It's Summer, and I Want Chips in My Pistachio Ice Cream

Time to bust out that Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and chill that freezer bowl. I scream, you scream, we all know how the rest goes.

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I have pretty much two go-to flavors when I make ice cream:

1) Strawberry, which I cut with about 1/4 cup of finely-diced mango — not enough that it’s noticeable, but just enough that the flavor of the mango brightens the taste profile and enlivens the strawberry on the palette.

2) Mint Chocolate Chip, which absolutely must be made with fresh mint steeped in warm cream and cooled before mixing.

I do like to change it up on occasion and try something new. One thing I’ve always been perplexed by was the lack of chocolate chips in pistachio ice cream. What gives? In fact, more often one will find whole pistachios in there, which dumbfounds me further. I love nuts — excessively so, I’ve been told — but they have no business being in ice cream. Their papery texture and unavoidable grittiness clashes with everything smooth and velvety that ice cream should be.

And then there’s the flavor itself, oftentimes a pistashio-ish additive that’s clearly chemically-derived. I tried a few different methods to coax the nutty flavor from fresh pistachios, starting from this recipe on Chowhound which uses honey as the sweetener. However, I did make a couple modifications.

First off, I skip the whole custard step. I find that the egg custard can step on the texture and flavor of the cream, particularly if I’m using high-quality, grass-fed dairy from a local farm. (There’s a small roadside vendor on the North Fork of Long Island called Ty Llwyd Farms whose unpasteurized raw milk and cream is a revelation. Go out of your way to find them if you’re in the area.) I do, however, warm the milk/cream to help extract the oils from the pistachios.

So, the first step is to lightly toast one cup of unsalted pistachios, then pulse briefly in a food processor or blender just to break up the nuts a bit and release the oils. Pour 3 cups of hot (not boiling) milk/cream over the nuts (I like to go 50-50 with cream and milk, but that’s up to you), and let the pistachios steep in the mixture until it’s all cooled to room temperature, for about two hours. At that point, pour the milk through a sieve to remove the pistachio bits, and add:

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1/16 teaspoon pepper

Mix well so that the honey is fully absorbed, and chill. Make sure the cream mixture is 40 degrees before pouring it into the ice cream maker. Chop 6-8 ounces of chocolate into thin bark and add just before the ice cream is set.

The final product will not be green; in fact it takes on a slightly beige quality. But no matter — I guarantee it will be a delicious way to celebrate the beginning of summer.

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