• by XpatAthens
  • Friday, 20 February 2015
Kaimaki Ice Cream

In Greece we call this type of ice cream “kaimaki” and it very typical of 1960s style confectionery shops selling baklava and kataifi as well as other types of-usually syrupy- sweets, but the recipe is based on Diana Abu-Jaber’s book The Language of Baklava, which was the previous Cook the Books pick. It is very often served in silver-style bowls and I remember eating it after big meals with the family over ekmek kataifi or with ravani. I always thought that it tasted of the mastic, but Diana’s recipe revealed another very interesting ingredient: sahlep (we call it salepi in Greek).

Sahlep comes from the root of an orchid and apart from its interesting taste, it is also a very strong thickening agent, so very little goes a long way (which is fortunate as it costs 98 euro per kilo!). The most interesting attribute of sahlep, however, is that it gives the ice cream an interesting elasticity, typical of kaimaki.
This recipe is perfect for those avoiding egg-based ice cream and it will keep in the freezer for longer. Serve it on its own with sour cherry syrup called vissinada (another traditional Greek combination) and some pistachios.

KAIMAKI ice cream

• 1tsp salepi (sahlab) or 1tbsp corn starch
• 2 cups milk
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 1/4 tsp mastic powder
• chopped pistachios for decoration


1. Dilute salepi in 1tbsp cold milk.
2. Bring milk, cream and sugar to boil, add salep (I used immersion blender because it wouldn’t dilute). Stir in mastic and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add the slice of orange rind and remove from heat. Let it cool and place in the fridge. Churn in an ice cream machine.
4. Keep in the freezer until needed.