Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pistachio Ice Cream

Flipping through some cookbooks today, I was reminded of a recipe for pistachio ice cream I've been meaning to try.

We went through an ice cream phase this summer-fall, where every few days the best fruit in the house would wind up as cherry ice cream with dark chocolate, fresh strawberry ice cream, and mint chip, for example. Later this fall it was pumpkin ice cream, cinnamon ice cream, vanilla pecan. Pure heaven.

Somehow with all the New Year's resolution-inspired exercise, we fell off the ice cream train. Well, I want back on, dammit. Will you join me?

Basic Ingredients/Equipment

1 Cup pistachios (roasted, non-salted)
2 Cups half-and-half
2/3 Cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 Cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Double boiler system (I just use a small bowl that fits into a regular sauce pan filled with water)
Bowl of ice water large enough so the small bowl can sit inside it. (keep in freezer until needed)
Ice cream maker (I use a Krups, which costs about $60. Worth every penny)

How To

First, put a pot of water on to boil (for use as a double boiler). This way, by the time you need it the water will be ready.

Now, shell the pistachios.

Especially at this time of year, with Spring so close, the fresh green of a pistachio is a welcome sight, don't you think?

Now, place 2/3 Cups of the pistachios into a food processor or blender.

Process until the nuts are finely ground.

Next, place 2 Cups half-and-half into a small bowl.

Add the ground pistachios.

Now, cook this mixture for 15 minutes using your double boiler.

The water should be barely simmering. This is really important. Don't overheat the water--keep an eye on it and adjust temperature as necessary. The water should be steaming but not bubbling. Stir the mixture often and scrape down the sides.

While that's cooking, prepare the eggs. If you buy your eggs from a back to nature type farm concerned with the hens' "freedom of expression and fullness of life" you may first have to remove a few feathers:

Now, separate the yolks. I assume most people know how to do this, but if not it's very easy. Crack the egg in two over a bowl. Let the whites drip out while keeping the yolk in one of the shells. Transfer the yolk back and forth between the two half shells a few times to allow all of the whites to drain out.

Now, add 2/3 Cup sugar to the yolks and whisk until well blended.

Don't forget to stir the cream/pistachio mixture on the stove. Keep your eye on the water to make sure it's not boiling!

After 15 minutes, whisk in some of the hot cream/pistachio mixture into the eggs (maybe 2/3 Cup). Whisk it quickly to incorporate. The idea is to "temper" the egg, or gently raise its temperature so that you can add it to the rest of the hot cream without it cooking instantly.

Now, add the egg to the cream/pistachio mixture and stir constantly.

When the mixture coats the back of a spoon, it's done (usually a few more minutes).

Once it passes the "spoon test" take the bowl immediately out of the double boiler and plunge into the cold water bath you've prepared. Add the vanilla extract and the heavy cream.

Allow it to cool to room temperature, then cover it with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

While you wait for it to chill, coarsely chop the remaining 1/3 Cup pistachios.

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the chopped nuts. Stir to coat them evenly with the melted butter. Now, add the 2 teaspoons of sugar.

Saute over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar melts and the nuts take on a golden brown color. Remove from heat and let cool.

After 3 hours, freeze the mixture according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

When the ice cream is partially frozen add the sugared nuts.



Melson said...

YUM! I love "Cookin' w/ CC" segments on this blog. I made the persian squash recipe with brown basmati rice and added a dollop of ginger cream (greek yog. w/ grated ginger) for a tasty, fabulous-smelling dinner!

CC said...

Wow, what a great addition. I'll have to try that next time.

A post script to the pistachio recipe. It was good, but I felt it was missing something. My mom mentioned that she thought I was missing almond extract and I immediately realized that she was right. Note for next time...