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phil grants a reprieve

Recipe: pistachio ice cream

The groundhog has spoken, so to speak. Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and according to lore, we shall have six more weeks of winter! Just six?! I’m calling it a reprieve because I have blown (literally, figuratively) the past week of potential skiing due to my cold. Six more weeks merely takes us into mid-March, and March is when we in the beautiful state of Colorado (at least the western half – I know, I’m a mountain snob) get some of the best big dump snowfalls. Where I live, winter can start as early as September and ends sometime in May. All of the other seasons get crammed into the remaining months.

a local cousin of phil’s: a marmot

Unless I’m on my back and completely delirious or comatose, I always have to be doing something. I got quite a bit of work done including several internal issues on urb which means I’m now 20% less crazy! Instead of getting my ski on, we stayed home and worked this weekend which puts me in a much happier frame of mind at the start of this week. Yip!

pistachios and sugar

After I made the birthday cake for my friend’s 50th a few weeks ago, I had a ton of egg yolks left in my refrigerator. I had been wanting to make pistachio ice cream ever since I got David Lebovitz’ ice cream bible (TPS, don’t you know). After I had a try at the coffee, chocolate, matcha green tea, and vanilla ice creams, I flipped through the lovely pages in search of pistachio ice cream and found… nada, tostada.

grind into a fine green goodness

Rather than lobotomizing one of DL’s ice cream recipes, I went searching online and settled on a recipe from I didn’t really follow the instructions and it still worked out! For instance, I ground the pistachios with all of the sugar instead of just 1/4 cup, but it doesn’t affect the custard, really. That was just me not reading carefully. Well actually, that was me making and shooting three recipes in parallel – something I hope not to do again for a long, long time.

adding the sugar-pistachio mixture to the milk

I was a little puzzled about adding almond extract to hot milk and then heating it again during the custard stage. I was always told that extracts and liqueurs should not be heated or they might boil off. The almond extract was stirred in at the very last stage before pouring everything into the ice cream maker.

whisking the hot milk mix into the yolks

The other odd bit about the recipe was that the ground pistachios are cooked into the custard and then the custard is supposed to be strained. The reason for straining the custard is a good one: to get rid of the cooked egg bits so that you have a nice and smooth ice cream. I suspected I would encounter a problem with the straining because of all the pistachio bits, so I used the sieve with the coarsest mesh and still managed to capture about an ounce of ground pistachios. Dang. I hate waste. Maybe “finely grind” means “grind the hell out of”?

pour cream into the custard

The last step was to stir in chopped pistachios. I hesitated because I quite like a smooth ice cream, but decided to go ahead and add the nuts. These were chopped a little finer than the coarse chop the recipe suggested – sort of a compromise.

stir in some chopped pistachios

While some recipes I found called for green food coloring, I didn’t need any because the pistachios impart a beautiful green shade to the ice cream. The flavor is decidedly pistachio with some almond overtones – very nutty and a hint of bitter which I think might be from the skins because I didn’t bother skinning them. Maybe next time I’ll go to the trouble of skinning the pistachios, but I really like the ice cream as it is.

a mini scoop on a mini cone is a huge treat

Pistachio Ice Cream
[print recipe]

1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 large egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, toasted, coarsely chopped

Finely grind 1 cup pistachios and 1/4 cup sugar in processor. Bring milk and ground pistachio mixture to boil in heavy large saucepan. Remove from heat. Mix in almond extract [Note: I actually think it’s best to add the almond extract when everything has cooled – so I waited to add it just before putting it in the ice cream machine]. Whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return custard to saucepan. Cook over low heat until custard thickens and leaves path on back of spoon when finger is drawn across, stirring constantly, about 10 minutes (do not boil). Strain into large bowl. [Note: This is when I add the almond extract.] Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Stir 1 cup whipping cream and chopped pistachios into custard. Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container and freeze.

49 nibbles at “phil grants a reprieve”

  1. Tartelette says:

    Pistachio ice cream is my favorite! I have been making quite a few lately but this one is next weekend if I can wait that long…not!
    Love it!

  2. Rosa says:

    What a gorgeous looking ice cream! Mmmhhh. pistachios… A pity this nut is really expensive here!



  3. Eat. Travel. Eat! says:

    Mmm…I like pistachio ice cream! Tastes really yummy. I’ve been noticing I always taste a bit of almond and now I know due to the recipe list.

    Agree with the mini scoop and mini cone idea. Always fun to eat something miniature but then suddenly there is so much goodness!

  4. sara says:

    Yum, this looks totally amazing! I so need to get an ice cream maker. :)

  5. Mrs Ergül says:

    I will really like to own a cuisinart! Imagine how much less cussing and frustration I will have shall I own one!!!!!

    I don’t think any green food colouring is needed too. I like it real and natural. That light tint of green happens to work for me!

    Ski for the next 6 weeks babe! You don’t wanna miss it!

  6. Allison says:

    I’ve been wondering what to do with all the egg yolks I have left over from making buttercream. Now if I only had an ice cream maker…I guess this is a good excuse to get one. Great recipe!

  7. Pearl says:

    Hi! Quick question: what kind of ice cream maker do you use?

  8. Manisha says:

    Pah. What does Phil know! Ask the Marmot I say. I do want more of winter as I am enjoying hiking in the mountains. I don’t want those trails becoming slushy just yet.

    I’ve made ice-cream only once but now I have a manual ice-cream maker. My daughter came home with it when she passed by a neighbor’s garage sale. I sent her back to pay them but it was free. I have no clue how it works and the previous owner didn’t know either. So that’s one more thing I have to figure out!

  9. Veggie Wedgie says:

    Pistachio ice cream is my favorite flavor. Its just so good.

  10. Aran says:

    the sight of all those pistachios is making me weak in the knees!

  11. Caitlin says:

    Oh pistachio ice cream – I never understood it until I had a bite of my mom’s. She always got it, and now so do I!

  12. Ginny says:

    can i just come over and watch you cook? everything always looks so amazing! :)

  13. Candace says:

    My favorite flavor! That looks outrageous!

  14. Mollie says:

    You and your pistachios! Love it. This looks amazing. And I like your new slogan… “Jen! Now with 20% less crazy!” :)

  15. veron says:

    I’ve been looking for a recipe for pistachio ice cream and looks like I’ve found it! Great pictures , as usual!

  16. Patricia Scarpin says:

    My husband has been begging me for pistachio ice cream ever since I got the ice cream maker, Jen. This is luscious!

    As for the cold, we are in the middle of summer here, but I have to admit I love cold days… :D

  17. Lindsey says:

    Up here in southernish New England, we have a super cold winter with lots of snow…but we don’t always get the best skiing/snowboarding snow. So I’m definitely jealous of your Colorado snow.

  18. Rita says:

    Your ice cream looks so nice! It took me a while to understand the whole groundhog thing, I have to have my husband explain it to me twice (never heard of that in Brazil) I still don’t know if I get it completely. I am hoping the six weeks will fly by though…

  19. Abby says:

    I’m so glad you left out the food coloring – it’s so much prettier your way!

    And I’m kind of ready for Spring. (Don’t hit me!)

  20. cindy says:

    you are right, that color is very pretty as is. i love pistachio ice cream, but i have yet to make it. i also have to admit i do love the winter too, but for the cozy times spent indoors…not really for the skiing…as i always end up being mauled by a snowboarder or something like that.

  21. Chuck says:

    Pistachio Ice Cream is my favorite! I keep saying one day I’m going to make Ice Cream. I really hope to give this recipe a try.

  22. Passionate Eater says:

    I agree that skinning those pistachios would be quite an endeavor. If it tastes fine the way it is, then I say you just made an excellent recipe modification! And I actually like summer/spring a tad better than winter, because although there isn’t any snow, there is time for snow cones and refreshing ice cream (including pistachio)!

  23. Manggy says:

    Geez, does Phil ever say there won’t be six more weeks?! I wanna see what produce Spring has to offer already! Ha ha, I’m such a villain to your ski dreams :)
    Don’t feel too bad about throwing the pistachio solids out– I’m sure you’d find grainy ice cream horrible! If you really wanna get the most of them nuts, you might even considering grinding them to a paste/butter consistency (perhaps with a touch of the liquid?), then press them into a fine sieve. Totally agree with the extract bit of course! I’m too scared to not add sugar to a custard for now :) I love the beautiful natural green color you’ve achieved!

  24. Hayley says:

    Your photos are wonderful, and this ice cream looks amazing…so creamy. Thanks for sharing!

  25. brilynn says:

    Delicious! This may very well be the next flavour I make.

  26. lisa (dandysugar) says:

    Your photo is making my mouth water. I love pistachios, it’s a weak spot for me. Your ice cream looks so creamy and gorgeous. A perfect winter treat!

  27. peabody says:

    The marmots are so cute.
    The ice cream looks yummy, though must admit I have only had pistachio ice cream once in my life as a kid.

  28. Graeme says:

    Marmot-age! I want one.

    And Jen, Pistachio? You know where it’s at. Honestly, the best flavour of anything, ever.

  29. kellypea says:

    Mmm…makes me want some right now. Made a Saveur recipe before going to Italy this summer and was fascinated by the whole soaking the nuts thing. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. Yours turned out such a pretty color, too.

  30. Emmy says:

    Funny story true story, once while making pastry cream I added my vanilla to the hot custard while standing RIGHT OVER IT, thus giving myself a steam/booze facial and inhaling the equivalent of a shot. Maybe I was just startled, but I had to go have a sit-down after that one. So you probably made the right call on the almond extract.

    Mmm, pistachio. I, too, am a smooth ice cream fan. Mostly because I like to mush it all up in my bowl until it’s like soft serve. But this looks soooo yummy. I may have to go buy some now!

  31. jenyu says:

    Tartelette – Me too. I think most people I know say chocolate is their favorite, but for me it has always been pistachio.

    Rosa – I’m sorry it’s so expensive there. It’s pretty expensive here too, but I doubt it costs as much as where you are.

    ETE – that was the kicker for me too. I love pistachio and almond, so it seems like the perfect marriage.

    Sara – I swear, if you like ice cream, making your own is a great way to go.

    Mrs. Ergul – yes, the cuisinart is wonderful. I think I would cry if I had to give mine up. I too love the natural green color of pistachios, but I think those lovely turkish pistachios you had were sooooo beautiful.

    Allison – I used to have that problem too (and I *owned* an ice cream machine already). Custards, ice creams – all great ways to use up yolks!

    Pearl – I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream machine. It cost $40 about ten years ago and it works very nicely.

    Manisha – ha ha ;) I think you are supposed to line the outer area with rock salt and ice and then you churn the mixture in the canister. Something like that. I can ask my pal Kell, who has a hand crank ice cream maker like yours. So cool!

    VW – mmmm!!

    Aran – I’m sure you could turn the pistachios into something pretty magical, my dear.

    Caitlin – your mom is one smart lady. I’m right there with her.

    Ginny – Ha ha, you wouldn’t say that if you saw the state of my kitchen after a cook/shoot ;)

    Candace – :)

    Mollie – yes, less crazy is sometimes good (sometimes). Actually, the reason I do so much with pistachios is because I buy them at Trader Joe’s by the bags (I pilgrimage to TJ’s about once or twice a year). When I open a bag, I feel as if I need to use it up before the nuts go rancid. Go figure ;)

    Veron – thank you and I hope you meet with great success on your ice cream!

    Patricia – ooooh, you’ve been churning out some beautiful ice creams, dear. Hope the ice cream cools you off :)

    Lindsey – I hear ya. I used to live in Ithaca. I like the snow better over here ;)

    Rita – oh yes, the groundhog is a strange tradition here, but a funny one. I love groundhogs and marmots – they are so fat sometimes!

    Abby – awwww, you’re so cute. I wouldn’t ever hit you (at least not for wanting spring). I love spring too. I love all of the seasons. It’s like being a black lab… I get so excited about each new season that I forget about being sad about the exiting season.

    Cindy – ha ha, I have trained my ears to locate that scraping boarder sound before imminent impact ;) But yeah, I got a mild concussion a few years ago when a boarder took me out (and I was standing STILL).

    Chuck – you owe it to yourself and to Hungry Bear, dude :)

    PE – Our spring and summer are pretty short here (not as short as Alaska’s) and so to me, they are quite precious and splendid. I love all seasons, but winter is the one I make the most of because it’s so long and well – may as well love it the right way :) But I totally love the snow cones!!!

    Mark – I dunno, he’s getting so FAT, how can he see anything? My ski dreams are perfectly intact. You have a whole belt around the Earth’s equator for your love of warmth, my dear. Yes, you are correct. My thinking was next time I’d grind the hell out of the pistachios and then there would be no waste.

    Hayley – thank you!

    Brilynn – mmm mmm mmm, I hope so and I hope you love it!

    Lisa – I feel the same about pistachios :) Yay pistachios!

    Peabody – no way! I would have expected you to have baked and churned pistachio circles around me, hon.

    Graeme – they’re crazy little dudes, aren’t they? You got it, babe.

    Kellypea – thanks!

    Emmy – wow, that doesn’t sound fun (or maybe it was?) I’m just puzzled why they had that in the instructions for my ice cream recipe. Go figure. If I could have soft serve… oh boy oh boy.

  32. Holly says:

    I’m so excited — I finally ordered an ice cream maker! I’ve been wanting to get one for months. It’s sitting in a UPS facility 30 minutes from here right now! I can’t wait to try out this recipe, Jen!

  33. mycookinghut says:

    Yum!!! Pistachio ice cream!! Nice shot too!

  34. jenyu says:

    Holly – wooohoo! You’re gonna love it. I hope you have lots of fun times making ice cream (and eating it) :)

    MCH – thanks.

  35. Kevin says:

    That pistachio ice cream looks so good!

  36. jenyu says:

    Kevin – thank you :)

  37. Chez US says:

    I was looking for something to go nicely with the upcoming Daring Bakers Challenge -perfect!

    I hope you had a lovely long weekend & got some stellar skiing in! Raining like crazy here – which means good snow in Tahoe! ;)


  38. jenyu says:

    Chez Us – yay for snow!! xxoo

  39. neringa says:

    mmmmmm…pistchio ice delicioius and looks more than good. I would like to make that also, but one question. Dear, Jen can i make it without ice cream machine ????????????!!!!!!!!!!! is it possible to get something like that?

  40. jenyu says:

    Neringa – I’m not sure. I haven’t tried to make ice cream without a machine, but I imagine some recipes will work like that. Perhaps place it in the freezer and stir it often? It won’t be as smooth or creamy, but it will probably taste pretty good.

  41. neringa says:

    so…i already tried, because always wanted to make ice cream :) what can i say, taste will be perfect!! in a freezer i stired my ice cream quite often. and i think will be good , because it helps. so thank U very much. U helped again to born new miracle in my kitchen :)

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  47. Julie says:

    Made today – totally delicious. Surely to become a staple in our ice cream loving house!

  48. Madeleine says:

    This was phenomenal! Perfect creaminess without being heavy and had an intense flavor. We’ll see how it freezes and thaws but truly delicious.

    Used 1 cup whole milk, 1 cup 2% milk, and 1 cup heavy cream. Reduced sugar slightly and added a tablespoon of honey (which you couldn’t end up tasting). Next time I’ll reduce the sugar and possibly bump the almond or honey flavor. Oh, and we ended up keeping the fine pistachio bits in there instead of chopping up more.

  49. Jack says:

    While some recipes I found called for green food coloring, I didn’t need any because the pistachios impart a beautiful green shade to the ice cream. The flavor is decidedly pistachio with some almond overtones – very nutty and a hint of bitter which I think might be from the skins because I didn’t bother skinning them. Maybe next time I’ll go to the trouble of skinning the pistachios, but I really like the ice cream as it is.

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