Pistachio icecream is one of my all time favourites. After drooling over David Lebovitz's version for a long time, I decided to finally try it out, with a few tweaks. David uses pistachio cream made from Sicilian pistachios, however, budget constraints mean that I really cannot afford it. So my pistachios came from an Asian store on 34 Ave in Edmonton, and I think, were from Iran. Normally I am always able to get shelled pistachios, but for some reason most of my usual stores were out of them, so I ended up having to shell a bunch of unsalted ones. Ow, did my fingers ever hurt!! I did do a decent job of shelling them though, and while the paste wasn't the bright green of David's Bronte Crema di Pistacchio, it wasn't too bad either.
The pistachio taste is pretty intense in this recipe, so I toned it down a bit by whisking in some half and half, which, strictly speaking, makes this recipe ice cream, and not gelato. However, the finished product was delicious, and I served it with a drizzle of honey and a few chopped nuts, which really added to the taste.
While making the pistachio paste, I realised that my normal blender would not grind the paste finely, so I used my heavy duty Indian Panasonic Mixer Grinder, which worked perfectly. I also added some rosewater while grinding up the nuts, which I think really enhanced the taste, while offering up a delicate fragrance. Rosewater is normally quite powerful, so a little goes a long way, but here the pistachios are strong enough to hold their own in this case.
For the pistachio paste -
1 cup (250 ml) shelled pistachio nuts
2 - 3 tbsp rosewater
4 - 5 tbsp honey or to taste
1/3 cup warm water
For the ice cream
2 cups whole milk (3.25%) (500 ml)
2 tbsp cornflour/ corn starch
1/2 cup sugar (125 ml)
1/2 cup half and half (125 ml)
In a powerful blender, grind the pistachios, rosewater, honey and warm water to a fairly smooth paste. Transfer to a bowl and pop into the fridge.
Take 1/4 cup milk and whisk in the cornflour till smooth. Heat the remaining milk with the sugar, up to boiling point (do not allow to boil), then whisk in the milk/ cornflour mixture. Heat for another 3 - 4 minutes, stirring constantly, and not allowing the mixture to boil. Take off the heat, allow to cool right down, and then whisk in the half and half. Transfer to a bowl and put into the fridge for at least 2 - 3 hours, until cold.
Mix together the pistachio paste and the milk mixture, refrigerate for a while longer, if possible overnight. Churn the chilled mixture in an icecream maker until done. Serve with a drizzle of honey and a few chopped nuts.