Pistachio Gelato

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Prep Time: 200 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8

Made with a higher egg-to-cream ratio than other custard-based ice creams, gelato, a frozen treat that’s wildly popular in Italy, is dense and full flavored. To skin pistachios, place the nuts in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and let stand for 2 minutes before draining the nuts and rubbing them vigorously with a towel to slip off the skins. If the nuts jam the paddle when you add them to your ice cream maker, turn the machine off and use a rubber spatula to stir in the nuts by hand.


  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) unsalted whole pistachio nuts, shelled and skins removed
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


In a food processor, combine half of the pistachios and 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) of the sugar. Pulse to chop the nuts coarsely, then process to a coarse paste, about 1 minute. Using a chef's knife, coarsely chop the remaining nuts.

In a saucepan, combine the milk and the pistachio paste, stirring to distribute it evenly. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream and the remaining 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sugar until well blended.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until bubbles form around the edges and the sugar dissolves, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not allow to come to a boil. Remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolk mixture while slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture. When almost all of the hot liquid has been added, slowly pour the warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan, still whisking. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not boil.

Pour the hot custard through a sieve into a clean bowl, gently pressing the liquid through the sieve and leaving any grainy solids in the sieve. Stir in the vanilla until blended.

Nestle the bowl with the custard in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water and let cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and on top of the bowl. Refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours.

Prepare an ice cream maker with at least a 1-quart (1-l) capacity according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pour the custard into the ice cream maker and churn until the custard reaches the consistency of thick whipped cream. During the last 1 minute of churning, add the chopped pistachios and continue to churn until incorporated. Transfer to a plastic freezer container, cover tightly and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Makes about 1 quart (1 l)

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Frozen Desserts (Weldon Owen 2014)

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