A group of coworkers put on an "Iron Chef" competition between two teams of cooks. The rules did not allow us to bring recipes along but allowed us to bring key favorite ingredients; among other things, I brought along my maple syrup and cardamom. The secret ingredient was squash. I improvised this sauce loosely based on one my mother makes, and served it drizzled over roasted acorn squash topped with slivers of manchego and granny smith apple.
The contest was tied after the appetizer and entree courses, and this dessert won the day for my team! And has been eliciting plenty of oohs and ahhs ever since.
I should note that I have since more often served it with poundcake or fruits than acorn squash. It's particularly tasty drizzled over bananas and peaches and sprinkled with toasted nuts. Shown here with roasted apples (lemon juice and cardamom seeds, if you want to try), whipped cream, and pistachios. —chambersalyn
approx 2 cups
heavy whipping cream
green cardamom pods, 2 crushed (save seeds and pod)
black cardamom pod, smashed (optional)
salted butter (1 stick)
packed brown sugar
maple syrup (can substitute Lyle's golden cane syrup (better) or corn syrup (if you must), but maple is much tastier)
Bring the cream, cardamom pods, and cinnamon to a boil on medium heat.
Remove from heat and set aside. Allow cream to steep with the spices while you prepare the sugar syrup, at least 15 minutes total.
Melt butter in a saucepan with the sugar and syrup. Choose a pan that has about twice the volume of these ingredients. Stirring, bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the mixture thickens a bit, usually 2-3 minutes.
Using a strainer to catch the spices and pods, pour 1/2 cup of the steeped cream into the butter and sugar mixture. Be careful to stir quickly, as the cream will cause the mixture to bubble up quickly. Stir in and continue to heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Add more cream if you like a thinner sauce.
Stir in a dash of salt to taste. Serve warm or room temperature, over fruit, cake, or even acorn squash! Sauce will thicken as it cools.