Nothing up my sleeve

Pita Bread - Puffy

After awhile, when you cook long enough, you kind of get used to things just working the way you expect it to. Or you get used to recognizing possible pitfalls in the recipe as written and know how to work around it so that you get the results you want. Things hum along.

Sure, sometimes there are failures.

Like when I made banana bread a couple months back from the tried-and-true recipe I’ve made 25 times before with no trouble, and, who knows what happened, but the center never baked. Which I didn’t find out until it had cooled and I sliced into the middle of the bread and… ew… out spilled the unbaked batter.

Kitchen Pixies? Yeah, that’s who I’ll blame. The kitchen Pixies. (Which, by the way, would make a good band name.)

Anyway, mistakes and miscalculations happen, particularly when I’m rushing and haven’t read the recipe all the way through or when I forget a step, but, really, true surprises are rare.

Which is why, had you peeked in our kitchen window mid-day last Saturday, you would have seen me doing my Kitchen Pixie “Dance of Glee” when I saw magic happen in the oven.

Get a load of this: You make a dead-simple silky dough (you can do it in your mixer), let it ferment for a couple of hours (or up to a few days), cut it into pieces, shape it into balls, roll the balls flat, then bake the flat discs in a nice-and-hot oven for three minutes.

Pita Bread - Resting

Pita Bread - Rolled out

And then, all by themselves, they POOF! They know how to do this from some deep encoding in their little pita DNA. Or something. They just… puff up. You don’t flip them. You don’t touch them. They perform this little trick of magic on their own. And then? You get to eat them.

Who says there’s no such thing as magic?

Pita Bread - Magic

Pita Bread

p.s. If you need something to dip the pita in, try this hummus recipe, also from Smitten Kitchen. It’s the hummus recipe we’ve been hankering for for years. It really works.

Meeting darkness with sweetness

Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt

A few weeks ago, my friend Di invited me to join her annual, virtual holiday cookie exchange, and I enthusiastically agreed.

Cookie exchanges aren’t part of the Hanukkah tradition (at least not where I grew up), so it’s one of those things I’ve looked enviously on from afar. This virtual version sounded like a great idea, and I had fun choosing a favorite recipe and baking a batch to photograph and write about.

But when it came time to write this post, the whole enterprise felt frivolous.

In light of what happened at a Connecticut elementary school this week, how can I happily yammer on about cookies and holidays? How can we all go on living our lives as if the horrifying and heartbreaking things that happen every day aren’t happening?

We can’t, but then we can. What else is there to do?

We go on. We live our lives, acknowledging how lucky we are, at least in this moment. We stay grateful for what we have, in spite of anything we’ve lost. We hurt for others facing unbearable grief, and we keep turning our faces to the sun, seeking light. We reach out, we do one little thing to help someone else get a foothold, we shut our mouths and listen. And then we keep on living.

We each have our turn at sadness, but we can’t let that consume our every waking moment. Living is not forgetting. Living is just keeping on, doing what we can to make things better, sharing a little kindness, and holding those who are hurting in our hearts.

So… we listen with horror and sadness to the news, hug each other close, and do what we can to create more light.

H's menorah

Sometimes, the little bit of light we can shine is by doing a simple thing, like making a batch of cookies for your family, or to send to friends, wishing them health and peace in this fragile world. It may not be much, and it may not fix anything, but it probably won’t make things any worse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Please visit Di’s blog to see her cookies and a round-up of the rest of the offerings for this virtual exchange. Di, thank you so much for inviting me to join this year. I wish you and your family a happy holiday and a beautiful new year. And I wish everyone participating in this cookie exchange could be together, sharing these cookies in person.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt

Chocolate Caramel Cookies with Sea Salt

You can find the recipe for these cookies here, on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog.

Recipe notes:

:: Soft caramels make these cookies even better because then the cookies’ caramel centers stay soft, even at room temperature. But even the standard Kraft caramels you find at the grocery store will do if that’s all you can find. For one batch, I used sea salted caramels from Red Kite Candy. For another, I used sea salted caramels from Sweet Lolo’s. Both turned out delicious.

:: The recipe says it makes two dozen cookies. I cut the caramels into three pieces each, rolled the pieces into half-inch diameter balls, then wrapped the dough around the caramel to form 1-inch balls. This yielded 30 one-and-a-half-inch diameter cookies. Experiment to find the size you like. The idea is to get a ratio of caramel to chocolate where there’s enough caramel in the center to taste, but not too much that it all leaks out during baking (some cookies will, inevitably, leak; you get to keep those).

:: Non-fat Greek yogurt works great. So does 2% yogurt, or full-fat. In a pinch, sour cream will work, too.

:: I use whatever cocoa I have on hand. For the most recent batch, I tried King Arthur Flour’s Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa and like the resulting dark color and intense chocolatey taste of the cookies.

:: When you bake, set your timer for 9 minutes and start watching the cookies carefully at that point. The recipe says to bake for 10 to 12 minutes, but I never made it past 10 without some of the cookies leaking a bit of caramel.

:: The cookies freeze well in a resealable plastic bag (defrost them by setting them out at room temperature in their bag). They also refrigerate well for several days.

:: If your house is like mine and “room temperature” in December is 60ºF, feel free to microwave the cookies for a few seconds before serving to warm them up and melt the caramel slightly.

:: These cookies taste darn good with a glass of red wine.

:: These cookies taste best when you share them with friends.

Teeny tiny happy news

remedy

Awhile back, I wrote a little thing about comfort, family, and my favorite bread: Challah.

And it’s published in the current issue (11) of Remedy Quarterly, a beautiful, hand-crafted little magazine devoted to food, recipes, and memories.

I wrote something (non-technical) and someone else published it!

Wheeeee!

This hasn’t happened to me for a long, long time. To say I’m excited is a bit of an understatement.

By coincidence, the cool recipe and food community web site, Food52, published its Holiday Gift Guide last week, and Remedy Quarterly is on its list!

I know!

Wheeee!

(Uh oh. I’m getting awfully close to writing my first “Squeeee!”)

My copy hasn’t arrived, so part of me still doesn’t believe it’s true. Right now, I’m trusting that photo above, taken by Remedy’s creator and designer, Kelly Carámbula. And I’m keeping my eye on the mailbox.

p.s. The magazine has printed my piece about Challah as well as the recipe. You can see just the recipe here, in an earlier blog post.

Update: I just found out that Saveur has included Remedy Quarterly in its list of 16 Great Indie Food Magazines!

Make your own light

Membrillo - Quince

Membrillo - Quince

Want to do a little kitchen sorcery?

With a little bit of heat, a heaping of sugar, and a couple hours of time, you can transform what looks like a yellowish apple into a magical, reddish-golden paste.

You can turn a dark corner light.

Membrillo-Prep

I first tasted dulce de membrillo (quince paste) several years ago. It arrived as thin slivers on a cheese plate in a restaurant that knew how to do cheese right.

On its own, membrillo tastes sweet but complex, a blend of pear, citrus, honey, vanilla and flowers. Eat a thin slice of it with a bite of Manchego cheese, and there is another sort of alchemy, like when you spread a bit of fig jam on a smear of chèvre and your eyes pop open wide because the combination is the edible equivalent of waking up and realizing it’s a Saturday.

Membrillo-puree

Membrillo - Cooking down

I never imagined membrillo was something I could make on my own. For special occasions, we buy it (imported from Spain), at our local cheese counter and always feel lucky that we can get it that easily.

Then, about a year ago, I saw that Sara at Three Clever Sisters had made it and the light bulb that perpetually hovers dimly over my head sizzled to life.

You mean…I can make this myself?

What devilish magic is this?

Membrillo - Ready to dry

It turns out that the hardest part about making this recipe is finding the quince. Once you’ve done that, the rest is a cinch.

The neatest part of the whole process (I think) is the color change. The slow cooking gently breaks down the quince and changes the pulp from a pale yellow puree that resembles applesauce to a thick, golden-to-red paste. Mine didn’t get quite as red as the kind we buy in the store, but I cooked it as far as I was willing, before the paste started to scorch.

Membrillo - Dried

The recipe I used is from Simply Recipes. You’ll see that the ingredients are just quince, a vanilla bean, a lemon, and sugar.

But the recipe neglects to mention the magic incantation that assures success:

Let the sun shine

Membrillo

Membrillo

Membrillo

When life gives you pie dough

Pie Dough Cookies

Life seems a bit hard right now.

This is not to say that it doesn’t also feel beautiful and hopeful. Life is not so compartmentalized. The good and bad and brilliant and sad are usually jumbled in one big pile and you can choose which pieces you pick up and carry with you on a particular day.

This morning, I looked out on an ice-crystal field. And I thought about distant people and time, and out of the pile I picked out the memory of these cookies. I suppose I learned this recipe from my grandmother, Pearl. It might be more accurate to say that I “absorbed” them. I watched her make them. She never articulated them as a recipe. It’s just what you did with the dough scraps left over after you made a pie.

Pie Dough Cookies

Have you ever made them? Don’t you love their flaky simplicity? (Hey, maybe I should name my band “Flaky Simplicity”.)

On the highly unlikely chance that you haven’t, here’s what you do:

  • Make your favorite pie dough (this is the one I use most often, though any flaky dough works).
  • Make your favorite pie (ours is apple, made with golden russets). I suppose you could skip this step and just make the cookies without the pie, but that would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
  • Ball up the dough scraps.
  • Roll them out until thin (1/8″? you decide what’s right).
  • Cut into diamonds, squares, or whatever shapes you prefer.
  • Place cookies on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
  • Bake at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes, until puffed and just slightly colored (you don’t want to overbrown them; they should be light and flaky).
  • Remove the cookies from the sheet and cool them on a rack (but it’s totally legitimate to eat them when they’re still warm).

Pie Dough Cookies - dough

Pie Dough Cookies - rolled

Pie Dough Cookies - strips

Before you bake them, you can sprinkle them with cinnamon-sugar as my grandmother did (and I usually do). Or you can leave them naked and then dust them with powdered sugar after they come out of the oven. Or you can dip them in Nutella, or cajeta (now there’s a thought…).

They won’t change your life. They won’t erase the sad things. But that’s not their job. They’re just here to be easy, to give you a small cookie-shaped hug and remind you that everything really will be okay. And because they’re leftover scraps? Yeah, no calories either.

Pie Dough Cookies

Pain au levain

Pain au levain

Well, here we are, November.

You and I don’t get along so well. I resent you for stealing my summer warmth. You blithely turn the sun off at 4.15 pm. You freeze the water in the goat’s water buckets every night. You slither your brittle, windy fingers through the walls in this old house. What’s worse, you seem indifferent to my whining.

This month’s Let’s Lunch theme is gratitude. And I admit at first I found little to be grateful for. Because I’m a November grumpy pants.

But even just a few minutes of making a list of all I have to be grateful for yielded an embarrassment of riches (not to mention my embarrassment at not knowing how to spell “embarrassment”).

Health, family, shelter, power, heat, functioning limbs and brain, warm food when I need it, freedom, choice, a light I can switch on when the sun sets, seemingly limitless clean water rushing out of the faucet.

How many people on earth can claim that list? How many people, even on just the east coast of the United States are without warmth and light right now, on this bitter, November-swept day? How many people around the world live in fear, under persecution, without freedom, without adequate food, or healthcare, or clean water?

When I wrote “embarrassment”, I wasn’t joking.

So, in gratitude, I decided to make this simple, unadorned, most basic thing to share for our lunch: a sourdough loaf of bread, from my favorite pain au levain recipe, by James MacGuire.

(Note that the original recipe is a fourteen-page long, wonderful tour through the history of french sourdough breads in issue 83 of The Art of Eating. The recipe I’ve linked to here is a slightly adapted version of that recipe.)

Pain au levain - Starter measured

StarterToRoughDough

FoldProgression

Shaping

Flour, water, salt, wild yeast.

Hands, time, heat.

That’s all you need. Plus a little bit of patience.

You don’t even need a mixer, or a spoon.

This is a slow bread, made by mixing the dough with one hand, then “folding” the dough once an hour for four hours.

If you’re at home on a quiet weekend day, you can easily fit it into your schedule: fold for thirty seconds, go back to reading your book in front of the fire, or playing “Careers” with your kids, or raking the lawn. Visit the bread in another hour and see how it’s changed, give it another quick fold. Go back to the laundry, or making soup, or those phone calls you have to make.

You see how it goes.

Gratitude. It can be tangible. And eaten with a slice of perfectly aged goat cheese.

I only wish I could sit down at a table tonight and share it with you.

Pain au levain

Here’s a complete list of the recipes of gratitude made this month by the Let’s Lunch crew (I’ve included my own at the bottom for completeness). Check them out!

Gratitude “Plumb” Cake from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Gratitude Fried Rice from Linda at spicebox travels
Seafood Chowder from Lucy at A Cook and Her Books
Cracked Black Pepper and Blue Cheese Crackers (gluten free) from Charissa at Zest Bakery
A Thanksgiving tablecloth tradition from Lucy at In a Southern Kitchen
Gratitude Soup from Rashda at Hot Curries and Cold Beer
Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar (gluten free) from Linda at Free Range Cookies
Pumpkin Roll with Pecans from Annabelle at a Glass of Fancy
5-Minute Wonder Soup from Eleanor at Wok Star
Green Tomato Salad from Renee at My Kitchen and I
Asian-Style Pickled Oyster Mushrooms from Joe at Joe Yonan
Pain au levain from Rebecca at GrongarBlog

Polyphemus’ Ambrosial Roasted Tomato Soup

Here's looking at you

Scary.

I loved this month’s Let’s Lunch theme the instant I read it. I just knew there would be a zillion fun possibilities. Muaaah ha ha!!! Cue creepy music. This was going to be such fun!

Problem was, I couldn’t think of anything scary that I actually wanted to eat.

Ghosts made from homemade marshmallows? Nah.

Brownie-bodied spiders? Ick.

“Frog guts” made from food-colored rice krispie treats. Gag.

My mind was a blank. Nada. Zippo. Bupkis.

What did I really want in all this rain and cold and drear? (If you’re in the US Northeast, maybe you’ve noticed it’s been raining for weeks…).

What I really wanted was a warm, soothing soup. Something that held a hint of summer’s brightness and warmth. Ain’t nothing scary about that.

Then I saw this picture, and my creaky brain wheels began to slowly turn.

Tomato soup. Made from slow-roasted tomatoes and a bit of saffron, rich-tasting, but not heavy. Comforting and warm, but easy to make.

Slow-roasted tomatoes

And the eye? That definitely put the dish high on the creep factor chart.

The original picture uses what looks like a peeled hard boiled egg. It works, but…yeah, I don’t really like eggs. They scare me, but not in the Halloween spooky way.

What else?

Ah…. I remembered that really cool Molecular Gastronomy kit my sister gave me as a gift. There’s a recipe in that kit for making “yogurt ravioles” which look a whole lot like pupil-less eyes.

Eyeballs

Oh yes. Mad scientist lab experiments! Now we’re cooking!

So, with the help of Hyla, my “cycloptic assistant”, I set to work in my kitchen lab.

H's very creepy eye

Fun with food coloring

We tried two methods: painting with gel food coloring, which gave a really bloody and oozy effect; and the more restrained olive slice pupil and saffron thread veins. Both have their merits.

Either way, the eye pops in your mouth, then oozes. Gross, right? Perfectly scary.

Hey, while you’re making roasted tomatoes for the soup, why not make a second tray so you can put some roasted tomatoes into the freezer for the winter? ‘Cause what’s scarier than a bowl of soup that stares back? A whole winter without a roasted tomato. That’s what.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are some other scary offerings from fellow Let’s Lunchers:

Lisa’s Pretzel fingers at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Lucy’s fabulously spooky Halloween cakes at A Cook and Her Books
Annabelle’s Halloween Spice Cookies at A Glass of Fancy
Linda’s Pumpkin Spiced Flan at Spicebox Travels
Rashda’s Spooktacular Stuffed Pumpkin at Hot Curries & Cold Beer
Joe’s Sloppy Vegan Joe with Mock Meat at Joe Yonan

Polyhemus’ Ambrosial Roasted Tomato Soup

Makes about one quart of soup

Ingredients

For the roasted tomatoes (I use this recipe from Fine Cooking):

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-1/2 to 5 lb. medium-large ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 12), stemmed but not cored
  • kosher salt
  • granulated sugar
  • scant 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

For the soup:

  • 1 medium shallot, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • plain yogurt or sour cream
  • the end sliced off one black olive

Method

  1. Oven roast the tomatoes using the Fine Cooking recipe or any method you prefer. This will take 3-4 hours. It’s fine to do this a day or two in advance. Let the roasted tomatoes cool, put them and any pan juices into a sealed container, and then store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make soup.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot, saute the sliced shallots with the tablespoon of olive oil over low heat. You want the shallots to get nice and soft, but not to brown or burn. This can take about ten minutes.
  3. Add the roasted tomatoes and all of the reserved juice to the pot.
  4. Add two cups of stock.
  5. Puree the stock with the tomatoes and shallots, either by using a hand blender in the pot, or batch by batch in a blender or food processor. I pureed my soup until it was smooth, but if you prefer a lumpier soup, by all means, puree as much or as little as you like.
  6. If you used a blender or food processor, return the soup to the pot.
  7. Add the remaining two cups of stock and a pinch of saffron. Stir to combine with the tomatoes, juice, and shallots, then slowly bring the mixture just to the edge of a boil.
  8. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve with or without optional eyeball. To add the eyeball, you can either make a “yogurt raviole” (as demonstrated in this video), or just add a generous dollop of firm sour cream or Greek yogurt. You could also use a peeled, hard-boiled egg. Finish the “eye” with a slice of black olive for a pupil and saffron threads for gross-out veins. If you’re being extra creative, you can use some red food coloring to give the eye a blood-shot hue. Yum!

A honey of a loaf

Challah - baked

Where are my manners?

I’ve blathered about this Challah many times. I’ve mentioned it offhand in the course of other posts. I’ve even done a side-by-side comparison with at least one other Challah recipe. But somehow I’ve neglected to share the recipe with you.

So what better day to do that than on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year? It’s the perfect occasion for a festive, enriched bread, drizzled with a swirl of honey to help ring in a sweet new year.

Challah_YeastToMix

Let me tell you, you need to make this bread.

Even if you don’t usually make bread, you need to make this bread.

As breads go, it’s an easy one. From start to finish, it’ll take just five hours, and only a fraction of that is time you’ll actually spend doing anything other than watching it rise to the lip of the bowl you’re proofing it in.

If you have a stand mixer, go ahead and use it; the bread won’t suffer one bit. I’ve kneaded this dough dozens of times, both by hand and by machine. With either method, you’ll be rewarded with one of the silkiest, friendliest doughs you’ve ever made.

Challah_Kneading

For shaping, use whatever method and shape you like. When I was growing up, the gorgeous braided Challah was reserved for special occasions: holidays, bar mitzvahs, weddings. Our everyday Challah was made in sandwich loaves, perfect for slicing and toasting.

Oh, the toast! If for no other reason than the toast, you must make this bread!

Challah - folded

Ahem. But back to shaping.

Challah

I usually make a simple three-strand braided loaf: cut the proofed dough into three equal pieces, shape them into long strands, and braid them together as you would a plait of hair. If you prefer something even simpler, just shape it as you would any regular sandwich loaf and proof it in a loaf pan. You can also divide it two smaller loaves.

If you want to be more daring, try a six-strand braid, using this helpful video as your guide.

For the loaf I made last night, I decided to try the four-strand round braid, so beautifully illustrated here. The round loaf is nice. It has more loft than the three-strand braid, so you get taller, thicker slices, and a bigger interior-to-crust ratio, if you like that. Be warned, though, if you do a round loaf, it’ll take a little bit more time to bake.

Challah_shaping

Before baking, the last thing you’ll have to decide is if you want to put any toppings on the Challah. If you like to keep things simple, brush on an egg wash (an egg yolk mixed with a teaspoon of water) just before you put the loaf into the oven. If you’d prefer, after the egg wash, you can sprinkle on some poppy or sesame seeds, or anything else you like to sprinkle on bread.

Let it bake fully. You want the interior temperature to be about 190ºF. Resist the temptation to slice into it right away. Let it cool a bit to let the interior finish cooking. The last thing you want is a soggy loaf.

But please don’t wait until it’s cool before you get a taste. It’s very nice cool. It’ll taste great. You can cut slices and drizzle honey on them, or eat them plain, or toast them (yes!).

But warm. Oh, warm slices of Challah. Is there anything better?

Yes, there is: fist-sized lobes of dough ripped off the still-warm loaf.

And kittens and baby goats. Cuddled while you’re eating warm Challah.

Challah - crumb

Challah - toasted

Challah - jammed

I’ve tried many Challah recipes, but I always come back to this one. It never fails. I hope you love it, too.

L’Shana Tova to you and yours. May it be happy, healthy, prosperous, and sweet as honey.

Challah

(adapted from Second Helpings, Please)

Ingredients
1 tsp sugar
½ cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ tsp of instant yeast)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup warm water
¼ cup sugar (or honey, if you prefer)
2 tsp salt
2 large eggs (if you can find them, I think duck eggs make the best challah)
4 –5 cups all-purpose flour (or substitute whole wheat flour for up to half of the all-purpose; I like using King Arthur Flour’s white whole wheat.)
1 egg yolk
poppy or sesame seeds (optional)

Method

  1. If using active dry yeast, rinse a large mixing bowl with hot water. Dissolve sugar in ½ cup of warm water. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. If using instant yeast instead, you can omit the 10-minute wait.
  3. Add oil, water, sugar, salt, eggs, and half of flour. Stir to dissolve, and then beat well.
  4. Stir in the remaining flour. The dough should be sticky.
  5. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes (or knead in a stand mixer for ~7 minutes). Add as little flour as you can get away with. The dough should be tacky but not sticky (if you’re using a mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but stick to the bottom).
  7. Round up in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 ½ – 2 hours.
  8. Gently deflate, cover, and let rise again until double, about 45 minutes.
  9. Divide the dough into three equal parts (or six, if you are making two small loaves). Shape into strands. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet (or use a silpat or parchment paper) and braid loosely. Fasten ends securely.
  10. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double, 30-45 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 400°.
  12. Brush with a beaten egg yolk. If you’re going to add poppy or sesame seeds, sprinkle them on now.
  13. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes, until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190-200ºF. If you’re making a round loaf, allow extra baking time, up to another 20 minutes or so. If you see the crust browning too quickly but the internal temperature is not high enough yet, tent the loaf with aluminum foil to keep it from getting too dark.

Baklava ice cream

Baklava ice cream

We’ve arrived at the last day of Ice Cream Week and today’s theme is Original Recipe.

Though this is the last ice cream recipe I’m posting in this series, it’s actually the first one I made. When family came to visit in late June, we had the idea of making a Greek feast for the first night.

Baklava ice cream - Chopped walnuts

Deciding what to serve for dinner was easy, especially when my sister offered to pick up dolmas, hummus, and fresh pita from one of the Armenian groceries outside of Boston. But dessert had me a bit stumped. I wanted to make baklava, but I knew this crowd was going to be in the mood for a light dessert. I wanted something less than full-on baklava, but something more than a bowl of fruit.

Baklava ice cream - Vanilla & cinnamon

When Phyl suggested Ice Cream Week, it occurred to me that I could make a baklava ice cream and serve it in tiny scoops so that guests could choose to have just a bite and still feel like they had something special.

When I didn’t find a baklava ice cream recipe that I liked (in particular, I wanted the ice cream to incorporate the delicate rose-flavored syrup of my favorite baklava recipe), I decided to create my own by combining components from other recipes to make a vanilla-cinnamon-honey base, drizzled with rose-water syrup and sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Baklava ice cream - Honey

I love how this one turned out. The ice cream has exactly the flavor and texture I was hankering for, and the tiny pre-made phyllo shells that M found at the grocery store turned the mini desserts into finger food. Just the right ending to our Greek dinner, and to Ice Cream Week. Thanks for the fun idea, Phyl!

““““““““““
Here’s a recap of the ice creams from the week:

Blueberry-buttermilk ice cream
Goat yogurt-cajeta ripple
Mango ice (Raspado de mango)
Nutella gelato

And here are the original ice cream recipes that the rest of the gang has churned up:

Margaret’s Tea and Biscuit Ice Cream
Phyl’s Guinness Stout Ice Cream
Di’s Darkest Chocolate Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Baklava ice cream

Makes about 1 quart
for the ice cream base
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup honey

for the rose syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon rose water

1 cup walnuts, chopped
mini phyllo shells (mini puff pastry shells or mini waffle cups will also do)

  1. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the milk and the cornstarch and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt together, and set aside.
  3. Combine the remaining milk, the cream, the split vanilla beans and seeds, and the cinnamon sticks in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a low, rolling boil, and cook for four minutes.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the cornstarch mixture and the honey.
  5. Return the mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring, until the mixture is slightly thickened, for one or two minutes (note: if it doesn’t thicken much, don’t worry).
  6. Gradually whisk the hot milk/cream mixture into the cream cheese.
  7. Chill the mixture overnight (or use Jeni’s quick-cool method).
  8. Make the syrup by combining the sugar and water and bringing to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Add the rose water, return to a boil, cook for 3-4 minutes, then let cool.
  9. Remove the vanilla beans and cinnamon sticks from the chilled base.
  10. Freeze the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  11. In a freezer-safe container, add a layer of the ice cream base, then drizzle in a layer of syrup, then add a layer of chopped nuts, then another layer of ice cream, and so on, until the container is full.
  12. Cover with a sheet of parchment cut to size, seal container tightly, and freeze for several hours until hard.
  13. To serve, warm the phyllo shells according to package directions. Use a teaspoon or small cookie or ice cream scoop to make a tiny scoop of ice cream and place it in the crisped shell. If you have any syrup or nuts left, you can add a final drizzle or sprinkle to the top of the ice cream. Serve 2-3 mini scoops/shells per person.