This recipe is based on my "White-Chocolate Mahlabi with Pistachio, Cardamom, Saffron and Orange-Flower Water." I wanted to channel the soothing yet exotic flavors of a warm, thickened Sachlav (sweet milk drink) I had tasted one cool spring day in Jerusalem. Sachlav and its summer cousin, Mahlabi, milk pudding, are delicious middle-eastern treats that are so lovely and unusual, they beg to be better-known. They have an affinity with cardamom and saffron. I thought a hint of white chocolate--good quality, not overly sweet-- would complement these flavors without overpowering them, while adding creaminess. I started with my mother's recipe for ganache, referring along the way to Claudia Roden's Sutlage-Muhallabeyeh in her Book of Jewish Food, and Carine Goren's Mahlabi in her book, Sweet Secrets. The result was a delicious, tender ganache that would best suit a yellow, pistachio or almond cake or cupcakes. —creamtea
2-1/2 - 3 cups
orange-flower water (more or less, depending on taste)
white chocolate, chopped
chopped toasted pistachios as garnish, if desired.
Pre-heat oven to 200º. Place saffron threads on a small square of doubled aluminum foil and place foil on a rimmed baking sheet or pie tin. Place in warmed oven.
Turn off heat and toast saffron in oven 5 minutes. Remove and cool.
Place saffron and cardamom seeds in the bowl of a mortar and crush lightly with pestle. Set aside.
In heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm cream over low heat, stirring. Bring just to the boil. Stir in spices. Add orange flower water by quarter teaspoons to taste (strength varies by brand), cover loosely and set aside to steep, about 1/2 hour.
Fill bottom of double boiler with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer and attach top. Remove from flame. Place white chocolate in the top of the double boiler and whisk until fully melted and completely smooth. Detach top from bottom vessel. I place it on a folded towel on countertop. Give another good whisk.
Using a fine-mesh strainer that fits snugly into top of double boiler, strain steeped cream into separate bowl, then stir in melted chocolate, stirring gently until thoroughly combined. Cool at least 1 hour.
Use to frost top of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 inch sheet cake or top of a 10 to 12 inch round cake. Garnish with chopped pistachios if desired.