Persian Saffron Ice Cream (Bastani)

 
 
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Persian cuisine is one of the world’s great gastronomies, flourishing for centuries across an area that, at the height of the ancient Persian Empire (circa 550 to 330 B.C.), included modern-day Iran, along with parts of Iraq, Macedonia, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia.

The repertoire of dishes is fragrant, diverse and highly refined, based on complex culinary techniques. They are imbued with fresh flowers and herbs like rose petals, fenugreek and mint; spices like saffron, sumac and cardamom; fruits like pomegranate and barberry; all kinds of citrus; and nuts, including pistachios and almonds.

If this roster of ingredients sounds familiar, it’s because Persian cooking influenced Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Northern Indian and Turkish cuisines yet itself remains somewhat below the radar.

 

It should be noted that Persia (Iran) has made many lasting contributions to the world of frozen desserts.

The Arabs, who had already conquered the Persian Empire, took the age-old Persian summertime refreshment known as sharbat (sherbet) where a mix of fruit syrup, saffron,  and honey was incorporated with snow and chilled in a  yakhchal, an ancient type of ice house. Alexander the Great, who battled the Persians for ten years, was known to  enjoyed “fruit ices” sweetened with honey and chilled with snow.

 

And had the brilliant addition of  milk and sugar gave rise to the invention of ice cream around 500 B.C. in the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and more than likely gave rise to  Bastani.

Bastani sonnati, or simply bastani  is made from milk, eggs, sugar, rose water, saffron, vanilla, and pistachios.  Modern day bastani often contains flakes of frozen clotted cream. Sometimes, salep or salaab is included as an ingredient.  Salaab is an extract from a wild orchid that thickens like cornstarch. Salaab gives bastani it’s texture and gives the ice cream bend and pull, almost like gluten, and it has a faint floral taste. Persian ice cream gets an extra dose of richness and texture from frozen chunks of heavy cream that are swirled into the base.

In 400 B.C., the Persians also invented an ice cream-like dessert made with rose water and vermicelli called faloodeh. Persians introduced ice cream and faloodeh to Arabs after the Arab invasion of Iran and the fall of Persian Sasanian. 

By the time of the Arab Conquest took place in across Sicily and Southern Italy in the 8th Century,  there was the development of  granita and gelato, two frozen treats that are now synonymous with modern day Italian desserts. 

Comparatively, the Persian ice cream sandwich made with faloodeh or faludeh, which  is a far more modern treat that was invented around the 13th Century. And shortly there after, Bastani-e nooni was created where the yellow hue of the saffron ice cream and the aroma of rose water are married to make a cool,  smooth textured creamy treat countering the crispy wafers and crunchy sprinkling of pistachios. 

And did you know that a  Syrian immigrant named Ernest Hamwi is credited with crafting the cone on the fly at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, when he rolled his Middle Eastern zalabia pastries into cones to hold that year’s wildly popular confection, ice cream. And even in these modern times, on a warm evening, everyone from grandparents to young couples can be seen strolling and sitting in parks enjoying their cones and cups. Ice cream parlors abound, from the hole-in-the-wall take-out joint to the elegant café.

Over millennia, Iranians have made frozen treats into an art form, the upside of necessity in a country where summer brings extreme heat. In Bandar Abbas, the tropical Persian Gulf, where the temperature was in the nineties before it reached noon, the  still enjoy the ever refreshing faloodeh , the rice noodle and rosewater sorbet that Iranians like to brighten with a spritz of lemon juice. In the shomal, the wet, green, and fertile north that cradles the Caspian Sea, you will find the juicy, red popsicles made of whole fruits with their pits still inside.

And so, America’s favorite frozen treats had it origins in the  Middle East. But, it turns out, that ice cream came to Europe, and then America,  by way of the Arab invasion of Sicily , and thus, modern-day granita and gelato icy sharbat (sherbet) and velvety ice cream are still universally loved in Iran, in the U.S. and the rest of the world for that matter.

You can find Persian ice cream in the U.S, especially in Los Angeles, home to the world’s largest Iranian expat community. The two best known places are Mashti Malone’s, and at the Saffron and Rose

Mashti Malone’s is  an iconic ice cream parlor that makes the best Persian ice cream where you can get either faloodeh or bastani  served as an ice cream sandwich, pressed against two thin wafer cookies, and it is positively incredible. At the Saffron and Rose, you will find  delectable, handmade flavors range from orange blossom to white rose to pomegranate. 

Another Los Angeles Iranian establishment is the  Café Glacé, where you can slurp down a majoon, an ice cream shake blended with dates and bananas and topped with nuts. You’ll also find bastani-e nooni, the Persian ice cream sandwich: two thin, crisp wafers sandwiched around bastani. These can also be found in the freezer section of Iranian markets in different flavors, and if you’re lucky enough to go to an Iranian home for a meal, at dessert you may see a quart of ice cream and a box of wafers so you can make your own.

But if you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own Persian ice cream from scratch. But rest assured, there’s an easy way to whip up Persian-style ice cream without using any gadgets or dirtying up the kitchen and ending up with a sink full of dishes. In taking a short cut to making bastani, it is recommended that you buy a  good quality vanilla ice cream, letting it get a little soft at room temperature, and then folding in pistachios and a teaspoon of ground saffron steeped in a tablespoon of hot water or cream. You can add a dash of rosewater and frozen chunks of cream if you want. Refreeze and voila, “authentic” Persian ice cream.

 

Makes About 1 quart

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (* See Cook’s Notes)
7 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron, finely ground
1/4 cup Sadaf pure rosewater (** See Cook’s Notes)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Organic dried roses, for garnish

 

 

Directions:

To a small finger bowl, combine saffron threads and hot water and allow to seep until a vibrant orange red colour blooms.

Set a medium bowl in a large bowl of ice water. In another medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale, 1 to 2 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the cream with the milk, sugar, salt and saffron. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, whisking, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Very gradually whisk half of the hot cream mixture into the beaten egg yolks in a thin stream, then whisk this mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to lightly coat the back of the spoon, about 12 minutes; don’t let it boil.

Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl set in the ice water. Let the custard cool completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rosewater and vanilla extract. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

Pour the custard base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled 9-by-4-inch metaloaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least hours.

Serve the ice cream in bowls, garnished with dried roses and pistaschio nuts, if desired.

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

Some people think that turmeric is a fine substitute for saffron, IT IS NOT. Definitely DO NOT use turmeric in ice cream because you will end up producing a very bitter tasting product.

*Saffron
Bastani is traditionally a custard like ice cream, rich in flavor mixed with saffron, rose saffron_jar_680water and pistachios. It is quite recognizable with it’s glorious golden yellow color and aromatic from both the saffron and rose water.

The other key ingredient is saffron. You want a high quality saffron, which gives your bastani its golden color and intoxicating aroma. Crush your saffron using a mortar and pestle and dissolve in a bit of warm water. This should steep for about 30 minutes, so do this while your ice cream is softening.

Once your saffron water is redish orange, add it to your softened ice cream with the rose water and pistachio bits. You can also add a teaspoon or two of crushed dried rose petals. It adds a bit of color as well as fragrance.

How to choose the best saffron
The amount of saffron you use is dependent on the quality of the saffron used. This affects the final color of your ice cream as well as the fragrance and flavor.
Always buy saffron threads and not powder. High grade saffron threads are dark red, not orange and no trace of yellow. When you open your container of saffron you should be able to recognize it’s beautiful scent.

Yes, saffron can be expensive, but don’t be duped and purchase cheap saffron. The color and aroma produced will not be the same. The best high quality saffron comes from Iran and can be purchased at FamilySpice.com.

 

**Rose waterdownload (13)
Using a high-quality, pure rose water is essential for this recipe. Look for Sadaf brand, which is available at kalustyans.com.

If you cannot find rose water in your specialty markets, you can find it locally at Asian Markets, like HMart or online at Amazon.com.

 

Storing the Ice Cream
The ice cream can be frozen for up to 1 week in an airtight plastic container.

 

 

 

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Caramel Coconut Flan

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Serves 6

Ingredients:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 large eggs
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir the sugar continually with a wooden spoon until it begins to brown and clump together. Keep stirring until the sugar completely melts and dissolves into a golden-brown syrup. Remove the syrup from the heat as soon as it has dissolves as it can burn.

Working quickly, carefully pour the caramel into the ramekins, tilting them to coat the bottom and the sides.  Set the ramekins aside and allow the caramel coating to cool and harden.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk and vanilla extract. Whisk together until everything is fully combined Evenly pour the custard mixture into the caramel-coated ramekins.

Place the ramekins in shallow 9 x 13-in  baking dish. Pour enough hot water in the dish until it reaches about halfway up the pan.sides of the ramekins. Carefully place the baking dish in the oven and bake until just set, but still jiggly in the center, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the flan from the oven and allow to cool on a rack for about 15 to 20 minute.Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight. Note: the flan can be made three days in advance and can be refrigerated until ready to serve.

To serve,  dip the ramekins in a saucepan of hot water.Using your index finger, gently press down on the edges of the flan until the caramel begins to run up the sides of the ramekin, which indicated that the baked custard is loosened.  You can also  slide a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen it up. Place a plate  on top of the flan, grab a hold of both the plate and the ramekin and quickly invert so that the flan is now upside down. Carefully lift off the flan pan. ramekins. Your flan should be sitting in the caramel on the plate.

Garnish with fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream if desired.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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Chocolate Orange French Madeleines

 

IMG_0068Here is a Quarantine Kitchen Challenge…..

I was  craving something sweet and during this COVID19 Pandemic, and as I walked into my kitchen pantry to find:

No butter, no problem.
No chocolate chips, no problem.
No milk, no problem.
No flour, no problem……

But with the ingredients I did have on hand in my pantry, included:   Talenti Lemon Bar Gelato ®, eggs, oranges, vegetable and Hershey’s ® Cocoa powder, the dilemma of not having butter, milk , eggs, flour or chocolate was easily conquered. I quickly figured out that I could make…..Chocolate Orange French Madeleines. And here’s how I did it.

Makes about 3 Dozen

Ingredients:
For the Madeleines:
1 box  of yellow or white cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 pint of Talenti Lemon Bar Gelato®, melted
Zest of 1 large, orange divided
Vegetable spray or oil
All purpose flour, for dusting (if you have it on hand)

For the Chocolate Sauce:
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar

Special Equipment:
A madeleine pan

To make the Madeleines:
To a large bowl, add the cake mix, the oil, the eggs , the gelato and about 1/2 of the orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, blend the ingredients into a thick batter.

Lightly coat the madeleine pan with vegetable cooking spray or lightly brush with oil. Lightly dust with flour. Tap out the excess. Cover the batter with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Prepare a baking sheet, and place a wire rack over it for cooling. Prepare a second baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.

Remove the batter from the refrigerator. Using a measured tablespoon, fill  each shell with the batter Place the madeleines in the oven and bake for 10-15  minutes, until slightly golden, springy to the touch, and a skewer or toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove the tray of baked madeleines and t immediately, loosen the madeleines from the tray using a wooden skewer and then gently remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to finish cooling. If you leave the madeleines to cool in the baking tray then they will almost certainly get stuck.

In the mean time, prepare the chocolate sauce.

Add  the ingredients to a small sauce pan and stir until a smooth paste is achieved. Using a double boiler on the stovetop,  add the small sauce pan and gently heat until the chocolate is glossy and all the solids have dissolved.  Add more oil as needed to get the consistency desired. Set aside and keep warm in the saucepan in the double boiler.

Once the madeleines are cool, it is time to dip them in the chocolate. Pour  the chocolate into a  small mug or other tall and narrow bowl and dip the cooled madeleines into the chocolate.  Allow any  excess chocolate to drip back into the dipping container and then place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place the chocolate dipped madeleines in the  refrigerator for 10 – 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to completely set.

To serve, place the madeleines on a serving platter and garnish with the remaining orange zest.IMG_0122 madelines

Cook’s Notes:

These madeleines should stay fresh for 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container, although they are at their absolute best soon after coming out of the oven. The Madeleines can also be frozen for 2-3 months.

To replace one ounce of unsweetened chocolate, use 3 tablespoons cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon butter, shortening or oil. Dissolve the cocoa in liquid that is already used in the recipe.

To replace one ounce of semisweet chocolate, use 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus only 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter, shortening or oil and 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.

For more information on different types of chocolate, see All About Chocolate and, from Cooking LightChocolate Essentials.

If you cannot find Talenti Lemon Bar Gelato® in your local area, feel free to use plain vanilla ice cream.

Hello Friends!

All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!