Pistachio Baklava with Cardamom Ice Cream & Honey Roasted Figs

When Daniel (from the Theatre of Wine) told me that the dessert wine he wanted to feature on our wine and food tasting evening was from Georgia I was naturally intrigued. Not only was it a red dessert wine, it was also from a country I had never visited, with a cuisine I was unfamiliar with. The other wines were all regional French and Italian, so I found it relatively easy to create dishes around them. But Georgia was unexpected. I needed to think about both the wine and the region.

After some research I discovered that Georgia has a very rich and proud cuisine with notable Russian and Turkish influences. They have great local produce and their dishes have a real middle eastern flavour, with lots of fresh herbs and spices. It didn’t take long to identify some key ingredients that would work well with a sweet, intense, red wine. Honey, figs, cardamom, walnuts and saffron all leapt out at me. As for the main element of the dish, it had to be a classic middle eastern dessert. It had to be Baklava.

Baklava is essentially layers of buttered filo pastry and chopped walnuts that have been flavoured with orange blossom water and sweetened with honey. In my version I have used pistachios instead of walnuts and added a pinch of saffron to give a little more depth of flavour. I have paired it with some cardamom ice cream and honey roast figs, to add a touch of luxury to what is otherwise quite a rustic dish. The end result was delicious. In fact, I liked it so much I put it on the main restaurant menu.

Pistachio Baklava with Cardamom Ice Cream & Honey Roasted Fig

Pistachio Baklava with Cardamom Ice Cream & Honey Roasted Figs – serves 8

  • Pre-heat oven to 180C
  • Melt 250g of butter.
  • Chop 225g of pistachio & mix with a pinch of saffron, 3 tablespoons of sugar & 1 tablespoon of ground cardamom.
  • Butter an oven dish and line with a buttered piece of filo pastry (brush with melted butter).
  • Repeat until you have 8 sheets of filo as the base.
  • Sprinkle a generous layer of the spiced nut & sugar mix.
  • Lay down 6 more layers of buttered filo.
  • Sprinkle another generous layer of the spiced nut & sugar mix
  • Lay down 6 more layers of buttered filo.
  • Sprinkle another generous layer of the spiced nut & sugar mix.
  • Lay down 6 more layers of buttered filo.
  • Butter the top layer with butter and, using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern into the baklava that runs to the center (this will help the syrup to absorb).
  • Cook for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 150c and cook until golden and cooked through. About 30 minutes.
  • For the syrup heat 350g of caster sugar with 300ml of water and the zest of 1 orange.
  • Boil and reduce by half.
  • Pour over the hot baklava & leave to cool.
  • Cut 8 figs in half, drizzle with honey and roast or grill until starting to soften.
  • Cut the baklava into a squares & serve with the roasted figs and a scoop of (cardamom) ice cream.
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