Saturday, July 5, 2008

Pistachios in Your Ice Cream

Ah, on to my third favorite flavor of ice cream (after coffee then cinnamon): pistachio. You know, Williams-Sonoma's recipes are swiftly becoming a safe bet; every one I've tried has come out really well. This was no exception. Creamy but not too sweet; a terrific balance of nutty pistachios and sweet cream!

Now that I've covered my absolute favs with success, I'm going to move on to more challenging flavors (banana, peanut butter?). The good news to all this ice cream making is, I'm getting pretty decent at getting a custard together. Practice really builds the confidence, you know? So much so, I think I'm ready to tackle more experimental flavors like... bacon. (I KNOW, RIGHT? Madness! Wish me luck...)

Source: Williams-Sonoma

1 cup unsalted whole pistachios, roughly chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Arrange the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake, shaking the pan occasionally, until the nuts are lightly golden and toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

In a mini-food processor or standard-size food processor, combine 1/2 cup of the pistachios with the sugar and process until finely chopped and well blended. Reserve the remaining 1/2 cup pistachios.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream and the pistachio-sugar mixture and stir to blend. Set the pan over medium-low heat and warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and steam begins to rise from the surface, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and salt until blended. Form a kitchen towel into a ring and place the bowl on top to prevent it from moving. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the pistachio-cream until smooth and blended, then pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon or spatula, until the custard thickens and a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 8 to 10 minutes; do not allow the custard to boil.

Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl; discard the pistachios. Nestle the bowl in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water and cool the custard to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.

Stir the almond extract into the custard, transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturers instructions. At the end of the freezing stage, add the remaining 1/2 cup pistachios and continue processing just until they are blended into the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving.

Makes about 1 quart.

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