I was inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s Masterclass when creating this recipe. The inspiration came from his lesson about “Labneh” and from watching an interview about one of his books called “Sweet”. A book that he created with his good friend Helen Goh.
Although I don’t own the book I was particularly interested in a picture I saw that depicted one of the cakes that are featured inside the pages of the book. It was a gorgeous cake decorated with rose petals dipped in sugar.
So… I decided to showcase this incredibly versatile ingredient (“Labneh”) by preparing it from scratch using what I learned on Masterclass and using fresh evocative ingredients like almonds, rose petals, lime, saffron and pistachio. There is nothing like a mix of spice, citrus and sugar to raise the spirits and create a moment of pure happiness!
For the Ice Cream
- Rose Water (1 tablespoon)
- Sweetened Condensed Milk (1 can / about 400 – 500 gr / about 1 cup and 1/2 – half or 1 cup and 3/4 – three quarters )
- 500 gr of Labneh / 2 cups (I used 850 gr / 3 cups of Full Fat Greek Yogurt when preparing the Labneh to make sure I have 500 gr / 2 cups as a result for the finished product!)
- 125 gr / 1 cup of baked and blanched Pistachios – sliced lengthwise
- 125 gr / 1 cup of baked and blanched Almonds – sliced lengthwise
- Edible Pink Rose Petals (20 gr / a few for decoration)
For the Custard
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or some vanilla extract / that is what I used)
- Double Cream (500 gr / 2 cups)
- Milk (500 gr / 2 cups)
- Sugar (200 gr / 1 cup)
- 10 Egg Yolks
- Kosher Salt (1 pinch of salt)
- Saffron (40 fine strands of saffron plus 10-15 extra for garnishing)
- Star Anise (2-3 stars)
- Lime Zest (the zest from 1 lime)
For the Ice Cream
The first step is to prepare the Labneh.
I started 24 hours in advance by straining Greek Yogurt in the fridge. All you have to do is line a colander with muslin and place it over a wide bowl. Take the yogurt and mix it very well with ¾ of a teaspoon of coarse salt like sea salt or kosher salt (to help draw out the excess moisture) then pour the yogurt on top of the muslin and into the muslin “bed” you created inside of your colander and tuck the corners of the muslin fabric on top of your yogurt. Make sure you place something heavy on top. Something like some cans of peas or beans or anything else that is heavy. Your pestle and mortar would be a good idea (that is what I used). Next, let it strain 12-24 hours (overnight would be best) in the fridge. The next day you should see the way on the bottom of the bowl. It will lose at least half of its volume if not more so be very careful when deciding what quantity of yogurt you are going to strain. It all depends on the recipe you need it for…
Now that we have our Labneh all done and ready to go we can start preparing our ice cream base.
With the help of a whisk, mix the Labneh with the can of Condensed Milk and the Rose Water. Then add in 75 gr of the Pistachios and 75 gr of the Almonds (you need to save the rest to garnish your dessert later!). Mix everything really well, then transfer to a suitable container lined with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. The container you choose is up to you. You could use a loaf tin or a cake tin, even a muffin tin would work well for individual servings.
For the Custard
Combine the milk, cream, and the scraped vanilla bean and pod in a saucepot over medium-low heat and gently stir with a rubber spatula. Add the saffron strands, and the star anise and bring to a simmer. Place the yolks in a mixing bowl, and beat them until they are homogenous. Add the sugar and a pinch of kosher salt and whisk until the mixture is well combined. To begin the tempering process, gradually ladle the hot milk and cream mixture into the mixing bowl one ladle at a time while whisking continuously. The aim is to gradually heat the egg yolks to the temperature of the warm milk and cream so as not to curdle the eggs. When the temperature of the yolks is similar to the temperature of the milk and cream (after about 4 ladlefuls), whisk the contents of the mixing bowl into the saucepot with the remaining vanilla cream. Swap your whisk for a flat-bottom wooden spoon and continue to stir as you cook to 185°F/85°C. The custard (or the crème anglaise) will be thickened and should coat the back of a spoon. Test by swiping your finger across the back of the coated spoon. If the sauce is thickened, the swipe should remain and not be filled in by runny sauce. Strain the custard through a chinois into a mixing bowl resting in an ice bath. Remove the vanilla pod. Whisk to help cool to room temperature. Once cooled and thickened, your dessert sauce is ready.
When it’s time to plate your dessert, take the ice cream out of the container you used to freeze it, unwrap it from the cling film and place it on a platter of your choice, then sprinkle the rose petals and the remaining almonds and pistachios on top.
Pour the saffron custard around the ice cream and sprinkle the custard with the 10-15 strands of saffron and the lime zest. You could also add some star anise just for garnishing purposes and for the amazing aroma (it’s up to you…)!
Serve it to your guests and enjoy all the uuuu’s and wooooow’s you’ll get!
Tip: I dare say you could serve it with some zabaglione instead of the custard. It’s just an idea to be put out there. You don’t have to. It depends on your taste! If you choose to do so, you can still use the lime zest or switch it with some lemon zest instead. Lemon is an amazing ingredient that is so versatile and it’s a must for me in many dishes. For me that would work…
Or you could add some fresh berries next to the zabaglione and the Ice Cream. That could be another delicious idea!
You can also use any other kind of ice cream for this recipe. Just pick your favorite flavor!