I can remember my first experience with baklava. I was about 12 and my Mom had brought home some food from a restaurant called the "Olive Tree" for dinner that night. It was my first exposure to Middle Eastern food and it was all wonderful...the tabouli, the crunchy falafel in pita pockets, and the stuffed grape leaves. But my favorite was the dessert. The baklava, which was incredibly sweet and honey filled, and so crunchy with the many layers of carefully placed filo dough and nuts. I would often times ask if we could pick up dinner from there just so I could have the baklava for dessert. Now as an adult, many baklavas are too sweet for my tastes. I had some at the state fair a few years back and it was bathed in way too much honey and sugar...so sticky that the filo was no longer crisp. I guess I am pretty picky about my baklava now, and if I find some good baklava I am in heaven. I have made a few batches myself that met my standards, and I have to say it disappears quickly around my house! I was browsing a cooking magazine last week and I came across a baklava cheesecake! It sounded amazing, but I wasn't looking for something that rich to make at the time. I had baklava on my mind after that though, and I decided that I must make something featuuring all of its delicious flavors.
I was craving ice cream...so bingo! Baklava ice cream would be perfect! I thought I could even make some filo cups to serve it in so the wonderful crunchy filo part of it would not be lost.
Now, I know traditional baklava has walnuts but I decided to put my own twist on it and use some almonds as well. I included a bit of almond butter in the base to make it wonderfully silky and melt in your mouth as well as almonds in my crunchy nut mix that was to be mixed into the ice cream and sprinkled over it to serve.
I added a good amount of cinnamon as well, and honey to give it the traditional baklava flavor. It was wonderful! Ok, so the filo cups were a little putzy, but once the dish was plated it was lovely. More importantly though it was delicious. All of the traditional things I love about baklava were there. Sticky sweet honey and the crunchy nuts and filo, but the ice cream added a rich element that made it even better! I shared some with my Mom who is also a baklava lover and she approved. We even talked about our past baklava buying and all the good memories associated with it. I love it when I can put my own twist on a dessert and it brings back good memories! I have included the recipe here if you would like to experience it as well!
Baklava Ice Cream
Makes 6 cups
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 2 Tbsp raw coconut nectar
- 2 Tbsp maple sugar or granulated sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 6 sheets filo dough
- coconut oil, warmed to liquid
- maple sugar
- 3 cups organic full fat coconut milk, chilled
- 3/4 cup raw coconut nectar
- 1/2 cup smooth roasted almond butter (no sugar added)
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange flower water
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
Coconut nectar for serving
- To make the crunchy nuts, preheat oven to 375F. Lay out a piece of foil and spray with non-stick spray. In a bowl, mix together nuts, nectar, sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt and toss until well combined. Spread out on sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes until nuts are fragrant and toasted. Remove from oven and let cool. You will have extra for serving the ice cream.
- To make filo cups, lay out 1 piece of filo dough. Brush it all over with coconut oil, then sprinkle with maple sugar and a little cinnamon. fold in half and repeat. Fold in half again and repeat, so that you still have a rectangle. Repeat and fold in half so that you have a square. Brush the top with coconut oil, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and fit into a muffin tin so that you have a cup. Repeat with remaining 5 pieces of filo dough and when all the cups are formed, bake in a 375 degree oven until crisp and browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and remove cups from tin.
- To make the ice cream, combine all ingredients in a blender, and process until well blended. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to package directions (mine takes about an hour, and is still a little soupy like the consistency of a malt, but firms up in the freezer later).
- Once processed, pour 1/3 into a freezable container with a lid, then scatter about 1/3 cup crunchy nuts over. Pour half remaining ice cream over, then more nuts, then the remaining ice cream and nuts. Swirl with a knife to distribute nuts throughout and place in the freezer for at least a few hours, or overnight to firm up for best results.
- To serve, scoop some ice cream into a filo cup, top with some of the extra nuts and drizzle with coconut nectar!
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