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Saffron-honey ice cream with candied ginger

Ice cream is my sugar treat. I can eat it every day! While marketing has given Italian gelatos the prime spot in the ice cream world, I am discovering that Persian and Middle Eastern ice creams reign supreme. Gelling agents like mastic and shadab, the root of the orchid plant, give these ice creams a lovely texture, richer, stringier, and creamier. Here is another superb version of ice cream.

The magic in this ice cream lies in the burnt honey. It is a slow and tedious process, and the honey can be burnt very quickly. The addition of saffron adds a luxurious flavour and aroma. The use of yoghurt instead of milk adds a lovely tart note. Finally, and the surprise, is the bite from the candied ginger, the spicy pop that makes the ice cream supreme. This is a mouthful of flavours that play beautifully on your palate. You are returning for seconds for this ice cream, maybe even a third helping!

Greg and Lucy Malouf have travelled the Middle East extensively, publishing several specialized cookbooks. This cookbook is one of my favourites, a thick volume filled with amazing recipes and photographs. This cookbook will make you want to get out to the closest Mediterranean store (or on Amazon) and order a pantry full of new ingredients for this cuisine. I have cooked a few, definitely not enough, recipes from this book; each is spectacular. I need to complete the collection of their cookbooks, oh I wish I had a larger cookbook budget. This book is for those who are looking for spectacular Middle Eastern cuisine.

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


1/2 cup light honey

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

A huge pinch of saffron strands

1 teaspoon dried ground ginger powder

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 cups Greek yoghurt

4 tablespoons sour cream

5 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely diced

Heat the honey over a low flame till it bubbles. Allow it to thicken considerably and turn a dark caramel, about 5-7 minutes. Almost continually swirl or stir the pan so the honey does not burn. It is a delicate process, and the honey can quickly burn and turn from a delicious caramel to a nasty burnt syrup.

Remove the caramel from the heat and add the water. Be careful; the caramel will spit and hiss when added to water. Add the sugar, saffron and dried ginger. Mix well and return to a very gentle simmer over a low flame, stirring continually to melt the caramel and sugar. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Add the lime juice, yoghurt, and sour cream to the caramel and mix in well. Chill.

Churn in an ice cream maker on the ice cream setting or freeze in the freezer. Add ginger in the last 5 minutes in an ice cream machine, with just enough time to mix it into the ice cream evenly. For the freezer, mix the ice cream every 2 hours, adding the candied ginger at the end and mixing it in well.

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