Baklava is a decadent pastry characterized by crispy layers of filo dough on top of gooey sweet honey and nuts, usually highlighting the pistachio. It originated in Istanbul, and I usually find it as a dessert option in Mediterranean restaurants after polishing off a tasty falafel wrap or chicken schwarma. I’ll never forget the first time I had baklava. I was at a Philz Coffee shop in 2009 shortly after moving to San Francisco and wanted a classic scone or cookie to go with my joe, but the only option was this puffy tan square that I had never seen before. From my first bite in I was taken aback by the flaky layers and caramelized richness of the nuts, and for the last eight years I’ve tried many varieties and enjoyed almost all of them. As much as I dig the dessert, I’ve never had it in frozen form, and leave it to Little G to pop my flavor cherry with an inventive and indulgent take on something I already know and love. It seemed only right that my first flavor to dive into from the 2017 Summer Favorite’s pack is Bangin’ Baklava, which combines honey ice cream with baklava chunks, candied walnuts, roasted pistachios, and a honey caramel swirl. Yikes!
Honey ice creams are extremely underutilized, and when executed well are one of my favorite bases for a delicious scoop. No surprise here, Little G absolutely killed it with the honey base and the ice cream has a rich, golden sweet flavor that blends seamlessly with the high quality dairy for a big, luscious, true-to-the-bee flavor that leaves a lasting honey presence in my mouth buzzing with perfection. The honey notes aren’t subtle at all, but they aren’t cloying either – they’re dialed in and balanced with sugary sweet finesse that sings with success. My only concern is that there may be too much honey in the base, as it melts and breaks down really quickly, losing its ice cream character in the blink of an eye.
The pieces of baklava are impressive, and the filo dough has maintained all of its delightful crunchiness. Even submerged in a pint of cream the pastry crunches and I can feel the layers just like the first time I bit into the Mediterranean treat. The honeyed nuts on the inside of the dough accentuate the flavor of the base with a wonderful chewiness and the experience is a creamified version of eating baklava to a T. In classic Little G fashion the chunks are actually chunks and are sizable enough that I get all the elements I want from baklava spoonful after spoonful.
The nuts are also super on point. The roasted pistachios are abundant enough that they add a bit of fatty, slightly savory relief from the generally sweet profile, but not so much that they take over entire bites like in last season’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut MdoughW. I wish they were a touch more salted (or salted at all?) to add some more contrast, but that’s honestly just a nitpick-y preference and not a deal breaker in any way. The candied walnuts are also fantastic, I didn’t get very many in my pint, but when I did they were entire nuts perfectly caramelized and sweet with a sugary flavor that reminded me of Christmas. Even though I love the indulgence of getting whole nuts, it could have been more effective to cut them in half if each container is only going to get 3-4 so they come through more consistently.
This was the most aggressively tempered shipment I’ve gotten from Little G to date, and even after popping my order back into the freezer for awhile the pints were still pretty soft, and a lot of the honey caramel was integrated into the base, but pooled nicely at the bottom. When I was able to isolate it it was everything that it set out to be – slightly dark, rich caramel with some interesting, pleasantly astringent honey notes that set it apart from any other caramel I’ve had before. While it doesn’t stand out as much as a traditional caramel against vanilla or chocolate, it ties the baklava experience together with a lovely golden gooey ribbon further making this a fantastic, albeit a bit soft, ice cream-ed version of the traditional treat it aims to emulate.
Found at: http://www.goldbely.com (use code seanpancake0 for $25 off of your first order!)