Tahini and Silan "Ice Cream" (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Tahini and Silan "Ice Cream" (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Tahini, silan and dates star in these frozen desserts

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Tahini and dates give two summer frozen treats a Middle Eastern twist.

Tahini and Silan “Ice Cream” is a vegan frozen dessert flavored with earthy sesame seed paste and sweet-tart silan (aka date syrup, date honey or date molasses). It makes a not-too-sweet parve scoop perfect by itself or as part of a sundae drizzled with date, caramel or chocolate syrup and garnished with nondairy topping and chopped dates and nuts.

The Tahini-Banana-Date Shake is a riff on the date shakes I enjoy on desert road trips. Make it vegan and parve with almond milk and nondairy ice cream, or slurp up a dairy version with regular milk and ice cream. Try garnishing it with a swirl of whipped topping or cream, finely chopped dates and a drizzle of silan or other syrup.

I serve both desserts with Coconut Whipped Topping (see below).

Tahini and silan are available in some supermarkets and in specialty, Middle Eastern and kosher markets as well as online.

Tahini and Silan “Ice Cream”

Serves 6

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups unflavored, unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup tahini
  • ¾ cup silan (date syrup)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • Granulated sugar, as needed

Sift confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch together (or use spoon to push through strainer) to make sure there are no lumps. Set aside.

Pour almond milk into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until milk simmers. Slowly whisk in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Whisk continuously until well incorporated, without lumps. Keep almond milk at a simmer, and whisk often for 20-25 minutes until reduced by about half (1½ cups). Stir in tahini, silan, lemon juice and salt. Taste and add granulated sugar until the base is slightly sweeter than you might like, as freezing will tone down the sweetness. Transfer to airtight container. Refrigerate about 4 hours, until chilled, or overnight.

Churn cold mixture in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer directions. Churn about 20-30 minutes until the dessert is not getting any thicker. (It will still be very soft.) Transfer to freezer container, and freeze at least 2 hours before serving. Can be made up to 5 days in advance.

Variation: Substitute ½ cup honey or agave syrup if silan is not available and increase lemon juice to ¼ cup.

Coconut Whipped Topping: Refrigerate a can of coconut cream (the kind for cooking, not cocktails) overnight. Place solids in bowl. Beat on high with electric mixer until peaks form. Sweeten with confectioners’ sugar to taste. Or purchase a coconut whipped topping in ready-to-use aerosol cans from specialty or natural foods grocers.

RELATED: Kebabs turn paprikash into a perfect grilled summer entree

Tahini-Banana-Date Shake

Serves 2

  • ¾ cup milk or unflavored, unsweetened almond milk, plus more as needed
  • 6 large dates, pitted and chopped
  • 6 Tbs. tahini
  • 2 medium bananas, peeled and frozen (see notes)
  • ½ cup ice cubes
  • 1½ cups vanilla dairy or nondairy ice cream

Put milk, dates and tahini in blender jar. Process on high until well combined and the date pieces are very small. Stop blender to scrape down sides and stir as needed.

Cut bananas in 1-inch pieces. Place in blender jar with ice cubes. Blend on high until incorporated, stopping blender to scrape down sides and stir as needed. Add milk by the tablespoon as needed for a smooth texture.

Add ice cream. Blend on high, stopping blending and scraping and stirring as needed. Blend until smooth.

Serve immediately in large chilled glasses.

Notes: A medium banana is 7-8 inches long. Peel bananas and freeze in plastic wrap for 2-3 hours or until frozen solid. Can be frozen up to several months in advance.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].