The Soup Blog
Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
Nuts Again, This Time Handmade: Pistachio Ice Cream
Categories: Herbs, Ice Cream

Green Nut

For me, the most rewarding tasks are the ones I do with my hands. I particularly enjoy working with wood but I enjoy fixing small electrical mishap and solving the odd mechanical trouble as well. For some reason the route to the most creative part of my brain goes right through my fingers.

It’s why I’m a writer and a cook.

At the desk I enjoy the physical labor of holding a pen and channeling my thoughts through its nib. I find the keyboard to be less satisfying, yet because my printing has become so atrocious and I need for people to be able to read my work occasionally (like right now), I rely on computers more and more.

In the kitchen, the most fun I have is baking bread. I love all of it. Kneading the dough, flattening it out across the work space, folding it over upon itself, punching it down, squeezing all the little pockets of air out of it, shaping it into a loaf, and then scoring the loaf with a few quick knife strokes so it expands evenly in the oven. This hands-on action is more immediate than using a knife, whisk or any other kitchen tool, but any effort you expend in the kitchen is worth something, even if it’s just cranking a can-opener or opening up a package.

Any work you put into an act makes both the experience and the result that much richer. This is especially true with cooking and writing, but it extends to most other walks of life as well. (Maybe not so much the ordering of food off a menu, although the money you spend probably came through some effort you made.)

Thanks to this newfangled machine I’ve got, freezing ice cream is not much of an all hands on deck effort anymore. But cooking the custard definitely still is.

This week’s effort, Pistachio Ice Cream, required even more hand work than I expected. Revealing the beautiful green of the nutmeats is where most of the labor came from. The procedure also required me to do a bit of research. If you’re like me, shelling the pistachios won’t present too much of a problem, but getting the skins off requires a bit more finesse. Okay, not too much finesse. You just have to pour boiling water over the shelled pistachios, let them soak for about two minutes, drain them and then place them in a hand towel and rub them vigorously back and forth inside the towel. Most of the skins should come off pretty easily, but you’ll have to do a bit more work on some, and then you’ll have to pick through all the skins to find the bright green nuts that you’ve worked so hard to discover.

Luckily, skinning the pistachios is your last step so, if prepping the nuts wears you out, the ice cream freezer can finish the job for you.

Pistachio is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream, although the taste that really does it for me isn’t the pistachios, which just add texture and a bit of color. The thing that keeps me coming back for more is the almond extract. Almond flavoring is the same stuff that makes bear claws so good. It’s the essence of marzipan candy (which my mom and I both love). It’s also what makes Amaretto smell so good (although I’m not sure I’m crazy about drinking the stuff). It’s definitely what makes pistachio ice cream great.

There is, however, one more hands-on task for you to complete before you can enjoy this treat.

It involves a scoop.

NOTE: A lot of pistachio ice cream out there is green. That’s not the nuts, though, it’s food coloring. The cream colored stuff still tastes just as good.

Pistachio Ice Cream
(6-8 servings)

1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 T flour
A few grains salt
2 eggs or 3 yolks (pasteurized, if possible, see note)
1 ½ cup cream
1 t almond extract
1 cup pistachios, shelled, skinned and chopped (you may use raw or roasted)

  1. Heat milk to 180-190ºF with sugar, flour and salt, stirring until thick, cover for 10 minutes.
  2. Beat eggs and add ½ cup of mixture while beating, then add eggs to mixture.

HEALTH NOTE: Since you’re dealing with eggs here, you need to take care when cooking the custard. Too much cooking and the custard gets lumpy, too little and you risk salmonella.  Another alternative is to use pasteurized eggs.

  1. Heat the mixture for one minute over medium heat, then cool with plastic wrap or wax paper pressed onto the top of the mixture to keep it from developing a skin. Cool for several hours or overnight.
  2. Add almond extract, pistachios and cream to the custard mixture.
  3. Freeze

Photo Credit: “Green Nut,” by the author.

I must say the new blog focus feels good to me.  If you feel differently (or even the same), please let me know in a comment. And again, if you’ve got any ice cream/sorbet special requests, let me know.


1 Comment to “Nuts Again, This Time Handmade: Pistachio Ice Cream”

  1. […] mom used to make it back then. It had pieces of chopped peach throughout and got a nice boost from my personal favorite flavor, almond extract. But that’s all I […]

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