whisk in the cream. Return the pot to a low flame and whisk gently to dissolve any hardened caramel that may be hanging out on the bottom or corners of the pan. Strain the caramel into a heat-proof bowl, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled and thickened slightly. Stir in the flaky salt, crushing any extra-large bits between your fingers.

Store the caramel in an airtight jar. It will keep at room temperature for up to a day, or chilled for up to a month.

3. Finish your creation

Place the ice cream base in the freezer for 30 minutes to get it really cold, stirring it every 10 minutes. Place an 8×4″ or 9×5″ loaf pan in the freezer. Have the caramel at a drizzle-able room temperature. Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker until it is the consistency of soft-serve. Working quickly, spread 1/3 of the ice cream in the bottom of the frozen loaf pan. Drizzle with 1/4 of the caramel. Repeat until you’ve used up all the ice cream and most of the caramel. Drag a toothpick or skewer back and forth through the top layer of caramel to give it a pretty swirl. Freeze the ice cream for one hour, then press a piece of plastic wrap onto the top of the ice cream and continue freezing until firm, 2-4 hours, or up to several weeks.