I had made a a small series for national ice-cream month in July but I got so caught up on my travels and finishing up the last bits of my PhD that I did not post anything. This series is dedicated to the scents, scenes, tastes and flavours, I believe, are reminiscent of Arabia. The first in my three part series is this Rose Petal Ice-Cream. These ice-creams I will be sharing, I forewarn you, do not necessarily mean ‘traditional’, but instead, simply mean that I have chosen flavours that transport me immediately to the Middle East.
If there are three flavours that people always associate with this part of the world, it would be (1) Rosewater; (2) Orange blossom water; and (3) Pistachio. I love rosewater ice-cream, in fact, I love rose everything; Rose soaked figs, künefe drenched in rosewater syrup, rosewater scented mahallabiyah (milk pudding), gulab jamun, rose petal jam, even rosewater used in savoury dishes. The list could go on. Admittedly, a small amount does go along way, but whatever small amount I can taste, I can never truly get enough. There is something exuberantly haunting in its floral scent and the way in which it brings an extra dimension to a dish (to be honest, the same goes with orange blossom water, but lets not get carried away). Here I have decided to use fresh rose petals in order to bring a natural shade of colour to the ice cream and to highlight the beauty of summertime bounty. Instead of eggs, I decided to go eggless as I found that the bright colour of the yolks turned this ice cream a rather unappetising raw salmon colour. If you don’t have access to organic roses, then feel free to simply use rosewater on its own (to taste) and beetroot powder, if you wish to achieve a blush coloured ice-cream.
In this recipe, I paired the ice cream with mahleb, a highly loved and cherished spice used in Arabian baking, particularly in the making of ma’amoul. It’s flavour lies somewhere between cherry, almonds and roses and is what gives Arabian shortbread its distinctive flavour.
I do want to apologise for how runny the ice-cream looks. It seems like every time I wish to photography ice-cream, the weather suddenly becomes far too much for the ice-cream to take.
Eggless Rose Petal Ice Cream
Cooking time: 30 minutes plus freezing time
Makes: approximately 700ml
Feel free to simply use 1-2tsp more of rosewater instead if there are no fresh petals you can use. You could also use some natural food colouring, like beetroot powder to create a lovely pink shade.
500ml whole milk
400ml heavy cream
150g rose petals
200g caster sugar
4-5 tbsp cornstarch
2tbsp dried rose petals (for decoration)
Clean the rose petals and remove the bitter white tips. Blitz or grind the rose petals together with the caster sugar.
Pour the milk and heavy cream together into a saucepan over a medium/low heat. Add the rose sugar. Stir until the mixture begins to steam.
Place the tablespoons of cornstarch in a small bowl, add about 100ml of the cream mixture to the cornstarch and stir until a smooth paste is formed. Pour this into the saucepan and allow to barely reach a boil, stirring until thick. Turn off the heat, add the rosewater and stir to combine. Allow to cool completely (Note: if there are some lumps in the cream mixture, simply strain through a sieve).
When the mixture is cooled, pour into an ice-cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Pour into a container and place in the freezer to set. If you do not have an ice-cream machine, pour into a container and place in the freezer and stir every 30 minutes for 2 hours before allowing to set overnight.
To serve, remove from the freezer for 10 minutes to soften the ice-cream. Scoop out some ice-cream and place between two mahleb shortbreads. Roll the sides in dried rose petals (if desired) and serve immediately.
Cooking time: 30 minutes plus cooling
Makes: 12 shortbread biscuits
You can find mahleb in most Middle Eastern supermarkets or even online.
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
Preheat the oven to 160ºC (140ºC fan-assisted) 320ºF.
Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the flour and the mahleb and mix until a dough is formed (tip: if the dough is too wet, add extra flour, if the dough is too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water).
Roll out to a 1cm thickness and cut out into 3inch circles. Bake for 12-15 minutes (Note: they will still be slightly pale and soft to the touch). Allow to harden and cool completely.
Thank you for reading.