chocolate cherry galette with no-churn arak ice cream

chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream

Anise is such a polarizing ingredient, and over the course of my life, I’ve gone from hating it, to enjoying it in small doses, to “give me all the anise!!!” Since I’ve been on a bit of a journey with this particular flavor, I absolutely appreciate that most people prefer some amount between zero and a whisper. So while I’m not going to ask you to start doing shots of arak with me, I am going to let you in on a little secret… it’s absolutely delicious in ice cream in small doses, and it brings out the best in cherries and chocolate. So arak ice cream is just the perfect thing to put on this chocolate cherry galette.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, don’t fret! I don’t either. I used to have one, which was a lovely gift from my mother-in-law many birthdays ago. I got a ton of use out of it over the years, but when we moved to Hong Kong and downsized our apartment, it was one of the tools I just couldn’t justify moving and finding space for (although I have to admit, this article by Pooja Makhijani made me momentarily want to donate my food processor to make room).

So we’ve been sorely lacking homemade ice cream these last couple years, until I started getting into no-churn varieties this summer, inspired by this cherry chip ice cream by Kate Wood from a couple years back, as well as South Asian kulfi (one of my favorites!). I highly recommend trying a no-churn recipe if you’ve always wanted to make ice cream, but don’t have room for another appliance. The key to a really good scoopable one is to add a little bit of booze, and even better when that booze adds just the right flavor. The classic ratio you’ll find all over the internet is 2 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks + 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk + 2-3 tablespoons hard liquor. It never fails!

If you absolutely hate anise and couldn’t imagine enjoying it even in small doses, feel free to forgo the arak, because this galette is delicious all on its own. Simply use a little vanilla extract instead, and add some vodka or kirsch if you’d like. The chocolate crust is another good takeaway from this post. I came up with this recipe after years of trying to find a pie crust recipe chocolatey enough to my liking, and always coming up short. This one almost tastes like brownie corner crust pieces, but more buttery. It would be just as wonderful with a double chocolate cream pie.

chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream

chocolate cherry galette with no-churn arak ice cream

serves 6 to 8
active time: 35 minutes
(start the day before serving)
download a
PDF to print

day 1

no-churn arak ice cream

  • 460g heavy whipping cream (2 cups)

  • 1 395g can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)

  • 45g arak* (3 tablespoons)

    1. Whip the cream to stiff peaks (don’t over-beat it, or it will turn to butter).

    2. In a separate bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and arak.

    3. Fold 1/2 of the sweetened condensed milk mixture into the whipped cream, then carefully fold in the last 1/2.

    4. Pour the mixture in a loaf pan, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and freeze overnight.

chocolate pie dough

  • 180g all purpose flour (1 1/3 cups)

  • 40g cocoa powder (shy 1/2 cup)

  • 50g powdered sugar (shy 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 130g cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks (9 tablespoons)

  • 60g plain cold yogurt (1/4 cup) - not Greek/strained

  • 15g cold water (1 tablespoon)

  1. Place the flour, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times until there are no lumps of butter left. Add the yogurt, and pulse a couple times to combine, then add the water, and pulse a couple more times, until it comes together into a dough (don’t overmix).

  2. Form the dough into a flat disc, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

day 2

cherry galette

  • 330g pitted halved cherries (2 1/4 cups, from about 380g whole)

  • 25g sugar (2 tablespoons)

  • 15g cornstarch (1 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1.5g cocoa powder (1 teaspoon)

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 15g lemon juice (1 tablespoon)

  • cocoa powder for dusting

  • chocolate galette crust (above)

  • chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

  1. Let the dough sit at cool room temperature for about 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) convection, and line a sheet pan with parchment.

  3. Combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice, and let the filling sit while you roll out the crust.

  4. Lightly dust a clean surface with some cocoa powder. Roll out the chilled dough disc into a circle, re-powdering as needed to keep it from sticking. It should be about 1/4-inch thick, and 12 inches across. Careful not to tear it (though the edges might split a tiny bit, which is fine). Transfer to the parchment-lined sheet pan.

  5. Scoop the cherry mixture and juices onto the center of the chocolate crust, and then fold the sides about 2 inches in toward the center, leaving a big gap in the middle (see photos).

  6. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the crust is baked through and the center of the cherry filling is hot and no longer super runny.

  7. Let it cool at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, and then serve with the arak ice cream (and garnish with chocolate shavings if you’d like).

* Arak is a Middle Eastern spirit, flavored with anise. If you can’t find it, you can substitute Greek ouzo. And if you absolutely hate anise, you can substitute kirsch or vodka. If you can’t have alcohol at all, feel free to leave it out altogether. The resulting ice cream will be a little less smooth, and will have some little ice crystals. Oh, and if you can’t find arak but really want to replicate its flavor, you can use vodka and a little pinch of star anise powder or a few drops of anise extract in this recipe. Just make sure you don’t overdo it—it should taste almost like vanilla.

To make ahead: The ice cream and pie dough can be made weeks ahead of time and kept in the freezer. Thaw the pie dough in the refrigerator for a couple days before using. While the ice cream really needs a full 12+ hours to freeze, you can totally make the pie dough the day you plan to bake. The galette itself will keep at room temperature for a day or two, but (like all baked goods) is best kept in the freezer after that to prevent staling.

chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream
chocolate cherry galette with arak ice cream

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s’mores baklava

s’mores baklava

My cousin Heather is getting married next week! I live on the other side of the world and can’t make it to the wedding, so this summer when I was visiting Chicago, I baked some s’mores baklava (/baklawa) and stashed a bunch in my parents’ freezer for the shower. Heather and her fiancé are super outdoorsy and go on so many amazing backpacking trips, and we grew up with our grandmother’s cardamom baklawa, so this felt like a total Heather dessert. Wishing H&C congratulations and a lifetime of beautiful views, good food, and love ❤️

s’mores baklava
s’mores baklava

Before I get to the recipe, a few notes on how I came up with it and why I love it. The thing is, sometimes when you combine features of two foods, you end up losing something along the way, but I didn’t want to settle for anything less than 100% s’mores and 100% baklava, so this recipe doesn’t shy away from the essential features of either. It’s soaked in a toasted marshmallow syrup, filled with crumbled pecans, graham crackers, milk chocolate, and more toasted marshmallow, and topped with all the s’mores things.

s’mores baklava
s’mores baklava

The s’mores of my childhood feature milk chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and honey graham crackers. I’ve never really been a fan of those fancy adaptations with 90% cocoa fleur-de-sel-flecked chocolate and homemade graham crackers. When it comes to s’mores flavors, I only have eyes for classic.

And it might not surprise you that I have a few dealbreakers when it comes to baklava as well. It absolutely must have crisp filo layers, which are soaked in a rich syrup—the syrup has to have just enough water to penetrate every single layer, but not so much that they become soggy. And the syrup must be there not only to sweeten things, but to hold everything together and give it a wonderfully sticky texture. If the syrup is just decorative, if it just sits on top and soaks into the outermost layer, or if it doesn’t have a structural purpose, it’s not really doing its job. And while we’re at it, it has got to have some sort of nut in the filling.

This recipe has the best of both worlds in every bite—those memories of the big plates of cardamom baklawa my grandmother always had on her kitchen counter, as well as the nostalgia of camping trips with my family.

s’mores baklava
s’mores baklava
s’mores baklava
s’mores baklava

s’mores baklava

yield: about 6 dozen pieces, depending on how you slice them
active time: about 40 minutes
total time: about 3 1/2 hours
download a PDF to print

toasted marshmallows

  • 1 10 oz bag mini marshmallows (280g) (it will end up split between the filling, syrup, and topping)

  1. Set the oven to broil.

  2. While you wait on it to heat, set aside a handful of the mini marshmallows for the topping, about 1/2 cup (25g). Place them on a small sheet pan (on top of a towel) and carefully caramelize them with a culinary torch to give them a little char (if you don’t have a culinary torch, you can put them on a skewer and carefully roast them over a gas stove, or simply use them untoasted). Set aside for decorating later.

  3. Line a large sheet pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Spread out the rest of the mini marshmallows into a single layer (almost the entire bag, minus the 1/2 cup for the topping). Place under the broiler and toast until golden brown all over, charred in many spots, and slightly smoking (this might only take 30 seconds, so watch them like a hawk, and move the pan around a bit if your broiler doesn’t toast evenly).

  4. Use a butter knife to score the sheet pan of marshmallows down the center, to remind yourself to divide them in half (half for the syrup, and half for the filling). Let them cool completely before scraping them up.

marshmallow syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400g)

  • 1 1/4 cup water (295g)

  • Pinch salt

  • 1/2 of the tray of broiled marshmallows (above)

  1. Place the sugar in a small saucepan, cover it with the water, and bring to a boil over high heat, gently stirring it occasionally. Once it comes to a full boil, let it go for 3 minutes, then reduce to medium-low, and add 1/2 of the broiled marshmallows (use a greased spatula to scrape them up). Stir until the marshmallow dissolves (you can increase the heat, but do not let it boil over), and remove the syrup from heat as soon as they dissolve.

  2. Set aside while you make the baklava.

the baklava

  • Butter for greasing the pan

  • 2 1/3 cups pecans (200g)

  • 17 honey graham crackers, broken into pieces (240g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5g)

  • 1/2 of the tray of broiled marshmallows (above)

  • 1 heaping cup milk chocolate chunks/chips for the filling (170g)

  • 16 oz filo dough sheets (454g), thawed at room temperature for 4 hours

  • 6.25 ounces hot melted clarified butter (177 grams, or 3/4 cup + 2 T by volume)*

  • toasted marshmallow syrup (above)
    For decorating:

  • 1 cup milk chocolate chunks/chips for the topping (150g)

  • The 1/2 cup of flame-toasted marshmallows (above)

  • 1 graham cracker, crumbled

  1. Set the oven to 350°F/177°C convection**, and grease a rimmed sheet pan.

  2. Place the pecans, graham crackers, and salt in a food processor, and pulse a few times, until they’re coarsely ground. Remove half of the graham/pecan mixture to a mixing bowl.

  3. Add 1/2 of the remaining broiled marshmallows to the food processor with some of the graham/pecan mixture. Run until it’s evenly worked in and no longer clinging to the blade (don’t pulse, just let it run for about 15-30 seconds at a time, so it can fling the gooey marshmallow off the blades and work it in). Add the next 1/2 of the broiled marshmallows, and run to distribute once again. Remove to the mixing bowl and mix everything together with the 1 heaping cup (170g) chocolate chips.

  4. Make sure you have all your ingredients (including the clarified butter) ready before you open the filo dough. Place half of the filo dough on the sheet pan, spread the filling evenly over it, and place the rest of the filo dough on top of the filling.

  5. Cut the baklava into diamonds by slicing straight across in the short direction, then diagonally (see photos in my original baklava post). It's best to work with a very sharp knife. It's alright if a few of the pieces go a little awry, but you want everything to stay pretty lined up.

  6. Slowly and evenly drizzle the hot clarified butter over the sliced baklava.

  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until it has lightly browned.

  8. A few minutes before the baklava is ready to come out of the oven, slightly warm the syrup on the stove so it’s not gloopy when you pour it.

  9. As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, slowly pour the warm marshmallow syrup over the surface, allowing it to sink in a bit as you pour it. If any syrup runs off to the side (if your tray is a little roomy), feel free to slightly tilt the tray and spoon it back over the center (don’t worry if it looks messy).

  10. Let it sit until it comes to room temperature, at least 2 hours.

  11. Temper the 1 cup (150g) chocolate (gradually melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in the microwave, 15-30 seconds at a time, stirring between each zap. Once melted, add the other 1/2 cup, and stir until they melt without microwaving—or microwave 5 seconds at a time if they don’t melt after a couple minutes).

  12. Drizzle the chocolate over the room temperature baklava (with a piping bag or spoon), and decorate with the toasted marshmallows and crumbled graham crackers.

  13. Wait until the chocolate hardens. Cut through the lines you made before baking, and then serve. Store at room temperature for 3 days, or the freezer for longer. It’s even better the next day.

* Clarified butter is really easy to make, and I’ve got a video and recipe here. This amount of clarified butter comes from about 8 ounces / 227 grams sweet cream butter (which is conveniently the amount in my clarified butter recipe).

** If you don’t have convection, no worries—you might need to slightly increase the temperature and/or bake it for slightly longer. If your convection fan is particularly strong, you might want to bake without convection, otherwise the pieces of filo might go flying. I’ve only had this problem baking in commercial kitchens, and most home ovens won’t actually blow things around.

s’mores baklava

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