Before my most recent move, I used to live down the street from a lovely, little Lebanese joint that I frequented a few times a week. Whether I was getting a lamb shawarma or baba ghanouj I always secured a flaky square of baklava before heading home. That traditional Mediterranean pastry containing thin sheets of fillo dough, generous portions of walnuts, drizzled with sweet syrup and butter, then baked until flaky and golden brown won me over from the beginning.
With so many companies churning out ice cream these days, it's hard to run across a flavor that hasn't been manufactured by at least one of the major corporations. On a recent road trip I came across a Kroger that had their Private Selection lineup in pint-sized portions. I had read some rave reviews about some of their offerings, but I had to put the tendencies of my inner ice cream snob aside as I reached for this and headed towards the checkout. The promise of baklava beckoned me to press onwards. Lacking any protective plastic or seal, the top tore off with ease.
The honey ice cream looked pretty plain at first glance. Only tiny bits of the baklava pieces bled through to the top. I expected a darker shade similar to actual honey, but encountered this instead. The calories, as well as the consistency, were on par with other premium ice creams as I scooped up my first bite. The honey base was interesting. It was mild, but pulled off the pleasantly sweet characteristics of the sticky substance rather well.
The baklava pieces were also interesting. Some of the pieces were super-soft and chewy, while others were crunchy. It reminded me of how some baked goods have crunchy corners that are in direct contact with the outer pan walls, while the center remains chewy and slightly uncooked. They were plentiful and tasted of cinnamon, honey and sugar, but surprisingly balked on tasting like baklava.
The honey and walnut whirlpool of sauce slightly showed itself through the first half of the pint, however, it came on strong during the second half. It was strangely similar to the cinnamon streusel swirl found in Ben & Jerry's Cinnamon Buns, but clearly a poor man's version. The swirl sported an intense sweetness, as well as a slight crunchy texture that was attributed to the flakes of walnuts flowing throughout. When all three ingredients are scooped in the same spoon, slight hints of actual baklava are detected, but Private Selection certainly missed their mark overall.
I was initially blinded by the idea of baklava ice cream and kept talking myself into giving this honey-heartbreaker a higher ranking than it deserved. Although Kroger is worthy of kudos for their attempt, this just didn't pan out. Attempting to recreate a flaky fare in frozen form is a tough task, but being enveloped in ice cream is certainly counterproductive in perserving that attempted texture.
Where I Found It: Kroger