Recipe: the best pistachio ice cream

This pistachio ice cream is mouth wateringly good. The recipe is from The River Cafe Classic Italian Cook Book, a cook book we cherish, and the only change we’ve made is to roast the pistachios first, as we think this gives the ice cream an even deeper, richer flavour. This recipe will seem extravagant – ten eggs! – but it makes a lot and keeps really well, at least in theory. Ours always gets eaten quickly because everyone loves it so much. This is the recipe we are asked for more frequently than any other, and now that it’s hot again, it’s time to make another batch.

Note: you can’t make this ice cream without a food processor to pulse-chop the pistachios as they must be chopped very, very finely. A food mixer will also make it easier to beat the egg yolks and sugar together, but you can do this using an electric whisk, or if you’ve got a lot of muscle, by hand.

Here it is:

Serves 10 (at the very, very least)

200g unsalted shelled pistachios
400g caster sugar, plus an extra 80g
700ml full-fat milk
300ml double cream
10 large free-range organic eggs, yolks only (freeze the whites in a couple of batches and use them for meringues)

Roast the pistachios by putting them into a dry frying pan over a medium to low heat. Watch them carefully and shake the pan so that the pistachios brown very lightly on all sides. Don’t let them burn.

Put the roasted pistachios into a food processor with 80g of sugar and pulse-chop them as finely as possible.

In a thick-bottomed pan, heat the milk and cream to just below boiling point (you will see bubbles beginning to form at the very edges of the pan). Remove from the heat.

Put the egg yolks and 400g of sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for about 8 minutes, until pale and thick and doubled in volume. Wash the thick-bottomed pan (this is to remove any milk residue that might be a bit scorched).

Add the warm milk and cream to the egg and sugar mix, beating on the lowest speed.

Return this custard mixture to the clean thick-bottomed pan and cook slowly over a very gentle heat until it coats the back of a spoon; this will take at least 15 boring but worth it minutes.

Remove the custard from the heat, stir in the pistachio paste, and then pour and rub the whole thing through a fine sieve into a bowl.

Leave to cool, then churn in an ice cream machine in two batches until frozen. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, put it into the freezer in a shallow container and stir it every fifteen minutes with a fork until frozen and creamy in consistency.

Pisachio ice cream from The River Cafe Classic Italian Cook Book
— Daisy
2nd June 2011