In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, mix 1/4 cup sugar and the gelatin. Stir in 1/3 cup cold water; let stand until gelatin is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir over medium-high heat until gelatin and sugar are dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in milk and almond extract. Pour into 9-inch square baking dish or pan. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours; cover if storing longer (see notes).
With a vegetable peeler, pare six thin 4- by 1/2-inch strips of peel from orange. Ream juice from orange and reserve. With the flat bottom of a glass, crush cardamom pods; remove and discard hulls. Place orange peel strips, black cardamom seeds, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan. With a wooden spoon, crush peel and seeds with sugar. Add 4 cups water; stir over high heat until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Let cool, then add reserved orange juice; cover and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours. Pour through a fine strainer set over a large bowl.
Cut almond gelatin into 3/4-inch squares; also run knife around pan sides. With a wide spatula, carefully lift out cubes and add to orange-cardamom syrup. Add raspberries and mandarin oranges with their syrup; gently mix to distribute fruit evenly. Serve or cover and chill until ready to serve (see notes). Ladle into small bowls or glasses.
The March 2004 issue of Sunset had an article on Asian small plates, of which this was one. I've gone back to that issue so many times the pages are tattered. If you're looking for the other recipes (since myrecipes doesn't link them), they are:
Hot Sichuan-Style Green Beans;
Thai-Style Cabbage Slaw;
Sesame Noodle Salad;
Hoisin Pork with Hot Mustard;
Sweet-Hot Coconut Shrimp;
Mandarin-Berry Almond Floats;
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