Today’s cocktail is a special one, because I get to work with one of the brightest minds in YouTube’s culinary world, the extremely talented Chef Rudakova. Her channel is full of jaw-dropping molecular gastronomy and fine dining techniques. She challenged me to create a cocktail pairing for her version of a famous dessert, the baklava.
I’ve always enjoyed coming up with small, bite-sized snacks to go with my cocktails, so it was fun to do this the other way around. If you’re not familiar with baklava, it’s a dessert made of filo pastry, filled with chopped nuts, like pistachios or walnuts, and sweetened with syrup or honey. It’s very popular in Turkey, Middle East, Greece and many Slavic countries.
This wasn’t a typical Baklava, so I had to come up with something special too. Coming up with a recipe can take a lot of brainstorming, trial and error, and tasting. You have to find flavors that you’re highlighting, pairing with, or just trying to incorporate, something that’s used, re-used or something that you associate with when thinking about the flavor profile of what you’re making. Then you have to find the right bottles, ingredients and techniques to create something you’re happy with and excited about sharing with friends. This can, and did, take quite a long time.
I came up with the idea of a Clarified Milk Punch Baklava Cocktail, with a well-aged brandy to give the cocktail nice nutty notes with some vanilla and ripe stone fruits. Pedro Ximénez sherry and honey will be great as sweet components; with subtle floral notes of honey and rich full-bodied PX sherry notes of cacao, caramel and dried figs. Lemon Super Juice will balance the sweetness, and acidity is also needed to make milk-clarification possible. To pair it nicely with Natalia’s baklava I’ll garnish the cocktail with molasses caviar inside an isomalt cup and spray it with a vodka jasmine tea perfume.
● 100 g Peeled, unsalted pistachios
● 50 g Feta Cheese Brine
● 250 g water
To make a clarified milk punch we’ll of course need some milk. With food pairings I try to minimize waste by using some ingredients in both recipes - the cocktail and the snack. So I used pistachios and the leftover feta brine, which is what was used in the baklava too. I soaked 100 grams of pistachios in water for 2 hours which makes the peels softer and easier to peel. Nut milk made with peeled pistachios has a nicer color and more flavor. Even if you have peeled pistachios, soak them in water for about 1 hour, to make them softer. Did you know pistachios, which are a member of the cashew family, are often called nuts, but botanically pistachios are seeds. To avoid confusion I’ll still call our product nut milk.
After soaking, draining, peeling, and rinsing the pistachios add them into a blender. In a pot mix 250 grams of water with 50 grams of feta brine and heat it up over medium heat. Don’t bring it to a boil, but the warmer mixture will extract a lot more flavors from the nuts than if you skip this step. Pour in the blender and blend everything until you get a nice paste. Filter that through a cheesecloth (rush it only if you’re making a long and complicated episode and you still have a lot of scenes to shoot) and squeeze out as much of the nut milk as you can - a potato ricer is a great tool for that. These squeezed pistachios can then be dehydrated with a dehydrator (or an oven) and used to make the filling for Chef Rudakova’s Baklava. And that’s our pistachio milk. Even though this is a plant based milk, the feta brine gives it more body and a bit of saltiness. What you won’t use for the milk washing should go in the fridge, use up in a few days.
With that w have all the base ingredients to make our clarified milk punch Baklava cocktail.
● 120 mL (4 oz) Torres 15 Brandy
● 45 mL (1.5 oz) Pedro Ximenez Sherry
● 20 mL honey syrup
● 45 mL (1.5 oz) lemon super juice
● 60 mL (2 oz) pistachio milk
Mix together everything, except pistachio milk, in a mixing glass. This will be enough for 2 cocktails. I use approximately 3 parts honey to 2 parts water, check out my syrups episode to see why. Same goes for the super juice episode - lemon super juice will give it a bit of extra zestiness.
With this mixed, add 60 ml of the pistachio milk into a pot and heat it up. As soon as it starts to simmer, take it off the heat, transfer to a bowl and pour the cocktail mixture over the pistachio milk, not the other way around. This is an important step, since it makes the milk curdle evenly, which may look weird but this is what will clarify our cocktail and give it a nice, silky mouthfeel. Let this curdle in the fridge for 6 hours.
After 6 hours pour the mixture over a coffee filter, checking to see if the first liquid coming through is still cloudy. If that’s the case, pour this part back over the filter once you see our clear cocktail coming through. As this is clarifying, place it back in the fridge so the oils from the pistachios harden enough to get trapped in the filter, otherwise the cocktail will turn milky when chilled with ice, similar to what happens when you chill ouzo. Check back to see when it’s all filtered and your cocktail is ready. In the meantime you can make the garnishes.
Jasmine Tea Perfume:
● 10 g dried jasmine green tea
● 100 mL 50 ABV Vodka
Jasmine tea perfume will give the cocktail additional oriental aromas, pairing nicely with the other flavors. I used a sous vide, because it will give me the best control over temperature and time, and I’m working with a molecular gastronomist here, so nothing can be left to chance. To get the most flavors out of our jasmine tea perfume I mixed 5 grams of dried jasmine green tea and 50 ml of 50% ABV vodka in a sous vide bag. You can up the ABV level with everclear and an online calculator . Vacuum seal the bag and place it in a sous vide bath set to 40 °C, or 105°F for 3 hours. Then all we have to do is cut open the bag, strain the contents through a coffee filter and pour the vodka jasmine tea into a spray bottle.
Unlike for the isomalt discs I used as garnish for the clarified Gimlet cocktail, I’m not heating up the isomalt powder in an oven this, but in a pot. Lightly cover the bottom with isomalt and keep it on low heat until all crystals are completely melted. Then take it off the heat and slowly pour it on a reusable baking sheet and spread it out evenly. As the isomalt starts to cool and get slightly solid, place the baking sheet on top of a bottle, so the isomalt forms a small cup. Once the isomalt hardens completely, slowly and carefully separate it from the sheet. And voilà, isomalt cups.
● 30 g white sugar
● 20 g muscovado sugar
● 80 g water
● 20 g feta brine
● 0,1 g cinnamon
● 3 g orange peels
We’ll fill the isomalt cups with the same garnish used by Natalia on her Baklava - a syrup caviar (but I made mine slightly different) - with many tries, this is what worked the best for me. Add everything to a pot, mix and place on medium heat. Heat it up to melt the sugar while whisking, then let it gently simmer for about 4 minutes.
Take off the heat, strain and weigh how much syrup you ended up with. This is needed so we can add the right amount of agar agar - 1% the weight of the syrup (I ended up with 121 g of syrup so I added 1.21 g of agar). I also waited for the syrup to cool down a bit. Agar agar gelling agent is what will keep our caviar in caviar shape.
Once the syrup has cooled down I’ll add the agar, then place it back on the heat and whisk constantly, until it comes to its simmering point. Take it off the heat and again let it cool a bit. This will make it easier to squeeze out single drops from a squeezer bottle, into a glass of chilled vegetable oil. Then slowly start dropping the mixture into the oil and enjoy the dance of the drops…
Once you have enough, you can strain the oil, or scoop out the caviar, and it's ready.
Making the Cocktail:
Finally let’s build the clarified milk punch Baklava. First make sure you have 2 chilled rocks glasses ready, with tempered clear ice blocks. Then pour 60 ml, or 2 oz, of our clarified cocktail (for each of the cocktails, of course) into the mixing glass. Add ice and stir to chill and dilute. Once nicely chilled, strain into the glasses. Carefully add the isomalt cups and scoop in the caviar and optionally garnish with elderflower, a daisy, or any edible white petal . Spray some jasmine perfume over the top and the Baklava Punch is ready. If you make it, make sure to let me know what you think! And if you’ll share it on instagram, don’t forget to tag me - @kevin_kos
I thoroughly enjoyed this creative collaboration with Chef Rudakova and you really need to check out her recipe for the delicious Baklava (and other crazy recipes she’s made on her channel). To learn more you can also check out her culinary courses on Skillshare and Udemy.
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To make it easier for you to try these recipes you can grab the bottles from my collection at CURIADA