I have been thinking about this gelato for such a long time, and finally last week, I had the chance to experiment with the yogurt base before adding the molasses. After a couple of tries, I think I got to a really tasty, creamy gelato that highlights the special flavor of the grape molasses. This is a jar of molasses that I received a few months ago from my sister-in-law who lives in Lebanon. It’s thick, mahogany colored goodness, and I’m extra happy to have my hands on the real thing, made by a farmer in the mountains and sold directly via a farmer’s market in Beirut.
I grew up eating this molasses with pita bread and yogurt, especially at my Téta’s house (grandmother). It is still my favorite snack to this day, it satisfies a sweet tooth like no other (for me anyway). Many people also like to mix it with tahini (sesame butter) to make the Mid-Eastern PB&J. It’s also used in Turkey and Greece in pastries, cookies, and for breakfast. Grape molasses goes back to ancient times and was popular as a substitute for sugar when the latter was too expensive. But today, this goodness is dressing up my gelato and I am so excited to share it with you. You will find some version of the grape molasses (Dibs) at your local Mediterranean market and if you’re lucky, a family/friend could pick one up for you from Beirut’s Souk El Tayeb.
Yogurt and Grape Molasses Gelato
1 cup tangy yogurt, preferably homemade
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grape molasses
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp sahlab powder or xantham gum
5 drops lemon oil
Generous pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup raw Brazil nuts or raw cashews ( I tried both and they are both delicious with that gelato)
In a small pot, bring cream and sahlab powder (xantham gum) to a boil, whisking vigorously to incorporate the powder completely. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and keep stirring until the mixture thickens (coats the back of a spoon). Let cool for 5 minutes, then add to yogurt and mix well. Add powdered sugar, grape molasses, salt and lemon oil and whisk together until all blended. Place in the refrigerator for at one hour. Remove, pour in ice cream maker and follow proper instructions. Roast the nuts until golden, let cool before roughly chopping them. Once gelato is ready for freezer, mix in the nuts and freeze.