I wasn't lying when I said I'd be making pistachio gelato soon. Now, I'm thinking I need a bigger ice cream maker because frozen treats like this one never seem to last long. The recipe is from the book The Country Cooking of Italy, and true to traditional gelato-making, it’s lower in butterfat and sugar than ice cream. In the book, there’s a brief story about the arrival of sorbets and gelatos in Italy and a mention of ice cream sandwiches. It was in Sicily where gelato was first scooped into a brioche roll and was typically eaten that way in the morning. Why have I never had gelato in brioche for breakfast, and how soon can I change that? In describing gelato, Andrews writes: “(it) has a distinctive texture, creamy but sometimes faintly grainy.” With this pistachio gelato, that was definitely true. It’s made with pistachio flour which I could have ordered online, but instead, I ground whole pistachios in a food processor. I sifted the ground pistachios, but I suspect a purchased pistachio flour would have been a little finer. So, yes, my pistachio gelato was slightly grainy, but what struck me most about it was how rich and creamy tasting it was considering that there were no eggs and no cream.
If you’re able to find pistachio flour, then by all means, use it. But, grinding pistachios in a food processor is an easy task. As I mentioned, I sifted the ground pistachios before using them. One cup of the sifted ground pistachios was used, and that was placed in a big measuring pitcher and set aside. This particular gelato was thickened with corn starch. So, cornstarch and sugar were placed in a heat-proof bowl with some milk, and the mixture was whisked to combine. More milk was heated to a simmer in a saucepan, and the cornstarch mixture was whisked into it. That mixture was heated, while stirring, until it thickened which took about ten minutes. The thickened milk mixture was then poured over the ground pistachios while whisking. This was left to cool and then refrigerated overnight. The next morning, the pistachio mixture was poured through a sieve before being poured into the ice cream maker.
The flavor was completely pistachio, and I loved that plenty of green remained in the mixture after straining out the ground nuts. This does freeze very firm, so it’s best to move it from the freezer to the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to scoop it. Then, it’s surprisingly velvety and rich-tasting for what a simple concoction it is.