If there’s one thing that I can eat about as much of as you put in front of me, it’s ice cream. I’ve never really had the right tools to make it at home, but that all changed recently. To celebrate my new ice cream contraption, last week’s poll was an ice cream poll.
The end result was actually a tie so I let Betsy break the tie. She picked one of my favorite ice creams of all time: Pistachio.
Most pistachio ice cream that you buy in the store is a crazy green color but, shockingly, that isn’t natural. While pistachios will give your ice cream a very subtle green tint, the final product won’t be intensely green, but it will be intensely good.
1) Process 1 cup of pistachios in a food processor with 1/4 cup of sugar. You can also just chop the pistachios finely and stir in the sugar.
2) Add this mixture to your whole milk over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Stir in your almond extract as well.
3) Bring this mixture to a light simmer. Watch it carefully and stir it regularly so it doesn't scald. It should take around 10 minutes.
4) Once the mixture is simmering, take it off the heat. In a separate bowl whisk together your egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar.
5) Slowly whisk about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks. This will temper the yolks and raise their heat slowly. After that, you can whisk the egg mixture back in with the rest of the milk mixture.
6) Return your saucepan to the stove and turn your heat down to medium-low. Continue to cook your custard for 10-15 minutes until it gets very thick. Stir it constantly during this time. Continue to cook it until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
7) Strain the milk mixture to remove all the pistachio pieces and any cooked egg yolk. Don't worry, there's plenty of pistachio flavor in the custard at this point.
8) Chill your custard for at least two hours and then stir in your cream.
9) Process your custard in an ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes until it's soft serve consistency. Then stir in extra chopped pistachios for texture.
10) Chill this for a few hours so the ice cream hardens!
Adapted from an old Bon Appetit recipe.
Making the Custard Base
The nice thing about learning to make ice cream is once you get the basics down you can pretty much make any flavor you want which is awesome and dangerous at the same time.
To start we need to make a custard base and then mix it with some cream and use that in our ice cream machine to get the final product.
Start by processing 1 Cup of pistachios and 1/4 Cup of sugar in a processor or grinder until they are very finely ground.
Add this to your WHOLE milk in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Also add your almond extract to this mix. I really do think that the almond extract is important here so try not to substitute it. Slowly bring this mixture to a boil, whisking the entire time.
It’ll take probably 10 minutes. While it cooks, the milk will be getting infused with that delicious pistachio flavor. Don’t take your eyes off of it for too long though or else it might scald.
When the milk mixture has reached a light boil, take it off the heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk your egg yolks with the 1/2 Cup of sugar you have remaining.
Tempering the Yolks
If you’ve never made a custard before, this part is important. You can’t just add the yolks straight to the hot liquid or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs, but if you slowly raise the temperature of the yolks and thin them out, then the won’t solidify from the heat. This is called tempering.
It’s actually really easy to do, just don’t forget to do it.
To temper the yolk mixture, slowly drizzle in about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the yolks and whisk furiously while you do it. This should heat up the yolks and thin them out a bit.
Then you can add the tempered yolk mixture back into the hot milk mixture. Again, keep whisking the whole time people.
Return your pan to the burner over low heat and continue to cook it for about 10-15 minutes. Now you don’t want the mixture to boil.
After a few minutes of low heat cooking, it should start to thicken nicely and easily coat the back of a spoon. Like this.
Strain the mix
It’s definitely not essential that you strain your custard, but it’ll result in a much smoother finished product. So if you have a mesh strainer or just a colander with some cheesecloth, strain the mixture.
Now you might be thinking, Nick, are you crazy?! There’s tons of pistachio flavor there! Well, there really isn’t. By this point, the very finely crushed pistachios have been cooking for like 20 minutes in milk and almost all of their flavor is long gone. Trust me. I tasted the mush.
Plus straining it will remove any little bits of yolk which may have cooked during the process.
Cooling and Creaming
Stick your custard base in the fridge for at least 2 hours until it’s really cold. You could make it a day in advance if you want.
When it comes to actually making the ice cream, there are a ton of ice cream makers on the market. I have the Kitchenaid Ice Cream attachment which is pretty simple to use. You just have to make sure to follow the instructions or you might not get a good finished product.
The cool thing about the KitchenAid attachment is that cleanup is super easy. You just have to wash a bowl and it doesn’t require you to have pounds of ice on hand or anything. The disadvantage is that you have to plan a bit. The bowl needs to be frozen for at least 15 hours (although I do mine for a full 24 just to make sure).
Standard ice cream makers might allow for some impromptu ice cream, but the clean up can be a bit messy.
Anyway, once your custard is cooled, add your whipping cream to the custard and fire up your ice cream maker of choice. Follow the directions with your machine for best results.
If you don’t have an ice cream machine and can’t live without making this, I’ve tried this method of making ice cream without a machine with very good results. It’s not quite as creamy and smooth as the machine will make it, but it’s definitely still delicious. (Note: It’s also more work.)
Assuming you have a machine, it’ll probably need to churn for 20-25 minutes.
Right near the end of the process, add in your chopped pistachios for some extra crunchy texture.
After 25 minutes or so of churning, you’ll have soft serve ice cream. It tasted good like this, but I wouldn’t recommend it. So just scoop it into a freezer safe bowl and stash it in your freezer for 3-4 hours.
Then scoop it up and enjoy! The one thing that I noticed right away about this ice cream is that it’s A LOT richer than store bought varieties. It’s super flavorful and creamy and even I could only eat about one really large scoop of it.
I think I really like my new ice cream making hobby. If you didn’t notice though, this isn’t a process that you should rush through. Make sure you have enough time to properly make your custard, chill your custard, and freeze your ice cream after churning. If you rush any one of those steps your ice cream won’t be as good as it could be.
I have a feeling that in 2 or 3 months my freezer is going to look like a Baskin-Robbins…