Before my recent move back to my hometown, I used to live just down the street from this lovely, little Lebanese joint that I frequented a few times a week. Whether I was getting a lamb shawarma or baba ghanoush, I always added on a flaky square of baklava to my order. That traditional Mediterranean pastry containing thin sheets of phyllo 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 creative ice creams these days, it’s hard to run across a concept that hasn’t been tried before, but on a recent visit to Kroger, I noticed they offered a Sweet Honey Baklava Ice Cream as part of their Private Selection premium lineup.
Although I’m typically against generic ice creams because of the lackluster taste and seemingly poor quality ingredients, the promise of baklava beckoned me to press onwards. At 220 calories per serving, this was a little heavier than most premium options, but still lighter than some of the super-premium pints. After tearing off the plastic top, I catch my first view of pieces of baklava, walnut and honey sauce folded into honey ice cream. The honey base looks pretty plain, but I’m hoping there’s some serious flavor hiding inside. The small pieces of baklava poking through the top had me ready to dig in.
The consistency of the all-white ice cream was slow to melt, however had plenty of overrun to give it a fluffy feel. As far as taste was concerned, the base was mild for the most part and tasted more like a honey-infused sweet cream instead. Although the base wasn’t bad my any means, the flavoring could have certainly been improved upon. Before long, I began to run into the squares of baklava strewn about. Some of the pieces were soft and chewy, while others were crunchy. It reminded me of how some baked goods tend to have crunchy corners that are in direct contact with the outer pan walls and the center remains chewy and slightly uncooked. They were plentiful and tasted of cinnamon, honey and sugar, but balked on tasting like authentic baklava.
The honey and walnut whirlpool of sauce had been nearly nonexistent through the first half of the pint. Luckily, they came on strong during the second half. 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 evident, but Private Selection still missed their mark for the most part. 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 preserving that attempted texture.
Where I Found It: Kroger