I have a confession: when I bought an ice cream machine last summer it was for the sole purpose of making this ice cream – baklava ice cream. Inspiration comes from many: I first saw this concept at Jenn The Leftover Queen’s. There’s George Calombaris’ take on it and then there’s my friend David Tsirekas’ version from Perama. My friend Peter at Souvlaki for the Soul shared his ice cream sandwich and my other friend Georgia Gerardis wows diners at her restaurant Ammoyiali in Rhodes.
All the people above offered inspiration for my own take on Baklava ice cream, THANK YOU! To make baklava ice cream is to understand what baklava is: layers of phyllo sandwiched with a nut and spice mixture and then soaked in a syrup. Simple. The dessert can take on many forms like squares, diamond shapes, cigars or pinwheels. The filling may contain fruit, an array of nuts and the spices used could be cinnamon, cloves, cardamom or any other spice used with sweets. The syrup is based on sugar and water, more cinnamon and/or spice is spiked, lemon or orange peel and good honey helps round-out the best of syrups. Some baklavas are on the drier side and others are laden in syrup. My preference is for something in between.
When making Baklava Ice Cream there’s also lots of artistic license allowed. I approached this recipe with the goal of incorporating nuts, phyllo, syrup and of course the ice cream. I could have taken my take(s) on baklava ice cream in many directions but I stuck to two: my favourite and more difficult is actually layering ice cream between sheets of phyllo: I baked-off multiple layers of phyllo in the oven then poured syrup over them. Once they cooled I simply placed one layer of phyllo on the bottom of a terrine/loaf-type pan followed by ice cream, another layer of phyllo then more ice cream and finally a third layer of phyllo. In the freezer it went overnight. The next day, cut a slice of Baklava ice cream and serve on a plate with some drizzled Greek honey and reserved Baklava filling.
If the photos in this post haven’t sold you yet then I will confirm that this just tasted divine. If this isn’t enough for you then you’ll be drawn in when I plate this dessert with Poached figs in Mavrodapne wine (a Greek fortified) wine. Now we’re talking sublime! This recipe will leave you with some leftover phyllo but I have a solution for that too! I made some baklava ice cream served inside some phyllo cups. I simply cut some pieces of phyllo that I placed in muffin tins and baked them off until golden. Once again, syrup was poured over the phyllo and then allowed to cool. Soon after, a scoop of ice cream gets placed in the phyllo nest, a drizzle of Greek honey and sprinkle of baklava filling and once again…some of that poached figs & Mavrodaphne sauce.
The second approach is obviously the easier of the two and they both offer WOW-factor when served: A) present the terrine-style baklava ice cream at the dinner table and serve up slices and drizzle honey and garnish with the poached figs or B) serve the baklava ice cream in the phyllo nests. Both taste fantastic, you get the flavours of Baklava and you’re going to serve a memorable dessert.
Baklava Phyllo Layers
1 pkge. of phyllo (thaw in the fridge overnight)
1 cup melted clarified butter
2 cups walnuts
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 cups of water
1 cup sugar
2-3 strips of lemon or orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
1/2 cup honey
- When pouring syrup over phyllo, one component has to be hot and the other has to be cool. So, choose either hot syrup & cold phyllo or hot phyllo and cooled syrup…either method works. Today, we’re going to make the syrup first. Add the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and lemon peel in to a small pot and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer and boil for another 6 minutes. Take off the heat and add the honey and allow to cool. Remove rind, cinnamon and cloves.
- To make the Baklava ice cream in the loaf format, you will need a terrine-type mold. Take your phyllo out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (15 minutes). Measure the dimensions of your terrine pan and cut 15 sheets of phyllo so that they fill fit in the mold. Brush the top of sheet with melted butter and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle some of the nut mixture with your fingers then top with another layer of phyllo. Repeat until you’ve layred 5 phyllo sheets. Now form two more stacks of phyllo and nuts so that you have a total of three stacks that will help to form your loaf-style Baklava ice cream. Pre-heat your oven to 325F (middle rack) and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until just golden. Remove from the oven and pour 1/2 ladle of syrup over each stack of phyllo and allow to cool.
- To assemble the Baklava Ice Cream in the loaf style, you should have your phyllo layers ready before your ice cream is churned. Below is the recipe to for making the cream.
Baklava Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
4-5 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. of walnut liqueur (almond liqueur is fine)
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/4 cup honey
- Add the milk, cream, cinnamon stick, cloves and seeds scraped from a vanilla pod into a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as it comes to a boil, take off the heat, cover and allow for the spices and vanilla to steep for an hour. Strain and discard cinnamon stick and cloves.
- Add your egg yolks and sugar into a bowl and whisk until creamed. Now slowly pour your still warm milk/cream into the egg/sugar mixture then pour back into the pot. Place the pot back on your stove-top over medium heat and continuously stir until the base is as thick as cream. Take off the heat and allow to cool in an ice bath or just cool naturally.
- Place the ice cream base in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours to chill completely. As soon as your ice cream base is chilled sufficiently, pour into your ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes. In the meantime, chop the walnuts and mix in a bowl with the liqueur and honey and at the 25 minute mark of churning, add them into your ice cream.
- As soon as walnuts are mixed into the ice cream, turn off the ice cream maker and it’s time to assemble the terrine-style Baklava. Lay your first layer of baklava in the terrine then spread a good layer of ice cream then another phyllo layer, another ice cream layer and finish with the last layer of phyllo. Sprinkle some of the leftover nut mixture, cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight. You should have some extra ice cream – store in a container and freeze overnight.*
- To serve run your knife around the perimeter of the terrine to loosen the ice cream.Cut a slice and carefully lift out with a spatula. Place flat on a plate, drizzle with good honey and sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Go the extra mile and serve with a Poached Mavrodaphne fig and some sauce.
*Alternate presentation: Cut strips of phyllo, brush with melted butter and place four of them overlapping to fill muffin cup, forming phyllo nests. Bake the phyllo nests in your pre-heated 325F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden. Take out of the oven and pour 3-4 Tbsp. of syrup over each phyllo nest and allow to cool. For this presentation, the above ice cream recipe goes all in tub (no terrine, no phyllo layers) and frozen overnight.
Sprinkle some reserved walnut mix in each phyllo nest then drop a scoop of the baklava ice cream. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with more nut mix and…serve with a poached fix and some sauce.
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