Find a new way to cool off, with Middle Eastern Sweets
Add fresh flavours to your ice pops and chilled desserts this summer using our new book of Middle Eastern delights
Think it’s heating up where you are? Well, over the next few days, it’s going to top 31 degrees Celsius (87.8 fahrenheit) in Beirut; 39 degrees c (102.2 f) degrees in Damascus, and 48 c (118.4 f) in Baghdad.
Given those temperatures, it’s no great surprise to see that Salma Hage, the Bestselling Lebanese author, has dedicated an entire chapter to ice creams in her new book, Middle Eastern Sweets.
The chef and cookbook author drew on her own family’s recipes, but also included dishes from cooks elsewhere in the region, to create a book that allows home cooks to recreate a sweet taste of the Middle East, whether they’re in Anchorage or Ankara.
You’ll know lots of the dishes featured in the book; it includes recipes for brioche and brownies. However, you might not be quite so familiar with the spicy, toothsome and nutty twists Hage includes in her recipes.
If it’s warm where you are, why not try the frozen yoghurt ice pops pictured above? As Hage explains in the book, they’re a light way to a meal, or cool off on a hot afternoon. “I dip the frozen ice pop into ground pistachios, which adds a pleasing crunch and flavor that pairs perfectly with the yogurt and honey,” she writes.
To make them you’ll need 6 × 3fl oz/ 00 ml ice pop molds; ½ cup (3½ oz/100 g) honey; 2½ cups (1 lb 2 oz/500 g) Greek yogurt; and ½ cup (2¾ oz/80 g) raw pistachios.
Simply mix the honey and yogurt together and divide between the molds. Freeze for 5–6 hours, or overnight.To serve, crush the pistachios to a fine crumb and place in a bowl. Dip the end of each ice pop into the pistachios to half coat them.
For a more impressive freezer dish, try dark chocolate and tahini ice cream. It might sound like an unusual pairing, but, as Hage points out, “toasted sesame tahini has a wholesome, nutty flavor that balances out the bitter intensity of dark chocolate.”
You’ll need a generous cup (9 fl oz/250 ml) of heavy (double) cream; two generous cups (18 fl oz/500 ml) of whole milk; a vanilla bean; six egg yolks; a generous ¾ cup (6 oz/170 g) of golden superfine (caster) sugar; 7 oz/200 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids); ½ a cup (3½ oz/100 g) of light tahini and a ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt.
Pour the cream and milk into a large saucepan. Split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the pan. Add the pod too. Heat the milk and cream mixture gently until just under the boil. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thickened. Pour half the hot milk mixture into the beaten yolks and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining hot cream in the pan and stir continuously over a low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and suspend the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and glossy. Pour in the tahini and stir. Allow the chocolate and tahini mixture to cool to room temperature, then add it to the milk and cream mixture and beat until it is an even colour.
Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan or an 8 × 8-inch (20 × 20-cm) deep baking dish. Cover and place in the freezer. Remove every 30 minutes and beat with a fork to break up the ice crystals. Repeat this 6 times (over 3 hours). After this time, remove after 2 hours and beat again before returning to the freezer to freeze completely.
For fuller recipes, as well as plenty of other great, tasty, surprising updates on sweet treats order a copy of Middle Eastern Sweets here.