February 27, 2012

Pistachio Ice Cream

It's almost summer - sun has been out for a few days (ice creams have even been going around work already!) Walks in the park to find eggs (London's The Big Egg Hunt is currently on!), markets in full glory, why not get the ice cream machine out and make everyone smile with your lovely creations!

This is one of the best flavours you can make at home and using Le Gavroche's recipe below means it tastes extra divine!

This is easy to do but as it is custard base you will need to make ahead of time so it can cool then freeze.
You will need:
6 egg yolks
120g caster sugar
500ml full fat milk
30g pistachio paste (see below)
optional 30g peeled pistachios (roughly chopped)

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks with half the sugar in a large bowl until thick and creamy.

In a heavy bottomed medium sized saucepan slowly bring the milk & remaining sugar just to the boil - make sure you watch it otherwise the second you look away it will bubble like mad and overflow creating a lovely mess and losing half your mixture! Remove from heat as soon as it starts to boil and add the pistachio paste stirring it to dissolve (if it was in the freezer chop it up before adding it in)

Pour the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture and stir well. It will be nice and frothy.
Return the mix to the saucepan and stir over a low heat (you want to slowly bring the temperature up to about 170deg Celsius - mixture should start to thicken and should cover the back of a spoon. You don't want to heat quickly otherwise the eggs will scramble and your ice cream flavour will be that of scrambled eggs too - not good unless you are aiming for Heston's Bacon&Egg flavour!!!

When thickened, pour into a container and chill for about 1.5 hours (it needs to be cool). Once cooled, strain the mixture (I like to strain it twice so that my final ice cream is silky smooth). Pour the strained mix slowly into an already churning ice crew maker until set. You can then add the chopped pistachios if you so desire (I like to add them when serving instead so that you can get that creamy texture all round).

The end result is amazing! Top with a nice hot chocolate sauce or on top of a baked chocolate mousse or just devour on it's own. Yum Yum Yum

Pistachio paste is brilliant  - it can be used to flavour ice cream, macaroon ganache, cake toppings, danish pastries oh the options are endless. I used this recipe (the great macaroon artist Pierre HermĂ©'s tweaked for easily found ingredients) a while back with the quantity made, I froze the rest and used it anytime I needed it  (it lasted about a year in the freezer!) I used it a lot too !!! Number one tip - buy already shelled pistachios! I sent Mr.gIrLbAkEs  out to buy them and he came back with unshelled ones - I had callouses on my fingers for days after shelling them all!

500 g shelled pistachios
125 g very very finely ground almonds (powder)
250 g caster sugar
7 cl water
a few drops bitter almond extract (or just almond extract)

It a good idea to invest in a spice/nut grinder if you haven't already done so. I got a mini one for my last birthday  - good for things like this (will go for a larger one soon though as the mini one means you have to do lots of batches - but result fantastic still)!

If you don't have a grinder use a pestal and mortar  - a lovely experience but takes patience and time to get it down to a finely ground powder.

Pound or grind the shelled pistachios into a fine powder. In a non plastic bowl, add the almonds and pistachios and a couple of drops of almond extract. 

In a heavy bottomed saucepan add the water and sugar. Heat to 121deg Celsius . Swirl the pan rather than stirring. 

Once temperature has been reached, pour the VERY hot sugar mixture into the pistachio paste mixture and Mix quickly or it will crystallise. 

Slowly add a little water at a time and mix until it is a marzipan like texture. It should come together nice and smoothly like a dough. Roll into a sausage, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a year (maybe more if you're lucky but use it in everything so you don't have to!)

It doesn't matter if you can't get it really fine - as most recipes you will need to use it in will require you to infuse the paste in cream then strain. It's all personal preference in texture as well.

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