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My Mom’s Iranian American Ice Cream (with photos)

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I’ll admit, this is a bastardized, semi-homemade dessert. But after my mom made some at Thanksgiving, my partner and I have been making it non-stop, and feeding it to all our friends. Everybody has loved it, including chowhound “ramen girl” and avowed rose water haters. It’s called “Akbar Mashti” for historical reasons that I don’t know at all, and is similar to, but simpler than Indian kulfi. And yes, LA-based ‘hounds have easy access to Mashti Malone’s (I am profoundly jealous), but this is how the rest of us make do.

So here goes:

One thing of vanilla ice cream, soft but not melted (I used 1.75 quart Breyer’s French Vanilla)
Saffron
Hot water
2 tsp rose water
Fresh pistachio slivers
Heavy cream

Pour a 1 cm layer of heavy cream +/- orange zest into a container, and freeze. (We use a 4 by 4 inch tray for this). Once frozen, cut into approx 1/2 centimeter squares.

Grind the saffron to a powder in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. My measurements are imprecise and guided by getting things the right color; sorry. Add 1/4 teaspoon saffron powder to 1/4 cup hot water. You want the water to be a deep orange.

In a large mixing bowl, combine a few cups of ice cream, the rose water, the frozen cream chunks and some of the saffron water, stir until the color is uniform. Add more saffron water until the ice cream is sunflower yellow. Add more ice cream, more saffron water; stir. Be careful that your arm doesn’t fall off. You can add more hot water to the saffron powder you’ve got as long as it’s coloring the water; otherwise, you might need more. Plop your melty mix back in the ice cream container, and back in the freezer.

I don’t have an ice cream maker, and have been pleasantly surprised at how well the ice cream retains its texture after melting, mixing and refreezing.

Top with pistachio slivers, and enjoy.

Pictures of my mom’s at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rose_wat...
(Sorry, they’re not great; but the ice cream was!)

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  1. This sounds wonderful. I've never even heard of it before... but I think I'll try it next time I get some rose water. (the ingredient, not you, of course...)

    I make ice cream at least once a week, so I think I'll try it from scratch in my next Saturday batch, since I've got my vanilla down to a science. Here's what I'm thinking...

    4 eggs
    1/2 vanilla bean, scraped, etc.
    1 cup sugar
    2 cups heavy cream
    1 cup whole milk
    pinch of salt
    pinch of guar gum
    *and now for your ingredients
    pinch of saffron
    2 tsp rose water
    orange zest
    Pistachios

    I'll make the creme anglais like usual. In the meantime, bloom the saffron in a few TB hot water. Once the creme anglais comes off, and through the seive, and cools a bit, I'll stir in the saffron, zest and rose water. Cool and churn like usual. Then garnish with pistachios.

    Only question is... I've never used saffron (or rose water) in ice cream. I don't want to lose the delicate flavors, so should I add them when I stated above or wait and add into the last minute or so of churning? probably won't make any difference, but curious.

    Thanks again for posting! Can't wait...

    - Adam

    8 Replies
    1. re: adamclyde

      Does guar gum help the texture ?

      1. re: missclaudy

        this was something I started doing after reading about it here on this site a few months ago. Scott123 talks about it quite a bit.

        anyhow, I probably only use about a 1/8 teaspoon, sprinkled on the cold cream/milk/sugar mixture while whisking thoroughly to prevent clumps.

        It's result is that it - if I understand it correctly - drops the temperature at which ice crystals form, which means, you get a more scoopable ice cream. I was surprised by the result - even frozen in my freezer, which is just under 0 degrees F, it can be scooped quite easily.

        keep in mind that it won't help an ice cream that isn't done well in the first place (I've learned from experience). But if you have a well made ice cream and a custard base that kicks, a tiny amount of guar gum helps the scoopability factor. At first, I was worried it would change the texture in a bad way, but I can't notice any difference at all, except for slightly smoother with a nice the scoop factor.

        Certainly, certainly not necessary to make a great ice cream, but it does help the scoop factor.

        1. re: adamclyde

          Great, scoopability is a problem for me. I made chestnut ice cream , creme Anglaise base, and it was heavenly the first day and lost it's lovliness in the freezer over night. Also, I could not scoop it. Thanks!!!!!

          1. re: missclaudy

            Here's a great thread with some good tips on guar in ice cream. I use very little - even less than recommended - but it still is noticable. I have started to use about 1/4 tsp in ice creams with fruit pulp, since they tend to be icy anyhow.

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      2. re: adamclyde

        Wow, Adam, you're at a much higher ice cream making level than me. I will say that both saffron and rose water are pretty assertive, and can probably handle being added in early. Enjoy! I'd love to hear how yours turns out.

        1. re: rose water

          When food is very cold, flavors are not as strong.

          1. re: missclaudy

            Rosewater is pretty strong. If you add too much it can end up too reminiscent of cold cream.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I made rice pudding tonight, and added saffron and rose water (yes, I'm on a kick). Rose water goes a long long way. It accentuates the sweetness of things, and sugar accentuates the floral flavor and scent. And for those who are not used to it, it may be overly soapy.

              So I'll revise my earlier recipe to suggest using one teaspoon and not two (with missclaudy's caveat that flavors won't be as strong with the cold food). Taste, then add a bit more if you'd like.

      3. I believe Akbar Mashti was the name of a favorite ice cream shop in Tehran... but I'll have to double check.