Several weeks back, Local First Arizona hosted their 4th annual Fall Fest in downtown Phoenix. It was a wonderful day filled with local food vendors and craftspeople from around the valley. My friend Dusty joined me, and together we got to sample lots of great local food and check out plenty of other awesomeness (like some amazing handmade, vegan and organic soap from Strawberry Hedgehog!). One of the food samples that stood out to me was the pistachio gelato from Grateful Spoon. Up until then, the only pistachio ice cream of any type I’d ever had was the passable version from Ben & Jerry’s. Grateful Spoon’s gelato was thick and rich, with none of the overabundance of almond flavoring so often added to pistachio products. It was chock full of little bits of roasted pistachios, so their flavor was front and center. I knew after I tasted it that I wanted to make my own at home!
Now, I know it’s only one week until Christmas, and parts of the country are buried in snow, but I’ll eat ice cream any time of the year. If you’re like me, and you’d happily have a bowlful of your favorite ice cream even as you’re watching the snow fall outside, this is the perfect seasonal ice cream recipe for you! The pistachios give it an all-natural Christmas green color and my favorite garnish of crunchy freeze dried strawberries provides the complementing Christmas red, not to mention that the flavors pair incredibly well. Let’s make some!
roasted pistachio ice cream
(yields about 1 quart; recipe modified from Williams-Sonoma)
3/4 c (125 g) roasted unsalted pistachios
6 T (88 g) plus 1 1/2 c (360 g) whole milk
1 1/2 c (360 g) heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 c (250 g) granulated sugar
pinch kosher salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 c (83 g) roasted unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
First off, throw the 3/4 cups of pistachios into your food processor and process them until they’re finely ground. While the processor is still running, pour in the 6 tablespoons of milk and process the nuts until you end up with a thick pistachio paste. Scrape the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl and process again to make sure it’s all good and smooth. Scrape it into a bowl and set it aside while you begin the custard for the ice cream!
In a medium sauce pan, pour the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk and the heavy cream. On medium-high, heat the milk and cream until hot, and little bubbles are just forming around the edge of the pan. Remove the pot from the heat, but be careful as it heats because it likes to boil over very quickly!
In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, sugar and salt until pale and fluffy, for 2 minutes on speed 5 (medium). Remove the bowl from the mixer and pour in a little of the hot milk mixture at a time, whisking to combine. Once it’s all in there, pour it all back into the sauce pan and cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until a thin custard forms. It took about 15 minutes on my stove top.
Strain the custard into a medium bowl and whisk in the pistachio paste you made earlier. Let the custard chill completely, either in the fridge covered with plastic overnight, or over an ice bath, whisking occasionally. I went the ice bath route cause I was impatient for tasty ice cream! It took about an hour, plus a short stint in the fridge, to cool completely.
Once your custard is fully cool, pour into your preferred ice cream maker and churn away! When the ice cream is about as frozen as it’ll get, dump in your half cup of chopped pistachios while the ice cream churns, and let it continue to churn until they’re fully mixed in. Scoop your frozen ice cream into individual paper pint containers or one large container, and freeze until totally solid.
I don’t think I could have come up with a better-tasting version of this pistachio ice cream. It’s exactly what I was looking for when I sought out to recreate Grateful Spoon’s gelato, full of chopped pistachios and their buttery flavor. The small amount of almond extract just serves to highlight the pistachios, and doesn’t overwhelm in the slightest. As I mentioned before, this ice cream is delicious when topped with a sprinkling of crushed freeze dried strawberries!
Your ice cream will keep for a few weeks in the freezer. I doubt mine will last so long!