Pistachio Gelato

29 Apr

“I think everybody’s nuts.” ~ Johnny Depp

One pint of Pistachio Gelato coming right up!

I always say to people, if you think you’re family is normal, you’re nuts. And it’s so true!

When I was a little girl there used to be a nut factory called “The Superior Nut Company” located in some seedy neighborhood of Boston, and every time we’d drive by mother would say “that’s where I got you and your sisters.” Ha ha. Very funny. Turns out, I actually still giggle when I think of it. At least she considers us superior nuts, high-quality, Grade-A lunatics. Thanks mom!

So far, in my ice cream making life, I’ve only used peanuts in my ice cream. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of nuts (maybe because I am one?) and I find that they absolutely pollute desserts. But, when a customer requests a flavor, we jump for joy, and so that’s how Pistachio Gelato came to be.

I actually had a blast making this flavor (and apparently the customer had as much fun eating it as well, which always makes me feel good). The best part about pistachio ice cream is the rich, creamy, nutty flavor that each bite exudes. This, my friends, is the result of toasted pistachios that are then put through a food processor until they turn into “pistachio paste” and can be easily incorporated into the ice cream base. Stir in a little almond extract and some whole, roasted pistachios and you’ve got it made!

Whisking the egg yolks and sugar. Extra creamy!

Pistachio Gelato

Adapted from Ciao Bella and Jenny’s Splendid Ice Creams


3 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup of sugar

1/2 cup roasted**, unsalted pistachios – whole

1/2 cup roasted**, unsalted pistachios – pulverized into pistachio butter (recipe below)

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp almond extract

Whole roasted pistachios before food processing


**If you are able to buy pre-roasted pistachios, then no need to roast at home. But if you buy raw pistachios, you’ll need to roast them first, and here’s how:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned. Remove from the oven, transfer to a plate, and cool. Set aside and follow the rest of the instructions below.

Heat 2 cups of half-and-half in a medium saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Remove from the heat.

The pistachios are starting to crumble

Whisk together the four egg yolks, slowly adding in the sugar until it thickens and turns pale yellow.

Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring in the warm half-and-half until the two are well incorporated. Pour back onto the stove top and heat until 170 degree F or thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, pour in the extra cup of half-and-half and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Set aside.

It's starting to look a little more like paste

Now it’s time to make the pistachio paste. While this process takes about 10 minutes, it’s completely simple and rather satisfying too. Have you always wanted to buy “natural” peanut butter but not wanted to spend the extra cash? This pistachio butter recipe can be substituted for peanuts, almonds, really any nut. It’s delicious. Spread it on toast with a little apricot preserves and you’re good to go.

I digress…To make the pistachio paste/butter, pour 1/2 cup of pistachios into a food processor and pulse for approximately 5-7 minutes until the pistachios crumble into small chunks, a chunky paste, and then ultimately a very creamy and smooth paste, with a little bit of oil settling on the side. You’ll know it’s done when it’s one uniform color and can easily be spread onto bread. You might occasionally have to remove the top of the food processor, and with a spatula or knife, scrape the bottom and sides of the food processor bowl so as to incorporate any rogue chunks of pistachios. Continue pulverizing until smooth.

Only a few more minutes...

Next you’re going to pour half the gelato base into a blender with the pistachio butter, and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add in the remaining gelato base along with the salt, and almond extract. Let cool completely before refrigerating for 2 hours or overnight.

Voila! Pistachio Butter at its finest!

Once fully chilled, pour the mixture into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 5 minutes before the mixture is done churning, pour in the remaining half cup of pistachios. Transfer immediately to a freezer-safe container and let freeze for at least 2 hours or overnight before scooping.

Like any home-made ice cream, remember to let it sit out for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

The final product!

The Verdict: The Husband said “oh wow, that’s really pistachio-ey”. Duh. It’s pistachio gelato, so I ignored him. While not a fan of pistachio gelato myself, I was still able to recognize that the ice cream was quite good. The best feedback, however, comes from my loyal customer, for whom this ice cream was made as a surprise birthday treat. It turns out that he loved it. In fact, he allegedly ate the pint in 2 days, insisting on sampling some at 2:30am when he returned home from traveling. That, my friends, is a glowing review!

3 Responses to “Pistachio Gelato”

  1. Amy May 3, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Loved this entry and so impressed by this whole thing!
    Love you, Ay

  2. SR September 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    I’m also not a fan of pistachio but I made this for a party a few days ago and it was a big hit. Surprisingly people were impressed that the gelato was the color of pistachio! Thanks for the recipe, I look forward to trying more of them.

  3. Maria July 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I made this yesterday after getting the craving for pistachio gelato and doing a Google search. I am so glad I found this recipe, The gelato turned out awesome! It was so creamy and tasted just like pistachios and sweet cream–as it should. Your step-by-step instructions (with pictures) made the process so easy. Thanks!

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