Photo by ArtsySF and used with her permission.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Ben and Jerry's Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream

Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago, Jules from Tamara’s Sweet Treats Yahoo Group asked me for a copy cat recipe for Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio Ice Cream. Having never really tried it before I bought some to determine if it was worth the challenge.

When Mrs. Fellow saw my purchase, I had to endure a 10 minute diatribe about why Pistachio Pistachio was not the flavor to pick and how I would have been better off with any of her other favorite flavors. Much to her chagrin, she really liked it. I must admit it was very tasty. I enjoyed the pistachio pieces and the flavor was reasonably pistachio.

This is surprising because the Fellow is not a fan of pistachio ice cream. I always find it to be too sweet and lacking in pistachio flavor. I am not alone in this view. Caroline Liddell & Robin Weir, the authors of Frozen Desserts, also find it to be insipid, describing the various ice creams they tried as “so bad they beggar description.”

The big reason for this is that pistachio ice cream rarely contains 100 percent pistachios. These little nuts are expensive and hard to skin making it fairly cost prohibitive to manufacture and painful and time consuming for the home cook. Most commercially available pistachio ice creams that are made with almonds as opposed to their namesakes. In fact, when researching recipes most of the ones I found called for either some quantity of almonds mixed with the pistachios or almond extract. Upon reading the B&J ingredients I noticed that they use pistachios and of course the mysterious “natural flavors” listed on the container. Not a good sign for sure. Anything can be hidden in the “natural flavorings.”

In my recipe, I do not skin the pistachios because it is a very difficult chore. The nuts have to be blanched to loosen the skins. Because of their irregular shapes this can lead to raw fingers. When I inspected the B&J’s ice cream it occurred to me that they did not skin the pistachio pieces. So if unskinned nuts are good enough for them, they are good enough for me.

Now for the bad news. The Fellow could not entirely replicate the flavor, but do not fret because the good news is that my recipe is far superior. If you really want ice cream that tastes like pistachios you will love my recipe. When we tasted my version against the Ben and Jerry’s it became apparent that they use some sort of almond flavoring. Not very much, but in comparison to my straight up pistachio version, the flavors were different.

I have two alternatives for you to try if you like B&J’s flavor more than my recipe. First, replace ¼ cup of the pistachios with almonds for steeping in the base. Second, add ¼ teaspoon of almond extract to the base. If those ideas do not work, then try adding a very small quantity of coconut oil. It is one of B&J’s ingredients.

Pistachio Ice Cream

1 ¼ cup of raw pistachios
1 cup sugar
2 cups cream
2 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
c teaspoon salt

1. Spread the pistachios in one layer on a tray and put in a preheated 350F oven until they are slightly toasted. This should take about 8 minutes depending on your oven. The best way to tell that they are toasted is that you should be able to smell them. Remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. Then put 1 cup of the pistachios in a food processor and chop to medium coarseness. Reserve the remaining whole nuts as add-ins to the custard once it is frozen.
2. Put the milk, cream, ¾ cup of the sugar into a pot and bring to a slight simmer stirring occasionally.
3. As the milk and cream are heating, place the egg yolks into a bowl with the other ¼ cup of sugar and salt and beat until all ingredients are well combined.
4. Once the milk/cream mixture is simmering, remove it from the heat and temper the egg mixture by adding a small amount of the hot milk/cream and stirring thoroughly. Repeat this process a couple of more times to ensure that the eggs have warmed up. You should use about a of a cup of hot cream mixture in total. Then pour the complete egg mixture into the cream pot.
5. Return the pot to the heat and stir constantly until the custard reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Put the chopped pistachios in a bowl. Pour the custard over the nuts. It is not necessary to strain the custard because it will be done before freezing. Stir in the vanilla. Cool, then cover and chill for 24 hours.
7. Strain the custard to remove the pistachios. Discard the nuts. Freeze and add the reserved pistachio nuts in the last minute of freezing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if it still available, but a number of years ago B&J came out with a ice cream recipie book. The pistachio recipie in it was made with finely ground pistachios. It was by far the best pistachio ice cream I have ever had. If you need me to dig out the recipie send me a tweet

And you are correct - almost all commercially made pistachio ice cream does contain almond.