Rose of Damascus

"This is from "Saha" by Greg & Lucy Malouf, this dessert a modern twist of Syrian origin. Posted for ZWT 6. Dried rose petals can be found at health food stores or herbal tea stores. The recipe may seem detailed, but the ice cream can be made days ahead."
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  • To make the ice cream, put the milk and cream in a large, heavy-based pan and heat gently. Meanwhile, put the sugar and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl and whisk by hand until thick and pale. Pour on the hot cream and whisk in quickly.
  • Tip the custard mix back into the pan and heat gently until it thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat immediately and cool in a sink of iced water. Stir to help it cool down quickly.
  • When cool, stir in the rosewater and enough food colouring to tint it a pale pink.
  • Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream machine and churn, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until nearly set.
  • Line a 2 cm deep baking tray with plastic wrap. Tip the ice cream into the tray and smooth the surface. Transfer to the freezer until ready to assemble the dessert.
  • To prepare the filo pastry flowers, preheat the oven to 160°C Line and butter 2 baking trays, each about 25 cm x 30 cm.
  • Lay a sheet of filo on your work surface and brush liberally with clarified butter and dust with icing sugar. Repeat with 2 more layers, drizzling a little warm honey on the third sheet of filo.
  • Continue stacking and brushing with 2 further layers of pastry. On the top (5th) layer, brush with butter, but do not sprinkle on icing sugar.
  • Repeat this process with the remaining 5 sheets of filo pastry. You should now have 2 stacks of filo pastry, each comprising 5 pastry layers.
  • Use an 8 cm flower-shaped pastry cutter to cut 12 flowers from each pastry stack – 24 in total.
  • Carefully transfer the pastry ‘flowers’ to the prepared baking trays and lay a sheet of baking parchment on top of each tray. Weight down lightly with another tray, which will keep the flowers flat as they cook. Bake for 8–10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  • To prepare the toffeed strawberries, preheat the grill to its highest temperature.
  • Hull the strawberries and cut them in half. Dust them all over with caster sugar then place them under the grill until the sugar caramelises, turning once. Alternatively, use a blow torch.
  • When ready to assemble, remove the ice cream from the freezer. Turn the block out onto a chopping board and peel away the plastic wrap. Use the 8 cm flower-shaped pastry cutter to cut out 12 flowers of ice cream.
  • Place a pastry flower on each plate and top with a flower of ice cream. Add another pastry flower and ice cream flower, and finish with a top layer of pastry. Dust each Rose of Damascus with icing sugar and serve with the toffeed strawberies, and sprinkle with diced Turkish delight and dried rose petals if you’re feeling particularly exotic.

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Recently relocated to Queensland, warmer seas for sailing and fishing. Aside from cooking for my family I do cake decorating (mainly wedding cakes) and recently unusual jams - adding spices and herb - and preserves and cheese making
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