On a particularly hot day in Los Angeles, I set out to make the ice cream of
my childhood. The bright saffron, rose-scented, stretchy, and chewy bastani,
with soft bites of frozen cream under tooth and sprinkled with green Iranian
pistachios. Iran’s national ice cream—Bastani-e Gol-o Bolbol—flowers and
nightingales ice cream. In Persian poetry and literature, flowers and
nightingales are symbolic messengers of love and the beloved.
This ice cream is also more commonly known as bastani-e Akbar Mashti,
named after the first man to open an ice cream parlor in Tehran. I have
adapted the ice cream base recipe from Jeni Britton Bauer of Jeni’s Splendid
Ice Creams. The result is a fabulous, silky ice cream base without any
unpleasant ice crystals, which I often have an issue with. The cream cheese is
the trick here to help keep the ice crystals from forming. But the taste of the
cream cheese is hardly detectable, especially when blended with fragrant
saffron and rose water. I encourage all who feel intimidated by homemade ice
cream to give this lovers’ ice creama try.
Back in our Los Angeles kitchen, as the ice cream churned, then five-yearold Soleil exclaimed, apropos of nothing and to no one in particular, “I
wonder who I’m going to marry?” Flowers and nightingales must have
perched on her shoulders, whispering sweet nothings in her ear, spinning tales
of love, saffron, roses, and sweet cream.
MAKES 1 PINT
2 cups whole milk, divided
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1¾ cups heavy cream, divided
⅔ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground saffron, dissolved in 3 tablespoons rose water
3 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
Chopped raw pistachios (optional)
Before starting, set aside a large bowl which you will use for the ice bath
and a medium bowl (that can fit in the larger bowl) for the ice cream
In a small bowl, stir together ¼ cup of the milk and the cornstarch
until well combined. Set the slurry aside. In a medium pot, over
medium-high heat, whisk together the remaining milk, 1¼ cups of the
heavy cream, the sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil. This will take
about 10 minutes. Whisk or stir often so the milk doesn’t boil over or
stick to the bottom of the pot. Don’t go too far. When it comes to a boil,
stir and cook for 4 minutes longer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry, return to
a boil, and cook, stirring, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from
the heat, and stir in the saffron rose water.
Place the cream cheese in the medium bowl you had set aside, pour in
¼ cup of the hot milk mixture, and whisk until smooth. Try to get it as
smooth as possible. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture, until smooth
and no lumps remain. Prepare your ice bath. Fill the large bowl halfway
with cold water and throw in some ice cubes. Place the bowl with the
ice cream base inside the ice bath and let cool until completely chilled.
Alternatively, you can transfer the mixture to the fridge until well
In the meantime, pour a thin layer of the remaining heavy cream
across a smallfreezer-safe tray or plate. Place in the freezer until frozen.
Pour the chilled base into an ice cream maker, and process according
to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the frozen cream, break off
into small pieces, and add it to the ice cream in the final minute of
churning. Transfer the ice cream to a container, place a piece of
parchment directly on top, cover, and freeze until set, about 4 hours.
Take the ice cream out of the freezer 5 minutes before scooping. Top
with pistachios, if desired.
MAKE AHEAD: The ice cream can be prepared up to 3 days in advance.
Bottom of the Pot / Naz Derivian