Cardamom and White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries with Pistachios and Rose Petals

When I started traveling abroad I found myself in places where cardamom was a staple.  Though I wasn’t particularly fond of cardamom as a child, I quickly learned that declining a dish with cardamom on my travels would mean missing out on traditional North Indian dishes such as rajma and paneer makhani.  I would have had to forego Arabic coffee and tea while traveling through Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and I would have missed an opportunity to taste authentic biriyani when I was in Pakistan.  With my desire to taste as much as I could, I began to open my mind and my taste buds to cardamom once again – and I’ve never looked back.  

Lately I've been experimenting with new uses for this old-world spice in more modern-day dishes – this is my way of saying you’ll see cardamom popping up in many of my recipes.  I recently discovered that adding just a few finely ground seeds of cardamom to white chocolate adds a subtly sweet smokiness to the chocolate and creates the perfect coating for ripe and luscious strawberries.  Topped with some chopped pistachios and dried rose petals, this dessert is as flavorful as it is beautiful.

For this particular recipe, I like to use white chocolate as opposed to milk or dark, which can overpower the cardamom.  I’ve learned that the key to perfectly dipped strawberries is ensuring that the strawberries are completely dry. Any water left from rinsing or any sticky bruised areas, may prevent the coating from sticking to the strawberry. Drops of water can also make the chocolate seize up and become grainy during the dipping process, so I recommend rinsing the strawberries, gently patting off the excess water with an absorbent towel, and then laying them out on a clean dish towel until they are completely dry.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. long stemmed dipping strawberries (NOTE: If your grocery store doesn’t carry long-stemmed dipping strawberries, regular strawberries can be used by simply inserting toothpicks at the top if the strawberries during the dipping process)
  • ½ cup dried rose petals (available at most Mediterranean or Middle Eastern markets)
  • ½ cup chopped pistachios

For the Dipping Chocolate

  • 12 oz. high quality white chocolate melting wafers
  • 4 small green cardamom pods or ¼ tsp ground cardamom powder

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Rinse the strawberries under cool running water and gently pat dry. The strawberries need to be completely dry before dipping, so spread them out and let them air-dry if necessary.

Fill the bottom of the double-boiler or saucepan with an inch or two of water and bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  While waiting for the water to heat up, shell the cardamom pods and ground the seeds into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

Transfer all the chocolate into the top of the double-boiler or a heatproof bowl and set over the simmering water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely smooth and no wafer pieces remain. Remove the bowl with the chocolate from heat and stir in the ground cardamom.

For the most control during the dipping process, grasp the strawberry by the stem or toothpick, as close to the leaves as possible, and dip it into the chocolate, swirling the it around the bowl to completely coat it in chocolate. Lift the strawberry out and twist it to allow excess chocolate to drip off.  Place the dipped strawberry on the parchment paper and slightly pulling the strawberry back by the stem or toothpick, creating a flat base of chocolate under the strawberry.

Sprinkle the strawberry with some of the chopped cardamom and rose petals.  Repeat until all remaining strawberries have been dipped and coated.

Place the cookie sheet with the strawberries in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets – approximately 1-2 hours.  Once set, transfer the strawberries to a serving dish and garnish with any remaining pistachios and rose petals and serve. 

Note:  While the strawberries can be made up to a day in advance, it is recommended that be prepared the day they will be served and brought back to room before serving.