Thursday, December 16, 2010
While preparing for Thanksgiving I went to a grocery store near my home that I’d never visited. It’s called Golden Farms and it’s in Glendale which has a huge Armenian population (the third largest community in the world outside of Armenia). Golden Farms caters directly to this group, which makes up more than 25% of the population of the area. They have all sorts of fun things that I enjoy like dried fruits, nuts, interesting produce, fruit preserves and of course candy.
The candy that caught my eye, that I couldn’t wait until my next visit to purchase, was this Fard Cardamom Sugar Plum. I’ve already tried Fard’s Persian Nougat, which I liked quite a bit, so I felt confident about the brand even though the packaging is pretty plain. Fard’s website also calls this candy Abnabat and it comes in Lemon and Ginger varieties as well.
The ingredients are simple: sugar, citric acid and cardamom. Most hard candies also use corn syrup, which is pure glucose while sugar is sucrose. Pure sucrose candies tend to be sweeter, as glucose does not have the same mouth feel or sweetness level as sucrose.
The pieces are beautiful. They’re obviously hand formed, just scored and broken into little domed nuggets. They look like amber with little seeds trapped inside.
After opening the package, I was certain I made the right choice to buy it - it smells just like cardamom pods freshly crushed in a mortal and pestle. I’m a huge fan of cardamom and loved seeing the little seeds in the candy, I put it in a lot of things like chocolate pudding, bread pudding, jam and plain rice. It’s especially good for candy and I’ve always wanted a candy that was just cardamom flavored.
The pieces fit in the mouth well, though the irregular edges were tempting to nibble on to take off the sharpness. The dissolve is smooth and slow with a pleasant pure sugar flavor that’s just lightly toasted, kind of like Barley Sugar. There were no voids, just dense sugar and the seeds. The cardamom flavor is loud and impressive - it’s a nice mix of earthy root notes, eucalyptus and pine resin. The intensity of the flavor varied, depending on how much cardamom was in an actual piece. A few had no seeds, though still plenty of flavor. Others were just chocked full. I’m a cruncher, so candies that had a lot were a little harder for me to eat, because I wanted some cardamom and didn’t mind eating a few seeds. The seeds have a much stronger flavor and can be a little bit slippery. With pieces with a lot of seeds I usually ended up fishing the seeds out of my mouth as the candy dissolved.
The candy is refreshing and is probably great with tea or after a meal. I tended to eat it as a treat while working or just watching TV. This is something that I will probably buy again, especially if I’m going to be traveling and I imagine it will be great for my tummy on boats (cardamom is related to ginger). It’s a little rustic and of course not individually wrapped, so not appropriate for all situations.
It’s marked Kosher (Pareve) so it may also qualify as vegan, but email the company to be sure.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I visited a Middle-Eastern market in Orange County called Jordan Market. They had a great selection of hard to find Persian and Middle Eastern confections. They had several brands & styles of Halvah, Turkish Delight and, as the title of this review shows, Persian Nougat.
Anyone who’s been reading along on Candy Blog knows I’m a pushover for nougat. I’ve had Persian nougat before (I get it in little individually wrapped pieces at Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream in Hollywood), but I was attracted to this large box both by the price and the statement on the box: All Natural Persian Nougat - Packed in Flour in the Traditional Way.
I’m accustomed to Turkish Delight being packed in corn starch so figured this would be a similar powdery experience.
Persian nougat it different from French, Italian & Spanish nougat in that they don’t use honey in it. Instead the primary flavor is rosewater (sometimes orange blossom).
The box was shrink wrapped to keep it fresh. Inside the waxed paper sheets fold back to reveal what at first looks like a box of loose flour. A little shake of the box and the lumps of nougat are revealed.
This is the messy part thought. I took out a couple of “cakes” of the stuff and dusted them off with the brush I use to clean my shooting table. Underneath the plain cake flour are little white irregular pieces that look like raw biscuits. They’re about 2 1/2 inches around and lumpy. They smell rather like flour.
The nougat is pretty firm so biting into them is a little bit tough. (Though they are easily cut into bite size pieces with a sharp knife.)
Once I broke through the powdery outsides, it was easy to get a sense of the personality of the traditional Persian nougat.
It’s liberally dotted with green pistachios and has a smooth chew with a strong rosewater flavor. I happen to like rosewater and of course pistachios have a grassy & floral note to them as well. (I think this nougat also comes in an almond variety.) It’s flowery without being too soapy for me, but Robin from next door did think it was a little too much like grandma’s purse. Amy-Who-Spits-Things-Out came by for seconds today though.
Each piece is a large portion, there are 12 in the box which means that they’re each about 1.33 ounces each. Quite satisfying.
I think next time I’ll go for the individually wrapped pieces because my only real issue with them is the horrible mess ... which probably keeps me from eating the whole box.
Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.