We’re tackling a cult classic today: the Sweet Pretzel with Almonds from Kringla Bakeri og Cafe from the Norway Pavilion in Epcot.
The pretzel is the stuff of legends, and for good reason. A soft, perfectly sweetened pastry in the shape of a pretzel is topped with slivered almonds and a powdered sugar glaze. The dough itself is what sets this sweet pretzel apart. It’s not too sweet, and is filled with beautiful cardamom.
In case you haven’t tried the pretzel, cardamom is a spice used in sweet and savory dishes. It starts out soft and almost floral but finishes more spicy, like cinnamon with a touch of pepper. A lot of chai teas use cardamom as a main spice. So please don’t shy away from trying this ice cream because it may be based on a slightly unfamiliar flavor. Trust me – it works here.
This recipe starts with sweet, sugared almonds. These really couldn’t be easier, but be sure you start with natural, unsalted un-roasted almonds. You just cook together water, sugar, and almonds until the water is mostly evaporated. Then stir in a little vanilla and a good amount of salt, spread them out on a wax paper covered baking sheet and let them cool. The most difficult part (if your house is anything like mine), is making sure they aren’t all eaten before you need them for the ice cream. Head’s up: I already had to make a second batch just for snacking. I like to keep the almonds whole when I add them to the ice cream. The sugared coating forms little pockets of sweet syrupy goodness as it melds into the ice cream the longer it’s in the freezer, and the whole almonds are a great add-in to the ice cream; however, if you prefer, you can definitely roughly chop the almonds once they’re cool.
The ice cream base is a normal sweet cream base, but here is where the cardamom comes into play. My recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of cardamom, but this can be adjusted to taste. I personally love the flavor, so I added 1-1/2 teaspoons. If you’re unsure if you like it or haven’t tried it before, you may want to start with less (about 1/2 teaspoon). The flavor definitely builds as the cream base cools, so don’t add too much more if you taste it when it’s still warm.
This is another layered ice cream. You pour part of the base into your freezer container, then add a layer of almonds (as few or as many as you like, but I’d suggest you add a lot; they’re that good), and continue until you’re all out of the cardamom base. Top with another sprinkling of sugared almonds. I love the way this looks when it’s done, almost like gelato stands you see at the mall.
So what’s the result? The final flavor is sweet & salty from the almonds and cool and spicy from the cardamom base. For me, it was definitely a flavor that grew on me. Honestly, at first bite I wasn’t blown away with flavor. But by the third bite, I couldn’t understand why everyone isn’t making cardamom ice cream. And the sugared almonds top it off perfectly, just like the cardamom and almond sweet pretzel at Kringla Bakeri og Cafe.
Kringla Bakeri Og Cafe: Sugared Almond Cardamom Ice Cream
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar (plus up to an additional 1/4 cup if desired)
2 cups whole natural almonds
1 tsp. vanilla
Heat water and 1 c. sugar in saucepan and bring to a boil. Ad almonds. Cook, stirring often, until water is mostly evaporated (mine took about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat. Add vanilla and about three good pinches of salt. If desired, sprinkle with additional sugar (I did this for the first batch to create more texture on the outside of the almond). Line a baking sheet with wax paper and spread the almonds out to cool. When completely cooled, store in an air-tight container until ready to use.
Cardamom Sweet Cream Base:
2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. cardamom
Combine milk, cream, and sugar in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook for five minutes. In a separate bowl (I always use the measuring glass to save on dishes), beat together the egg yolks and salt. Remove cream from heat and slowly add about 1 cup of the hot mixture to the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Pour the tempered egg yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining sweet cream, return to heat, and cook on low until slightly thickened (5-7 minutes). Pour into a heat-proof container, stir in cardamom, and chill completely.
When cool, freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pour about 1/3 of sweet cream into a freezer safe container, top with sugared almonds, and continue to layer until you use all of the ice cream. Sprinkle a few additional almonds on top to look pretty. Place in the coldest part of your freezer for at least four hours, then allow to set at room temperature for about five minutes before serving.