I have quite the obsession with pistachio ice cream and gelato. It is a flavour I would have turned by nose up at as a child, but now the prospect of having a decent pistachio ice cream fills me with joy.
My obsession started earlier this year, with a cafe in my local Westfield serving a pistachio thickshake made with pistachio gelato. It was utter heaven, and I ordered it a few times over those hot Summer months (to the point the waiters at the cafe began to recognise me and my standard order). Then a few months ago, the cafe changed their menu and the pistachio thickshake was long gone.
I tried a couple of bought tubs of pistachio gelato, and while they were ok, they weren’t exactly what I was looking for.
I began to research recipes in order to make some at home myself. It became a lot easier when I found a recipe for homemade pistachio paste, as most recipes for pistachio ice cream or gelato use it, however I have never been able to find it here in Sydney.
I first tried adding some homemade pistachio paste to my much used easy egg free ice cream recipe. While the flavour was good, the texture was far too firm and it froze like a solid log of ice cream.
The next recipe I tried as another egg free one from the blog Top With Cinnamon by Izy Hossack. I really liked this recipe, as the flavour was really good and the texture much less icy and solid like my initial attempt. The recipe also made quite a lot of ice cream which I definitely liked. My only issue was it took a really long time to churn in the ice cream maker. The ice cream base was quite thin, and there being so much of it, it did feel like it wasn’t ever going to work!
I had another recipe up my sleeve to try, which I found in the same book I found the pistachio paste recipe, À La Mère de Famille - Artisanal Recipes by Julien Merceron (too read my Off The Shelf post on this book click here). This book has been a wealth of information on making confectionary and the like, and it seems to have those hard to find recipes I have been looking for. I’m not sure if things have been lost in translation in this cookbook, but the instructions for each recipe are quite scant and I often find myself having to improvise or just guess what sized tin I need for something.
Nevertheless the recipes from À La Mère de Famille have been super useful, and instrumental in me finding a great make at home pistachio ice cream! I have ever so slightly adapted their recipe for Pistachio Ice Cream Popsicles below, and used my version of their Pistachio Paste to flavour the ice cream. While I am very happy with the end result, I somehow doubt my obsession with making pistachio ice cream is over. I am now on the hunt for a good pistachio gelato recipe (notably after having a really good one at Piccolina Gelateria in Melbourne a couple of weeks ago!).
How to Make Pistachio Paste
250g raw or blanched pistachios
100g white sugar
60ml (4tbsp) pistachio oil
Pre heat oven to 160 degrees Celsius, and place the pistachios on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Once done set aside to cool a little.
Place the sugar and water into a small/medium saucepan and heat until it reaches 120 degrees on a sugar thermometer. Whilst the sugar syrup is heating, place the roasted pistachios on the bowl of a food processor and blitz until they form a fine crumb.
Once the sugar syrup has reached 120 degrees Celsius, gradually pour into the food processor whilst it is running. Gradually add the pistachio oil, and continue to process until a smooth paste forms. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl at regular intervals if necessary. The finished product will be a smooth paste, similar to a nut butter. When the paste initially combines it will form a smooth ball, continue processing until a more paste like consistency is reached.
Once a smooth paste has formed, decant into plastic containers or glass jars and store in the fridge until needed. It should last about 1 month refrigerated. If the oils in the paste separate a little during storage, mix the paste briefly before using.
Makes about 390g.
Pistachio Ice Cream
50ml pouring cream
140g caster sugar
20g mild flavoured honey
3 egg yolks
100g pistachio paste (see above)
Heat the milk in a medium saucepan over low/medium heat until it reaches 40 degrees celsius on a candy thermometer.
Whisk in the cornflour, cream, sugar, honey, egg yolks and pistachio paste. Continue to whisk until all the ingredients are well combined, then use a wooden spoon or a spatula to stir for the remainder of the time. Continue to gently stir the mixture until it reaches 83 degrees celsius in a candy thermometer. The mixture will thicken up, most noticeably as it gets closer to the 80 degree mark.
The mixture now needs to be strained (to remove any lumps etc) and then blended in a blender or food processor. If your sieve can comfortably fit over your food processor, strain the mixture straight into the food processor. If not strain into a medium/large bowl and then transfer to your food processor or blender.
Whizz the ice cream base in the food processor/blender for one minute, then transfer to a container (at least 1L capacity). Place in the fridge to cool.
Once the ice cream base has had some time to chill in the fridge, it can be transferred to the bowl of an ice cream maker to churn (according to your machine’s instructions). I found it took only a few minutes, and the ice cream will be ready once it has firmed up a bit and is clinging to the paddle of the ice cream maker.
Transfer the ice cream into a container to freeze (you can use the same one as before), and allow to freeze for a few hours before serving. If the ice cream has been frozen for some hours, allow the ice cream to sit out of the freezer for a few minutes before serving.
Makes a little under 1L of ice cream.
References: ‘À La Mère de Famille’ by Julien Merceron (Hardie Grant Books, 2013), p.160 & p.250.