The inventive use of tahini in Israeli cuisine fascinates me. I stayed a few nights at Smadar and Yossi Yardeni’s B+B in Clil, where Smadar finished off the meal with this pleasing balance of sweet, nutty, and frozen sensations. Silan is often called date honey and is a brown syrup extracted from dates. It can be found in Middle Eastern markets, or you can make it yourself following the step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions on blogger Tori Avey’s website.
2 cans coconut cream
1 cup raw tahini
½ cup (or more) silan (date honey)
2 heaping tablespoons muscovado sugar
4 tablespoons water
12 raw cashew nuts, roughly chopped
1) Refrigerate the cans of coconut cream for at least 3 hours or overnight to separate the fat from the liquid.
2) Open cans and scoop out the fat that has risen to the top and place it in a bowl. (Reserve remaining liquid for another use, such as cooking rice or making curries.) Using a hand-held electric mixer or a balloon whisk, beat the coconut cream solids until the mixture reaches the texture of whipped cream.
3) Fold in the tahini and silan. (Taste and add more silan if desired.) Transfer the mixture to silicone molds that have a 3-inch radius or a 6-inch diameter.
4) Freeze until set or overnight. (You can also use similar-size custard cups or a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, but make sure to line them with plastic wrap for easy unmolding.)
1) Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Continue cooking until sugar dissolves, stirring and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming.
2) Reduce heat and simmer without stirring, swirling pan occasionally, until the caramel is golden around the edges, about 8 minutes.
3) Remove from heat and stir in the nuts. Spread thinly and evenly on a silicone mat or a greased baking sheet and cool completely. Snap the brittle into pieces or crumble into small bits.
4) Unmold the semifreddi onto plates. Garnish with the brittle pieces or bits.
Photograph and recipe from “Israel Eats” by Steven Rothfeld, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.