SERVES – 4
PREPARATION – 30 MINS
COOKING – 30 MINS
SKILL LEVEL – MID
175 g unsalted butter
110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
3 golden delicious apples, cored and cut into wedges
100 g blanched almonds, lightly roasted and coarsely chopped
100 g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
8 sheets filo pastry
Date and ras el hanout ice-cream
175 g caster sugar
12 fresh dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
8 egg yolks
1 litre thickened cream
2 tbsp ras el hanout (see note)
660 ml milk
1 bunch mint, leaves picked, and a few reserved for serving
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthways and seeds scraped
30 g (¼ cup) cornflour
65 g (⅓ cup) fine semolina
150 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
few drops mint essence
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Freezing time 3 hours
To make the ice cream, place the sugar and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the dates, then remove from the heat. Using a stick blender, puree the date mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks until thick and pale. Fold in the date puree. Whisk the cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks form, then fold in the date mixture with the ras al hanout. Pour into a container and freeze for 2-3 hours or until firm. Allow to soften slightly before serving.
Meanwhile, to make the mint crème, place the milk in a saucepan over low heat. When hot, add the mint leaves, remove from the heat and stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse. Strain the milk and discard the leaves, then return the milk to the pan and add all the remaining ingredients. Whisk until well combined, then stir over low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until thick and you can no longer feel any grains in the custard. Transfer to a bowl, cover closely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
Melt 50 g butter in a medium frying pan over low heat. Sprinkle over the sugar, then add the apples and cook, turning occasionally for 3-4 minutes or until just soft but not falling apart. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
To assemble the b’stilla, preheat the oven to 200°C. Combine the almonds, icing sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Melt the remaining butter in saucepan, then set aside.
Working with one sheet of filo at a time and keeping the others covered to prevent them drying out, brush one sheet with melted butter, then sprinkle lightly with some of the almond mixture and top with another sheet of filo pastry. Using a 9 cm round cutter, cut out 8 circles.
Place a lightly greased 9 cm ring mould or ramekin on a baking paper-lined baking tray. Place one filo circle in the bottom of the mould, brush with melted butter and sprinkle over a little almond mixture. Overlap the remaining 4 circles around the edge in a petal pattern, to cover the sides of the mould with the sides overhanging. Lightly brush all over with butter. Place another circle of filo on the base to hold them in position. Place one quarter of the apples into the mould, then add a large spoonful of cooled mint cream or enough to cover the apples well. Place another round of filo on top, brush with butter and sprinkle with almond mix. Fold over the pastry petals neatly. Brush with butter and sprinkle with a little more almond mix, then top with the last filo circle and brush again with melted butter. Repeat with the remaining filo, almond mixture, butter and apple. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is brown and crisp. Remove from oven and remove ring mould, then invert onto serving plates. Dust with extra icing sugar and serve with a spoonful of the ice-cream and the reserved mint leaves.
Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend that can contain up to 100 different spices. While the blend varies enormously depending on the maker and the spices available, it usually includes cardamom, cayenne, aniseed, nutmeg, mace, ginger and saffron to name a few. When adding to the ice cream base, stir in half the ras el hanout and check the flavour before adding the rest as it can also vary in potency depending on the freshness of the spices used.
It is important to prevent the filo pastry from drying out. Keep it covered with a clean cloth until you need it. Brush with plenty of melted butter to keep it pliable.