Pistachio Ice Cream with Shaved Chocolate (Gelato al Pistacchio)

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6

Unlike the artificial green stuff you often find, this pistachio ice cream is the real deal: a pale yellow cream rich with the toasted nuts for which Sicily is famous. The added chocolate makes it irresistible.


  • 3/4 cup unsalted roasted pistachio nuts 
  • 6 Tbs. plus 1 1/2 cups milk   
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream 
  • 4 egg yolks 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • Pinch of fine sea salt 
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract (optional) 
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, shaved or finely chopped 


Put the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the 6 Tbs. milk and process until a creamy paste forms, about 1 minute. Scrape the pistachio paste into a bowl.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the 1 1/2 cups milk and the cream and warm until just at the point of simmering. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until thick and pale yellow. Slowly drizzle in a ladleful of the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Whisk in another ladleful of the hot milk mixture, then slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a custard forms that lightly coats the back of the spoon, about 15 minutes.

Strain the hot custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl and let cool slightly, then whisk in the pistachio paste. Stir in the almond extract. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the custard has thickened in the machine, add the chocolate and continue to mix just until well blended. Transfer the gelato to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

To serve, scoop the gelato into dessert bowls. Makes about 1 quart; serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011).

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