I’m not the world’s biggest dessert eater, but lately I’ve been thinking about ice cream sundaes whenever I have a craving for sweets, probably because the excessive combination of ice cream, sauce, and crunchy bits is guaranteed to deliver the goods if only in terms of quantity and sugar. During a recent dinner at Alder, I finished my meal with a delicious carrot cake sundae (even though I don’t usually like carrot cake or white chocolate). This reminded me how great a sundae can be when it’s well done, which it rarely is. Indeed, it seems that in most restaurants one always ends up with either cheap or poorly formulated ice cream, Hershey’s-like syrup, or inadequate glassware.
So of course, this means it’s time for me to come up with my own Eastern Bloc version. I already had the plombir ice cream and the apricot sauce to get started, but I needed something crunchy. And chocolate. And more Food-Perestroika-worthy flavors! Baklava seemed like the perfect solution: it’s not something you’d expect in a sundae, it’s made with honey just like my plombir, and like the apricots it can be be found in the Caucasus (where there aren’t enough desserts in my opinion). For the chocolate sauce, I opted for a dark chocolate and black tea combination, on top of whipped cream laced with more honey. Honey, nuts, apricot, chocolate, black tea: the result is sweet, sour, bitter, not too alien yet not totally hackneyed, and quite addictive.
Since I still haven’t worked on my own baklava recipe, I bought some from Anthi’s Greek Food, a small hole-in-the-wall on the Upper West Side that makes rather average entrées but very good baklava (and taramasalata, but that’s a different story). For the black tea, I’m using Kusmi’s smoked “Samovar” blend.
Black tea chocolate sauce
Yields about 6 servings
70 g water
1.8 g black tea
30 g sugar
2.5 g cocoa powder
20 g heavy cream
70 g bittersweet (70%) chocolate, chopped
- Bring the water to a simmer in a small container in a microwave. Add the tea, and let steep for 30 minutes.
- Strain the tea into a small saucepan over low heat, add the sugar and cocoa powder, and heat until the sugar is fully dissolved, stirring constantly.
- Remove from the heat, add the cream and chocolate, and let cool for a couple minutes. Stir and reserve.
Honey whipped cream
Yields about 6 servings
275 g heavy cream
40 g wild flower honey
- Pour the heavy cream and honey into a one liter siphon, close and shake well.
- Add one N2O (“cream”) cartridge, shake again, and refrigerate.
Yields 1 sundae
- Chill a sundae glass in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Cut the baklava into 1 cm squares.
- In a tall sundae glass, add successively: half of the apricot sauce, half of the plombir (i.e., 1 scoop), half of the baklava pieces, then the rest of the plombir, the remaining baklava pieces and the rest of the apricot sauce. Drizzle some chocolate sauce.
- Top with the whipped cream and the remaining black tea chocolate sauce, and decorate with the walnut half. Serve immediately.