Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Baklava Ice Cream

As I've said before, sometimes the most successful puddings arise from the worst disasters!  Take this year's Stour Puddings, and the customary baklava.  Baklava is the most delicious stuff, incredibly sticky and wonderful... so sticky, that my helper found it nearly impossible to remove from the baking tray, so there was a large amount of beautiful sticky, honey-glazed nuts and pastry left over.  I hate waste pudding!  The best option seemed to me to turn it into ice cream.... so... ta dah!!!!   Baklava Ice Cream.   And only last week I saw it offered as an amazing new flavour by a food writer, so there!   Here it is, glamorously served in an ice bowl.   The quantity of baklava below is approx a quarter of the standard recipe (also on the blog).   Obviously, as this was a left-over pudding, there wasn't a set quantity, so I simply used half the weight of the un-churned ice cream.

Baklava Ice Cream in an Ice Bowl

1/4 packet filo pastry – approx 4 leaves
2oz mixed nuts – salted peanuts/walnuts/pistachios
2oz Demerara sugar
melted butter (between quarter to half a pack)
1/4 jar runny honey (warmed in the microwave) 

Preheat the oven to 170 deg C and butter a small 9" square tin (one you don’t mind scoring with a knife).    Chop the nuts together (a blender is ideal for this) and add the sugar and a dusting of cinnamon. 

Lay out the filo pastry and cut it to size before covering it with a damp cloth while you are working (it helps to lay it out on something non-stick!).    Lay the first piece onto the baking tray and brush it with the melted butter.  Repeat with another two layers.   Then add an even layer of the nut/sugar mixture, about half of the mix.   Repeat with 2-3 layers of pastry, buttering each one.  Add the rest of the mixture, and finish with the final layers of pastry.  Butter the top piece. 

Cut two parallel lines in the baklava, and then the diagonal lines so you should end up with pretty diamondish shaped pieces (or simple oblongs if life is too short).   Bake in the oven until it is golden – about half an hour.   Remove from the oven, and immediately pour over the honey.  It should thoroughly drench the pastry. 

Lastly, leave it to soak for at least six hours, if you can.  The honey gradually works its way down into the bottom layers.   This keeps well, and shouldn’t be put into a fridge or it will go soggy. 

Baklava Ice Cream

3 egg yolks
1 pint/600ml double or single cream and milk mixed (more cream = richer ice cream)
4oz/120g caster sugar
Approx 8oz/220g chopped baklava (more if you are feeling generous)
1 dsp cinnamon

Warm the milk/cream in a pan until blood temperature.  Beat the eggs and sugar together in a bowl, add the cinnamon, milk and cream and then pour it all back into the pan.  Stir it gently until it thickens slightly, then allow it to cool.  Pour into an ice cream maker and churn until thick. 

Just before serving, add the chopped baklava and mix in roughly.   Makes approx. 1.5-2 litres.  

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is one of those all-time classic greats - the Italian pudding that is elegant in its simplicity, yet a perfect accompaniment to a fruit compote or sauce.   Strangely, on a table positively groaning with multifarious puddings, this one is extremely popular with the musicians and singers at Stour!  I made this four times over the two weekends of the Festival, and they disappeared every time.   I’ve used gelatine leaves in the recipe, as they give a quicker set and better texture than powder, plus fresh Kent cherries in a compote.   Not being great at turning things out of moulds, I did mine in little glass ramekin dishes instead. 

Vanilla Panna Cotta
Vanilla Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta:
4 leaves of gelatine
12 floz/350ml double cream
12 floz/350ml milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)
1 ½ oz/35g caster sugar
1 pod of vanilla

Cherry Compote:
½ lb/220g fresh cherries (preferably) with some extra to decorate
small amount of sugar and water
generous dash of some kind of fruit liqueur

6-8 ramekin dishes, depending on size

First, soak the gelatine in cold water until it goes soft.    In a large pan, mix together the cream, milk and sugar.  Break open the vanilla pod and scrape out all the little seeds with the point of a knife.   Add the seeds to the mixture, plus the pod.  Bring the temperature up to a gentle simmer, stirring to stop the milk sticking to the bottom of the pan.   Remove the pod.

Squeeze out the gelatine leaves and add them to the pan, then take the pan off the heat and stir until the gelatine has dissolved, as you don’t want stringy bits.   Pour into a jug, and then into the ramekins.  Leave a little room at the top for the cherries.   Chill until set – approx 2 hours.

Stone the cherries and put them into a pan with a little water, sugar to taste, and Framboise or cherry liqueur.  Simmer until the cherries release their delicious dark juice.   Allow the cherries to cool before serving. 

Serve with the cherry compote and the cracked black pepper tuiles (elsewhere on the blog).   If you make double the amount of cherries, you can put them into the Black Forest Trifle later!