I’m going to New York today!
I’m so excited, because last year when I went I hadn’t been since 2009 and now I’m going for the second time this year! My NYC friends are going to get so sick of me.
Officially, I’m going for a work conference but first I’ll be spending the weekend with friends and doing my usual food tourism. I have a veggie burger crawl planned and pie plans and cake plans and candy plans and now also plans to forget that I’m going to be spending time on a beach next month.
Good thing it’s a veggie burger crawl.
After the weekend I’ll be staying in a hotel very very close to one of my favorite NYC restaurants, Russ & Daughters Cafe, close enough that I could potentially have smoked salmon and bagels and latkes and babka french toast every day for breakfast if I wanted to, but again, there’s that looming beach trip and also, they don’t open until 10 am so the universe is apparently looking out for my health even if I’m not.
In my two previous visits to this place, I’ve gone for brunch, where I’ve stuffed myself with the above mentioned treats, leaving no room for their halvah ice cream. On my first visit this was fine with me but on my last visit was cause for real despair, what with my current obsession with everything tahini related. It turns out they don’t have a to-go option for it either, so you really have to want it in the moment. I sadly had to pass, since it’s a little bit harder to ignore the waistband of your skinny jeans digging into your full stomach while sitting down than it is while out “walking off” brunch (which surely explains the donuts I bought and ate not 10 minutes later).
But this trip, I have no excuse, right? I’ll be so close, surely a post-conference or post-dinner trip for ice cream will be manageable. But just in case I find my dreams foiled again, I made a homemade version to tide myself over. I mean it actually just backfired because the homemade version was so good I only wanted to try the other version more, so whatever, but I did get my fix in the moment.
For my version, I used a recipe for tahini ice cream by Yotam Ottolenghi, which should tell you all you need to know about it’s deliciousness, and I even made my own halvah(!) using a recipe from Zahav. I had real issues with my candy thermometer but the halvah still turned out tasty enough that I found myself sneaking so many bites of it that the leftovers are now living in my freezer. If halvah sounds like a weird thing to put in ice cream, well, just remember that it’s basically just sugar and tahini, and tahini is just a nut butter made instead with sesame seeds, and no one ever questions putting peanut butter in their ice cream*.
*Well, me. I did. For a long time I questioned putting peanut butter in ice cream. Obviously I’m over that.
But most people are fine with it and you should be fine with tahini too, because it adds this nutty essence to the sweet, creamy ice cream and the bits of halvah are almost like sweet nuggets of a nuttier tasting cookie dough, and they both combine into a really spectacular ice cream. I left mine plain to really enjoy the tahini flavor, but I’m sure it would be wonderful with chocolate, or with caramel as they serve it at Russ & Daughters Cafe. I’m definitely going to need to find out.
Halvah Ice Cream
Adapted from Ottolenghi. Note that the ice cream recipe is in metric measurements, which is not a problem as most measuring cups have ml markings and you DO have a kitchen scale, right? Well if you don't, I've converted as best I could, but grams don't exactly convert to cups in a seamless way. But the measurements for the ice cream base are really what are important, so don't worry about this too much.
- 250 ml (about 1 cup) heavy cream
- 350 ml (about 1 1/2 cup) whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 egg yolks
- 40 grams sugar (about 1/8 cup plus 1/2 Tbs)
- 30 grams tahini (about 1/8 cup)
- 100 grams (about 1/2-3/4 cup) halvah, diced small (you can use this recipe or store-bought)
- Heat the cream, milk, and vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan until just coming to a boil then remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
- Slowly ladle in the hot milk mixture, a little bit at a time, into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This will temper the yolks and prevent them from curdling. Continue until all of the cream is whisked into the eggs, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
- Heat the saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly, until the mixture is thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the tahini.
- Cool ice cream mixture and then chill completely, then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Spoon frozen mixture into whatever container you plan to freeze it in, and stir in the halvah pieces. Freeze until firm, then serve as desired.