The wonderful weather we have been experiencing over the past few weeks (thirsty plants notwithstanding) has meant we've actually enjoyed a few meals outside this year. Eating food outside always seems to taste so much better somehow, I don't know whether it's all in the mind or if our senses are energised by the fresh air and sunshine. Outdoor meals for us have mostly been with friends as our garden is a little on the small side and not really suitable for outdoor eating. I keep thinking I must plan a tea party down at our plot, but the best I have managed so far was to have a take away supper down there. Our latest meal was a BBQ eaten out in a garden surrounded by flowers, fields and views. I had just read about Strawberry and Clotted Cream Shortcakes at Clotted Cream Diaries, which I really liked the sound of. This reminded me of the delicious Chocolate and Cinnamon Shortbread that I made back in May last year. Marrying these two things together, I took along chocolate cardamom shortbread, strawberries in a little cardamom, rose and mint syrup and clotted cream for pudding. I based this recipe on the cinnamon one, substituting the semolina for polenta and the cinnamon for cardamom.
This is how I made the shortbread:
- Creamed 175g unsalted butter with 75g caster sugar
- Sifted in 20g cocoa, 60g polenta, 170g plain flour, a pinch of salt and the ground seeds from 6 cardamom pods.
- Formed this into a ball with my hands and rolled out to about 1/2 cm thick then cut into rounds.
- I wasn't expecting this mixture to spread so placed the rounds quite closely together on a lined baking sheet. They spread, so I didn't get perfect rounds!
- Baked at 180C for 8 mins.
- Left to cool slightly then transferred onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dusted lightly with caster sugar
Although the recipe was virtually the same as the cinnamon squares I had previously made, these were completely different, but equally delicious. Last year's version was deep and soft in the centre, these ones were like biscuits and had a lovely crunchy texture. The cardamom gave a really intriguing exotic twist which went well with the strawberries. The clotted cream made it into a virtually unbeatable outdoor desert!