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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

Pear and Cardamom Crisp

Pear and Cardamom Crisp with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

Have you ever tasted an ingredient that made your taste buds fall instantly in love? Cardamom is my instant love ingredient and it couldn’t pair more beautifully than in this Pear and Cardamom Crisp. 

I know, I often associate emotions with ingredients.  It can’t be helped.  So I will regale you with yet another tale of my childhood. (can you see me smiling?)

It started when I was little and I could smell Grandpa’s coffee brewing in the wee hours of the morning.  Grandpa got up before the sun and always spent a quiet hour sipping his coffee while deep in thought and ponder. I’d sneak out of the guest room and walk down the long hall that led to the kitchen and where I would be greeted with a toothy grandpa grin.  He’d ask me if I’d like to join him for a cup of joe, that it would make me tough and grow up faster.  Then he’d laugh and smile again.  He was a crusty old soul but a sweet pile of marshmallows with his grandchildren.

Scent, taste, touch and often sight, all play a large roll in how we perceive food and if it feels worthy of our taste buds.  This Pear and Cardamom Crisp meet all those requirements and can be visually enticing. Which is perfect when you’re serving this for a dinner party.

The soft, silky texture of baked pear and the floral citrus scent of cardamom makes this Pear and Cardamom Crisp perfect for any occasion.

  I thought I’d dress it up even more and top it with a Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.  Because who doesn’t love whipped cream?


Pear and Cardamom Crisp ready to given as edible gifts

 I do love a large baking dish of fruit crisp, often making gift size dishes to give to friends and neighbors.  For a festive celebration or dinner party, this Pear and Cardamom Crisp is gorgeous in individual ramekins and then topped with edible flowers or even a few lavender buds or sprinkle of vanilla sugar.

Although it’s a simple preparation, this is a beautiful and delightful dessert.  Sweet, yet fragrantly spiced – and it would work well for a brunch or a holiday dessert.  Sometimes I make a large baking dish of Pear and Cardamom Crisp on the weekend and then my family nibbles on it throughout the week.  Occasionally having a scoop for breakfast ( I see the fork marks in the pan but no one admits to it) and always a little dish at night after dinner. A special seasonal treat that always makes my family smile (and apparently sneaky).

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Pear and Cardamom Crisp

Serving Size: 6-8

Pear and Cardamom Crisp

If you love cardamom this just might be your new favorite spring dessert. Simple to prepare and a delight to the senses. Sweet and fragrant and a perfect way to end a spring meal. It can be prepared in an 8x8 or 9x11 pan or individual ramekins.


  • 3 – 3 ½ lbs ripe pears, cored and sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing the baking dish/dishes
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400F
  • Grease one 8” or 9” baking dish with butter or 6 – 8 oven safe ramekins. If using ramekins or small oven proof dishes, place them on a baking sheet.
  • Mix together the 3 tablespoons sugar with 1 teaspoon cardamom. Toss the cardamom sugar with the sliced pears. Place the sliced pears in the baking dish or divide among ramekins.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the rolled oats, flour, dark brown sugar and pinch of salt. Then mix in the butter. I like to mix this with my hands to make a well infused buttery crumble. You should end up with pea sized crumbles.
  • Spread the crumble mixture over the pears. Place the baking dish or baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pears are bubbly on the sides and crisp topping is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and let them rest while you make the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.
  • In a kitchen aid mixer or with a hand held mixer, whisk together the whipping cream, vanilla bean seeds and powdered sugar until thick and fluffy.
  • Once the crisp has cooled slightly, serve the crisp with the Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.
  • Notes

    I originally created this recipe for the lovely folks over at Home By Design Magazine.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a miracle!  I have now posted two sweets in one week.  Thought I’d never see the day this would happen but I couldn’t help myself.

    My sister, Kristin from Little Lace Box,  mentioned it’s National Donut day and I should post a donut recipe.  That’s code for “Hey, I need a donut recipe to make for my family this weekend.”  🙂 I love requests!

    I’m more of a savory foods kind of gal but there are moments when a donut sounds like a lovely indulgence. However, truth be told, I’m terribly picky about my donuts.  You could say I’m a bit of a donut snob.  I like a real, honest to goodness quality ingredient donut.  The kind that my sweet neighbor used to make in her little country kitchen.

    Cardamom Coconut Flour with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    Aunt Nancy, as we so lovingly called her, made the best donuts I’ve ever eaten.  She made cake donuts and yeast donuts, putting loads of love into every donut that came out of her oven or her big cast iron pot of sizzling oil.

    Then she would slather them in icing or powdered sugar, set them on her kitchen table and serve them with glasses of fresh whole milk.  Such a delicious memory!

    Today, when I do indulge in a donut it’s usually from Top Pot Donuts in Seattle or VooDoo Donuts in Portland.  Alas, I’m nowhere near either of those locations this week, so I made my own donuts.  These are what I call “Bennett friendly” donuts.  With all the food allergies in this house I had to come up with something everyone can enjoy.

    Coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs and few other ingredients makes for a delicious donut that has the texture of a cake donut.  I know, I know, this is not a traditional donut like Aunt Nancy used to make.  But these are delicious and if you are craving a sweet indulgence, this will definitely keep your swimsuit eating plan in check, as well as avoid those nagging food allergies.

    I top my donuts with a rich vanilla icing drizzle and sprinkles or white chocolate chips.  The fragrant cardamom shines through but doesn’t over power; and the vanilla icing brings all the flavors and textures together for one lovely, enticing sweet.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Makes 6 large donuts or 9 mini donuts


    ½ cup coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour)

    1/3 cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar

    ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    ¾ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

    Pinch of salt

    2 eggs, preferably room temperature

    3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

    ½ cup warm water

    Donut pans (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond)

    Vanilla Icing

    1 cup powdered sugar

    1 -2 tablespoons milk

    1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and pinch of salt.

    In an electric mixer, mix together the 2 eggs, oil and warm water.

    Once the wet mixture is nicely blended slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth but firm batter.  If will feel almost like a dough.

    Spray the donut pans with olive oil or coconut spray and then fill them evenly.

    Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

    Let them cool a bit and then turn them onto a cooling rack.  When the donuts are cool you can frost or drizzle the icing onto the donuts and decorate with pretty sprinkles or mini white chocolate chips.

    This batter also makes excellent muffins or mini muffins!

    Recipe adapted from

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Cardamom Hot Chocolate

    Cardamom Hot Chocolate

    Cardamom Hot Chocolate

    There is a darling little coffee shop on San Juan Island, in the little town of Friday Harbor.  The name of this darling little coffee shop escapes me, but you’ll know it by the cardamom hot chocolate that is served.  Among other lovely little sips and nibbles, it’s the cardamom hot chocolate that always draws me in.  Sweet, fragrant and rich in flavor, I savor every sip.

    This time of year it’s a special treat when I can take a moment to indulge in a warm cup of this rich and creamy hot chocolate.  I live too far away to pop into that coffee shop on a whim, so preparing it at home is the next best thing.

    I’ve experimented with a few methods of preparation but for the best tasting cardamom hot chocolate, purchasing fresh cardamom pods is key.  I can usually find them in bulk at my natural market.  They should hold for about six months and when you’re not using the pods for hot chocolate, they are excellent toasted and crushed for sauces, soupscurries and desserts.

    In honor of this wonderful time of year, I raise my hot chocolate mug to you!  Here’s to a most delicious and happy Christmas.

    I wish you all loads of love, true joy and heartfelt happiness,


    Cardamom Hot Chocolate


    1 serving of your favorite sipping chocolate. I adore Theo brand sipping chocolate.  I’ve also used Trader Joe’s sipping chocolate.

    6-8 ounces whole milk

    2 crushed cardamom pods. I crush the pods with a mortar and pestle or with the back of a large spoon.

    Whipped Cream (optional)

    Chocolate shavings (optional)


    In a small sauce pan heat the milk, sipping chocolate and cardamom pods over medium low heat.  Whisk lightly until the milk is hot but not boiling, and the chocolate has melted and blended into the milk.

    Strain the Hot Chocolate into your favorite mug or teacup and top with fresh whipped cream and shaved chocolate if desired.  Find a quiet spot by the fireplace and enjoy.



    Chicken Grilling Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More vegetarian

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce over Roasted Eggplant

    I’ve been a member of several book clubs over the years.  Each time, I joined with the exuberance of a puppy playing with a new bone.  Excited about all the new books I’d be discovering and reading, all the new friendships to be made and girlfriend time to be savored.

    Unfortunately each time, my enthusiastic participation ended much too soon.  Either work or other commitments inhibited my attendance and sometimes my busy schedule caused my eyes to close 15 minutes into opening my book.

    Yep, book clubs have come and gone and with them my humiliation of not being able to meet my reading or attendance commitment.  My head bows in shame and disappointment.

    So when I was asked to join this “new” kind of book club, I was a little hesitant.  Until I realized it was right up my alley, Cook this Book.  I have no problem staying awake reading cookbooks.  Browsing the beautiful pages of deliciousness that sometimes inspires new culinary creations or simply reminds me of one I haven’t prepared in years.  A discovery of new types of cuisine and how it relates to the culture it originates.  Exciting!

    Even more exciting, the dynamic and brilliant women that are part of this book club.  Writers, chef’s, professors, food bloggers, professionals and of course fellow lovers of all things foodie, lovely, gracious women from all walks of life.

    Roasted chicken with cardamom and ginger spiced yogurt sauce

    Cardamom and Ginger Yogurt Sauce with Roasted Chicken

    The event has come and gone and my taste buds have never sampled such a mingling of beautiful and fragrant flavors.  Our book for the month was Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.  Middle Eastern cuisine encompasses a variety of styles and flavors that creates a plethora of dinner options.

    One particular dish from this book is now one of my family’s favorites.  A spiced yogurt sauce that is laced with cardamom and ginger and so beautifully compliments poultry, lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.

    Honestly, I kept sticking my spoon in the sauce bowl, swiping mouthfuls of the sauce when no one was looking.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Cardamom and Ginger Spiced Yogurt Sauce for Roasted Chicken or Vegetables

    Serves 4-6


    2 cups plain whole milk yogurt

    1 teaspoon ground cardamom, or the seeds toasted and crushed

    1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, grated

    1 small onion, finely diced

    Serve with roasted or grilled chicken pieces, pan seared chicken cutlets or roasted eggplant, winter squash and zucchini.


    In a bowl, mix the yogurt with the cardamom and ginger.  Set aside while you saute the onions.  Heat a skillet and a tablespoon or two of oil over medium heat and saute the onions until golden.  Remove the onions from the heat and stir in the spiced yogurt.  Do not put your skillet over the heat or your yogurt will separate.  The warmth of the skillet and onions will warm the yogurt nicely.

    Serve the spiced sauce with grilled or roasted chicken pieces, pan seared chicken breast cutlets or roasted eggplant, zucchini or winter squash.  I love a dollop of this yogurt sauce over a roasted butternut squash. 🙂

    Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Claudia Roden’s New Book of Middle Eastern Food

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Spiced Banana Bread

    Moist banana bread recipe with fresh ground spices and buttermilk

    Spiced Banana Bread

    A really good banana bread is like a dear friend.  A friend that has been with you through thick and thin, and all of the in between.  A constant in one’s life with fortitude that transcends the test of time.

    Banana bread is enticing to the palate, earthy in color and fragrant in aroma.  It never deviates.  One can always count on consistent flavor.  That is of course if one follows the recipe.

    I would not be that one.

    Banana Bread recipe with fresh ground spices and buttermilk

    Fragrant and Enticing Spiced Banana Bread

    I had to do it.  I had to deviate.  I ended up deviating several times and thankfully ended up with this lovely little version of my most favorite banana bread.

    Only spicier.  😉

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Spiced Banana Bread


    ¾ cup dark brown sugar or coconut palm sugar

    ¼ cup olive oil

    1 large egg

    1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (2-3 large bananas)

    ¾ cup buttermilk

    2 cups flour (1 ½ cups all-purpose + ½ cup cake flour)

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    ½ teaspoon baking powder

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon spice blend (if you don’t like coriander, omit; or sub with 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)

    1 teaspoon coriander seeds

    3 cardamom pods

    1 clove

         Heat a small pan over high heat and toast the spices. Once toasted let them cool for a few minutes and then grind in a spice grinder.  This should give you about 1 rounded teaspoon of spices.

    Diagonally sliced bananas for garnish.


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Grease a medium size loaf pan 9×5.

    Mix together the sugar, olive oil and egg until smooth and blended.  Add the mashed banana and buttermilk and blend until incorporated.

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice blend.  Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until nicely incorporated.

    Pour into the baking pan and lay sliced bananas diagonally onto the top of the batter.  Sprinkle with brown sugar or coconut sugar.

    Bake at 400F for about 15 minutes.  Then turn the heat down to 350F and bake for another 30 minutes or until the bread is done.

    Cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.

    Check out these delicious Banana posts!

    Kid Friendly Sweets

    Wild Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

    Wild Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

    It’s blackberry picking season!  For about six weeks each year, I tote my bucket all over our mountain looking for those beautiful berries.  The sun warmed berries are sugary sweet this time of year and it feels a little like food heaven.

    Wild Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

    Blackberry pancakes, blackberry muffins, savory blackberry sauce paired with grilled pork chops, and of course the Bennett Crew’s favorite blackberry dish… Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler.

    Wild Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

    Every year I tell my Bennett Crew I’m saving some blackberries for making jam.  But that never seems to happen.

    I believe we love those berries too much to wait for jam. 🙁    I really will make that jam next year.

    Blackberry recipes abound this time of year.  Here are few of my favorites!

    Blackberry Lemon Drops from Talk of Tomatoes

    Blackberry Plum Cardamom Jam from Talk of Tomatoes

    Go Big” Back to School Blueberry (or Blackberry) Coffee Cake from Pink Patiserrie

    Apple Blackberry Pie from Eat the Love

    Blackberry Oatmeal Cake from The Bite House

    Wild Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

    Serves 8-10

    Adapted from multiple sources… but mostly from my Mom.  Mom was the Queen of cobblers when I was a kid.  All sorts of cobblers showed up weekly, sitting on our kitchen table.  Blackberry was my favorite. 🙂

    Pre-heat the oven to 375F.



    6 cups blackberries, blueberries or mixed berries

    ¾ cup organic granulated sugar

    Zest of one lemon and 2 teaspoons lemon juice

    2 tablespoons cornstarch

    2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced


    Gently toss the berries with the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch and butter and set aside.

    Cobbler Crust

    1 stick of unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)

    1 cup Coconut sugar (or ¾ cup brown sugar) I use Wholesome Sweeteners Coconut Palm Sugar. This sugar creates a caramel colored cobbler crust with just a hint of toasty caramel flavor.

    3 egg yolks

    ½ cup sour cream

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (I used ½ cup cake flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour)

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    1 ½ teaspoon ground cardamom


    Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cardamom.  Set aside.

    In a kitchen aid mixer or mixing bowl, mix together the soft butter with the coconut or brown sugar until nicely incorporated.  The sugar butter mixture will be a little lumpy looking due to the coconut sugar.  This is normal.

    Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla extract and then the sour cream.  Then slowly mix in the flour mixture until the batter is smooth.

    Putting the Cobbler Together:

    Butter a 9×13 baking dish and then pour the filling into the baking dish.

    Take a muffin, cupcake or ice cream scoop and scoop the cobbler crust batter onto the filling, leaving a few holes to allow the blackberry filling to bubble through.  You don’t have to do this but I think it makes the cobbler look pretty.

    Place the cobbler in the oven and bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the cobbler crust is done and golden brown on top and the filling is hot and bubbly.

    Let the cobbler cool for at least 10-15 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla bean or blueberry cheesecake ice cream.  Yum!


    Fresh Pear and Cardamom Muffins

    Fresh Pear and Cardamom Muffins

    These are my favorite muffins.  Mostly because I’m in love with cardamom.

    I wish my house smelled like cardamom.  And I wouldn’t mind a perfume smelling of cardamom.  I’d probably bathe in this lovely spice if I could.

    Ground and Whole Cardamom

    Sometimes I open my cardamom spice jar just to stick my nose in and inhale the blissful fragrance.

    I love it in apple pie, peach crisp, banana bread, curried chicken, soups, stews, and in mashed sweet potatoes prepared with coconut milk.  I’ve even sipped hot chocolate with a hint of cardamom.  Wow, talk about an explosion of flavors!

    If the flavor isn’t enough, cardamom also has health benefits.  A relative of ginger, cardamom is also used to promote healthy digestion and is known to aid in lowering blood pressure.

    Truly, I could write another 500 words about cardamom and the benefits of incorporating this lovely scented spice into our diets.  So I’ve listed a few excellent websites for additional information.  You know, just for a bit of light reading.

    But for now, I’m enjoying the fragrant flavors of cardamom with seasonal pears… all deliciously blended into my most favorite muffins.

    Fresh Pear and Cardamom Muffins

    Makes 10-12 muffins


    2 cups organic all purpose flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1 rounded teaspoon ground cardamom

    1/3 cup grapeseed oil (substitute with 1/3 cup coconut oil or unsalted butter)

    1/2 cup dark brown sugar

    1 large egg

    1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, combine just a tad less than one cup milk with one tablespoon white vinegar. Let it sit for about five minutes)

    2-3 pears peeled and small diced


    Pre-heat the oven to 400F.  Line the muffin tin.

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom.  Set aside.

    In another bowl, or kitchen aid mixer, beat together the oil and sugar.  Once combined add the egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

    Gently mix in the buttermilk.

    Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the diced pears.

    Ladle into muffin cups.  Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes or until done.  The muffins will be nicely golden brown on top.

    Let the muffins sit for 5-10 minutes to cool.  Enjoy!

    Kid Friendly Sweets

    Peach, Cardamom and Cinnamon Crisp

    As spring ends and summer begins I start craving our beloved Northwest stone fruit.  Unfortunately, the delicious, ripe and juicy fruit won’t arrive for another month or two, depending on the weather.  So what’s a girl to do when she’s in need of a yummy peach crisp?  Buy frozen peaches!

    For desserts, I often opt for frozen fruit, especially if using peaches.  Most frozen fruits are packaged at the peak of ripeness and  make a good substitute for fresh, especially when you’re craving a yummy peach crisp.

    In addition to a passion for fresh stone fruit I adore the aromatic spice cardamom.  I typically use cardamom in my apple pies, however, I was thinking I’d be a little daring and try a smidge of cardamom in a peach crisp.  Cardamom is a unique tasting spice used in many savory Indian dishes and is one of the spices included in the lovely spice mixture garam masala. 

    I purchase whole cardamom pods, crack them open and then toast them before grinding in a coffee or spice mill.  However, if you want to skip those steps, feel free to purchase ground cardamom in the jar, or in the bulk spice section of your market.  I’ve given instructions for using either whole pods or ground cardamom. 

    These tantalizing spices beautifully compliment the peaches and makes a delicious and mouth-watering dessert.  Serve with fresh whipped cream or a vanilla bean ice cream.  Or, if it’s hot outside and you like preparing homemade ice cream, try this dessert with a homemade peach ice cream.  Yum! 

    Serves 8


    For the peaches

    4 cups sliced frozen peaches, thawed (or fresh peaches when in season)

    ½ cup sugar

    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or tapioca starch

    1 teaspoon ground cardamom*

    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    For the Crisp

    1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix

    1 cup quick cook oats

    ½ cup brown sugar

    Pinch of Kosher salt

    12 tablespoons chilled butter, diced into small pieces


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, toss together the sugar, flour, cardamom and cinnamon.  Add the peaches and vanilla extract and coat well with the sugar mixture.

    In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together on low the flour, oats, brown sugar and pinch of salt.  Add the chilled butter and let the mixture continue to mix together until it begins to look like small pieces of dough.  Don’t allow the mixture to mix too long as you’ll end up with one big piece of dough and this will not crisp. 

    Pour the peaches into a 9×13 baking dish and top with the crisp mixture.  Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top of the crisp is golden brown and the peach mixture is heated through and bubbly. 

    Let the crisp cool slightly and then serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. 

    *For whole Cardamom pods:  6 pods should give ½ teaspoon of seeds.  Remove the seeds and toast them.  Put them in a coffee mill with about ¼ cup sugar and grind.