Pure Pistachio Ice Cream

Pure Pistachio Ice Cream.jpg

“If you like ice cream, why stop at one scoop? Have two, have three. Too much is never enough.” — Morris Lapidus

Childhood memories are funny. Sometimes, there’s a big gap where nothing is remembered; other times, those memories are larger than life. Maybe it’s because as adults, we’ve had years to build things up in our minds, or maybe it’s because everything just seems bigger when you’re a child. I remember taking my kids to see my high school once, and wondering how it shrank so much. 

When I was a kid, before I knew of Abbott’s, there was  McConnell’s dairy. Abbott’s existed, since way back when my grandparents were children, but it was a long drive from our house. I’m guessing that’s why we never went, not until they opened another one closer to us. (I’m still waiting for them to build one here.) We didn’t go out for ice cream often, much to my dismay, but when we did, it was McConnell’s. I don’t remember much about the establishment itself except that it seemed like a very, very long way from the front door to the ice cream counter. Which, of course, probably means it was all of twenty feet. Larger than life, right? But McConnell’s made their own ice cream, and it was so much better than the stuff from the grocery store. No wonder, in my childish eagerness to get some, it seemed like such a long walk! For a long time, pistachio was my favorite, and theirs became the standard to which I’ve held all others ever since. It was smooth with no chunks of nut, and to this day, I prefer it that way. I’ve never found another brand of pistachio ice cream that was as good. 

So of course it was only a matter of time before I tried making my own. Most of the recipes I found use pistachio or almond extract. I guess I can see the logic of pistachio extract, though good luck finding it, but almond just seems like cheating to me. If I want almond ice cream, I’ll make that; don’t put it in my pistachio, please. Time to come up with my own recipe! It took me a few tries, but (if I do say so myself), I nailed it! This is hands down the best pistachio ice cream I’ve ever had, bar none. Not even my childhood memory of McConnell’s stands up to this! That hardly ever happens with childhood food memories. I did cheat a little bit on the nuts by buying them pre-shelled. Since they are lightly salted, I simply omitted the usual ⅛ teaspoon of salt from the base. The straining step is a bit tedious, but worth every minute. Really, the most challenging thing about making this ice cream is sharing! What’s your favorite ice cream?

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Ingredients:

4½ ounces (130 grams, a scant cup) roasted, salted, shelled pistachios 

¾ cup (150 g) sugar, divided

2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk

6 eggs

Preparation:

1.) Make sure to freeze your ice cream maker bowl a day or two ahead of time.

2.) Place the pistachios and ¼ cup (50 g) of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until uniformly ground. Transfer to a medium pot.

 

3.) Mix in the rest of the sugar, along with the cream and milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it just barely to a simmer, cooking only until a thin wisp of steam escapes when you stir. This just takes a few minutes. 

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4.) Remove from heat and allow to steep thirty minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl or pot deep enough that the strainer bottom won’t contact the mixture as it collects. After the steeping time is up, pour the mixture carefully into the strainer.

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The mixture is thick and will strain rather slowly. It helps to scrape the bottom of the cheesecloth frequently. Even then, allow yourself a good half hour for this step.

 

You can speed it along by skipping the cheesecloth if you don’t mind specks in your ice cream. The photo on the left is with cheesecloth, the one on the right is without. 

 

5.) While the mixture strains, wipe any chunks of nuts out of the pan. When it’s done straining, gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and give it a good squeeze to get every last drop. Pour the mixture back into the pan and reheat just to the wisp-of-steam stage. I prefer my ice cream au naturel, but you can add a couple of drops of food coloring here if you like.

 

6.) While it reheats, separate the yolks from the eggs, reserving the whites for another use. Don’t worry about the chalazae (the white ropy bits attached to the yolk.) You’ll strain them out later. Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl.

separating an egg yolk

7.) While constantly whisking, slowly pour about a third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. When you have it well blended, pour it back into the pot with the rest of the cream mixture, again whisking constantly.

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8.) Return the pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170º F or 77º C) on an instant-read thermometer). If you swipe your finger along the spoon, the mixture should be thick enough to not immediately try to run in & fill the gap you made.

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9.) Strain into a clean medium bowl. Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature, uncovered, for about a half-hour. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.)

 

10.) Churn the ice cream mixture in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve now if you like it soft, or pop it in the freezer for a few hours to harden.

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Pure Pistachio Ice Cream

Ingredients

4½ ounces (130 grams, a scant cup) roasted, salted, shelled pistachios

¾ cup (150 g) sugar, divided

2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk

6 eggs

Directions

1.) Make sure to freeze your ice cream maker bowl a day or two ahead of time.

2.) Place the pistachios and ¼ cup (50 g) of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until uniformly ground. Transfer to a medium pot.

3.) Mix in the rest of the sugar, along with the cream and milk. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it just barely to a simmer, cooking only until a thin wisp of steam escapes when you stir. This just takes a few minutes.

4.) Remove from heat and allow to steep thirty minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and place over a bowl or pot deep enough that the strainer bottom won’t contact the mixture as it collects. After the steeping time is up, pour the mixture carefully into the strainer. The mixture is thick and will strain rather slowly. It helps to scrape the bottom of the cheesecloth frequently. Even then, allow yourself a good half hour for this step. You can speed it along by skipping the cheesecloth if you don’t mind specks in your ice cream.

5.) While the mixture strains, wipe any chunks of nuts out of the pan. When it’s done straining, gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and give it a good squeeze to get every last drop. Pour the mixture back into the pan and reheat just to the wisp-of-steam stage. You can add a couple of drops of food coloring here if you like.

6.) While it reheats, separate the yolks from the eggs, reserving the whites for another use. Don’t worry about the chalazae (the white ropy bits attached to the yolk.) You’ll strain them out later. Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl.

7.) While constantly whisking, slowly pour about a third of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. When you have it well blended, pour it back into the pot with the rest of the cream mixture, again whisking constantly.

8.) Return the pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170º F or 77º C) on an instant-read thermometer). If you swipe your finger along the spoon, the mixture should be thick enough to not immediately try to run in & fill the gap you made.

9.) Strain into a clean medium bowl. Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature, uncovered, for about a half-hour. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.)

10.) Churn the ice cream mixture in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve now if you like it soft, or pop it in the freezer for a few hours to harden.

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