This was really delicious. I must confess, when I made baklava, I didn’t make it just for the baklava–I made it for this dessert. This isn’t to say baklava by itself isn’t amazing (which it most definitely is), but why settle for one amazing thing when you can have two? Yes, I made baklava so that I could use it as an additive to cardamom honey ice cream.
The cardamom-honey ice cream custard-base really stole the show–it was intense, just the right creamy texture, sweet, and just out of the ordinary. Cardamom is one of my favorite spices that really is beyond my ability to describe–it works so well in savory and sweet applications, kind of like cinnamon–and in this case, it really gave the ice cream an incredible flavor backbone.
Combined with chunks of baklava, you had a great contrast visually, texturally, and flavorally (go, made up words, go!)–crunchy, cinnamon spiced nuts, delicate, flakes of buttery pastry, pockets of honeyed, rose-scented syrup–oh it was really something. I’ve said it before, but we have a new favorite ice cream ever in the Mulligan household, and this is it (I should just keep a list off to the side…). This was an ice cream complex enough in taste that you really just had to sit there and think about it…in between each ravenous, lustful spoonful, of course.
Since I made this dessert for a small dinner party, I wanted to dress it up a little as a bowl of ice cream, no matter how great it tastes, just doesn’t look all that elegant. Since I still had baklava handy, I decided to serve them side by side (kind of as a reminder that there’s baklava in the ice cream), and it only seemed fitting with all of the phyllo dough at play, that I have a faux-ice cream cone, in this case, a cup made of saffron-butter brushed phyllo dough. Every plate was quickly cleaned, so I’d say this dessert went over rather well.
- ~2 cups worth crumbled/chopped chunks of baklava
- 1 cup whole milk
- 15-20 cardamom pods
- 7 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Phyllo cups (optional–this yields 6 cups, scale up as desired)
- 2-3 Tbsp butter
- 4-5 sheets phyllo dough
- Even more optional: pinch of saffron
Begin by slitting the cardanom pods and exposng the inside. Place these in with the milk in a saucepan and scald (do not boil). Remove this from the heat and let it steep for at least 30 minutes to infuse the milk with cardamom flavor.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the color changes.
Set up an ice bath with a bowl of cream and mix in some ground cardamom. Place a strainer over this and set this aside.
Reheat the milk, and once nice and hot, temper the egg mixture with it before you mix the eggs into the hot milk saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, figure somewhere around 5-10 minutes.
Pour this hot mixture through the strainer into the cold cream and mix well, adding the honey as you mix. Cover this bowl with plastic wrap, pressing it right against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer this to the fridge for 6 hours.
With the custard prepared, now coarsely chop up some of your baklava and transfer this to the fridge (not that baklava needs to be chilled, but you do want it to be cold when mixed with the ice cream later).
Once the custard has chilled sufficiently, churn it in your pre-chilled ice cream maker for about 20 minutes, and once time is up, add in the chopped chunks of baklava, churning for an additional minute or two. Transfer this to an airtight container and move to the freezer overnight.
Now normally, the ice cream making endeavor would end here, but there’s one more flourish that will make for a great looking plate when serving time comes around: the edible bowl, in this case, the ever appropriate phyllo cup. You can do this well in advance of serving time.
Begin by laying out your phyllo dough (thawing out if using store bought) and melting and clarifying your butter. Crumble the saffron and let it steep in the melted butter for a few minutes before you get to work.
Follow the usual phyllo dough layering procedure: lay a sheet, brush lightly all over with clarified butter, lay on another sheet, repeat. For these cups, stack about 4 or 5 sheets. Also, preheat the oven to 350°F.
With the phyllo stacked up, slice the phyllo into squares big enough to fill each hole in your muffin pan (for me, that meant 6 squares from my initial phyllo sheet).
Either grease the muffin pan, or, for something easier, ensure the underside of your phyllo sheet also gets brushed with butter before you carefully press the phyllo squares into each hole in the muffin pan. Don’t worry about the shape being perfect–semi-jagged/flaky edges just look rustic, but if its really sloppy, clean things up a bit.
Once you’ve built all of the cups, put this in the oven for about 8 minutes, keeping an eye on them towards the end to ensure that they only brown a little bit and don’t burn. Once done, get them out of the oven and out of the muffin pan so that they don’t cook any further and give them time to cool.
If making these well in advance, do not refrigerate or they’ll lose that flaky, crispness.
When you finally go to serve this, fill the phyllo cup with a good scoop of ice cream, accompany with a piece of baklava, and give a swirl of syrup on the plate. For the syrup, I reduced a bit of the honeyed baklava syrup to be even thicker than it already was (by the time I got the photo, you’d never know any more ).