Halvah ice cream--lush, and almost homemade
- Sarah W-R
So, I'm a grad student, so I spend a lot of time procrastinating, which I like to do by improvising in the kitchen.
I was standing at the sink yesterday at 11 in the morning, eating "light" vanilla ice cream out of the carton (I blush, but sometimes the sweet tooth demands satisfaction and we don't have time to prepare real chowish delights), and I was thinking "Gosh, this tastes like nothing."
We had a container of tahini in the fridge from a recent hummus-making. After letting the tahini come to room temperature, I experimented with adding tahini and honey to the ice cream, just mixing it up with a fork in the carton. It took a lot of tahini to really taste it--I would say about a third to half as much tahini as ice cream by volume--and then a good amount of honey to balance the savory-bitter-rich sesame flavor.
Halvah ice cream! It tasted AMAZING. Of course, I was putting back in all the fat and more that had been taken out of the "light" ice cream, so the texture became lush and satiny, like gelato; all the better. It all incorporated beautifully and took on a light caramel color. A sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds over the top made it complete.
Next time, I'm thinking of adding unsalted pistachio nutmeats...or maybe rosewater...and of course doing it with homemade ice cream, not Stop & Shop Light Vanilla.
When I eventually quit grad school and open my Turkish-fusion restaurant, "Uskadar," this will be my signature dessert. :)
You'll find a number of posts on these boards searching for places to find Japanese black sesame (goma) ice cream, which shows up in top-echelon sushi bars but is otherwise quite elusive outside of Japan. Toasted or golden sesame ice cream also exists, but it seems to be even rarer. If you google "sesame ice cream" and "halvah ice cream" a few recipes do come up (it's mentioned as a house specialty at an ice cream parlor in Montreal, a Schrager hotel in Manhattan, and a Greek restaurant in Johannesburg!) , as well as a Puck recipe for "Honey Ice Cream with Almond Nougatine in Sesame Cups" (this last one has disappeared from the wolfgangpuck.com website but can still be viewed via the Google "cache" page, at least for the moment).
I love halvah too, although I am always blown away when I read the nutritional information, because it must be among the densest, most efficient deliverers of calories and fat on the planet--perfect for carrying on a long ride across the desert on a camel, not so great for those of us with a sedentary job spent in front of the computer with occasional "voyages" to Chowhound. Your ice cream just might be a diet dish compared to an equal volume of plain halvah!
My sister worked at an ice cream parlour in Montreal where they made Halvah ice cream - they were always running out because it was so popular, she said people would get really excited about it.