Lightly sweet and infused with floral, aromatic spices, Warm Milk with Cardamom and Honey is a wonderful way to unwind at the end of a long day.
I have been on such a cardamom kick the past few months. I just love the sweet, floral, lightly citrusy flavors contained in those tiny green pods. It’s such a beautifully complex and aromatic spice. I’ve been having fun using it to infuse a new layer of flavor into old favorites (read: I’ve been putting it in everything.). Over the summer, I added it to my Blueberry Crumb Bars, to rave reviews. It’s also great in Brown Sugar Rice Pudding, Snickerdoodles (downright addictive and coming to the blog this Holiday season), and even paired with chicken (a’la Ottolenghi). By far, one of my favorite uses has been Milk with Cardamom and Honey. Simply divine.
I’m lucky to live close to a wonderful spice shop. It’s become one of my favorite places to browse (and lose total track of time!) in my local downtown area. I can never just buzz in and out for one item. Once I open the door and am greeted by that beautiful mélange of aromas, I always kick into “explorer mode” and end up leaving with a bag of goodies. Not that I’m complaining. I’ve discovered spices that I didn’t even know existed, and the shop has been a real inspiration to my cooking. Not to mention the quality difference in freshly-batched herbs and spices. Talk about an elevation of flavor! If you have a similar resource near you, I highly recommend spending an afternoon exploring. It really is fun.
Back to the Cardamom Milk. After one of my trips to the spice shop, I wandered around the corner to the coffee house, where I ordered my favorite comfort beverage: Steamed Milk and Honey. (It’s so good that after having discovered it on their menu, I rarely find myself ordering a latte anymore when I need to warm up.) As I sat and rifled through my spice purchases, I saw the bag of ground cardamom and decided to sprinkle a little into my milk. The flavor was amazing. As someone who regularly makes Chai tea at home, I figured why not leave out the tea and just infuse whole spices directly into the milk? So, I did, adding a cinnamon stick (because I love the combination of cardamom and cinnamon). The results were delicious.
What’s great about this milk is that it’s completely customizable. If you don’t like cardamom, any whole spice of your choosing can be substituted (including your favorite Chai spice blend). Have fun and experiment! I love to pour Milk with Cardamom and Honey over hot breakfast cereals (oatmeal, cream of wheat/rice) for a flavor that’s a little different from the expected. On its own, warm spiced milk is a wonderful way to unwind at the end of a long day. On cold winter nights, you’ll often find me relaxing in front of the fireplace with a cup of this, a book, and my most favorite pair of fuzzy socks. If that isn’t the definition of comfort, I don’t know what is!
Warm Milk with Cardamom and Honey
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 - 8 green cardamom pods*, to taste
- 2 - 3 tablespoons honey, to taste
Gently crush cardamom pods to expose seeds (a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin both work well). In a small saucepan, combine milk, cinnamon stick, cardamom, and honey (to taste). Gently warm over medium heat, just until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.** Remove from heat and let steep 10-30 minutes, depending on how strongly-flavored you like your milk.
Strain milk through a fine-mesh sieve and discard cardamom pods. Return to saucepan and gently rewarm, if desired. Serve with a cinnamon stick. Leftover milk can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly-covered container and rewarmed as needed.
Don't feel like using the stove? Fill a mug with milk, add about 1/2 tablespoon honey, and a small pinch each of ground cardamom and cinnamon (adjusting both sweetness and spices to taste). Microwave on high for about 45 seconds, stirring halfway through, until warmed. Strain and enjoy.
Strained, infused milk is also delicious prepared in a milk frother or French Press according to your manufacturer's directions.
*I've come to learn that not all cardamom is created equal, mostly attributed to varying degrees of freshness. Some are much more assertive than others. Cardamom can be a strong flavor in general and can easily overpower a dish if used with too heavy a hand. When using ground, I tend to think of it in terms of "pinches" rather than teaspoonfuls. It's better to be conservative and add additional to taste than to have to try to dull an overly-spiced recipe.
**It's important not to boil or overheat your milk, so it doesn't get an unappealing "cooked" taste.