I have my cones ready for the ice cream season! Filo pastry is gorgeously versatile and so tasty when layered with butter and sugar, and baked to a golden crunch.
I have a special relationship with ice cream, a bit Lady Chatterley’s Lover kind.
I generally consider myself to have quite sophisticated tastes. I don’t eat junk food and don’t even have many so called ‘guilty pleasures’ unless you count eating lemon curd straight from the jar.
I love fancy fodder, fine dining, foie gras and champagne. Desserts, the swankier the better.
I don’t quite go the distance of my posh Grandma who ate fruit with (a special, fruit) knife and fork but I’m aware of the etiquette.
My table manners are impeccable: elbows off the table, never lick my knife when people are around, and I don’t wipe sauce off the plate with bread unless in France.
The only way to eat ice cream
With ice cream though, it must be a face-on experience for me, meaning it tastes the best when eaten with my mouth. Which means - in case you wondered if I knew some other kinky method of ingesting food - without the help of implements or cutlery. Mouth-on experience, to be precise.
Ice lollies are called so very patronisingly: it’s proper ice cream by all means, on a handy stick. Give me a double raspberry Magnum anytime. Do they still make Splits? Those were awesome.
Cones are essential
Other than a stick, I need a cone. I shake my head in bewilderment on seeing the customers in gelaterias asking for their ice cream in paper cups.
Why would you do that? To freely forgo the marvellous licking experience, the catching of the melty dribble on one side only to load the whole double scoop obscenely into your mouth? No silly plastic sticks for me, thank you. I’ll make like cats do.
That will be also the only occasion I enjoy waffle-type pastry I otherwise rather spurn. Plain cones are my choice and I don’t care for those dipped in chocolate, as the pastry shouldn’t be too sweet.
And so, here’s my own cone production: since I don’t have waffle irons I make do with filo pastry with very good results too.
The beauty of it is that you can sweeten it as much or as little as you like and quadruple or quintuple the layers. Plus – and a big plus it is as well - any failed/broken ones are chef’s bonus as sweet filo pastry shards are one of life’s accidental pleasures.
How to make filo cones?
Filo pastry is wonderful and I’d argue its reputation as awkward to work with is unfair. The common opinion is that it will dry out beyond usability unless you work like in a timelapse or swaddle the pastry with towels at all times.
I find it reasonably forgiving. Of course it will dry if left on the worktop for a while, but there’s no need to rush inordinately. To obtain workable thickness, you need to stack at least four sheets, each thoroughly brushed with butter or oil. The remaining pastry should be lightly covered with a tea towel, but there’s no need for panic.
Cone moulds, usually used for baking cream horn pastry cases, are super useful here. Just make sure they are greased before you wrap the pastry round them, otherwise you’ll struggle to remove baked cones.
I butter the filo pastry lavishly but sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar sparingly, and you can skip the sugar altogether making plain cones, all the better set against good ice cream.
Homemade ice cream recipes
No churn raspberry ripple ice cream, based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe: stupidly easy, and amazingly effective. Two ingredients plus raspberry puree equals ice cream made in ten minutes.
The easiest salted caramel ice cream: three ingredients, no churning. Delicious salted caramel ice cream made with Carnation tinned condensed milk caramel.
The best vanilla ice cream recipe for ice cream maker. No eggs, full fat cream and milk and real vanilla pods are the ingredients of totally luscious vanilla ice cream.
More filo pastry recipes
A Greek twist on Eton mess: fresh blueberries or strawberries, lightly whipped cream and filo pastry shards. You’ll never want the Eton version again!
Filo wrapped asparagus with Parmesan are a crunchy, golden, irresistible vegetarian snack or appetiser. Asparagus filo parcels rolled up like cigars - a must before the asparagus season ends.
Spanakopita, always mispronounced 'spinakopita', is Greek spinach pie wrapped in filo pastry. This spanakopita is an easy recipe for classic Greek spinach and feta cheese pie. Make one large pie and cut it into triangular slices.