Bernard’s Pistachio Ice Cream

Last week we talked about the divinely silky, velvety Agrimontana Pistachio Paste from Italy.  Today, we use that pistachio paste to make something truly divine– the best Pistachio Ice Cream that I have ever tried in my life.  The Agrimontana man who helped me find the pistachio paste was named Bernard, so I have called this divine creation “Bernard’s Pistachio Ice Cream” in his honor. 🙂

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Bernard’s Pistachio Ice Cream


1 cup half and half

2 cups heavy cream

4 egg yolks (save the whites to make French Macarons)

3/4 cup white sugar

Pinch salt

6 tbsp. pure pistachio paste (I used Agrimontana, but a good American brand is Fiddyment Farms pure pistachio paste)


Mix together half and half, heavy cream, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Heat until very warm, but not boiling.  In the meantime whisk together egg yolks and white sugar until the mixture turns lighter yellow and creamy.  Pour the warm milk into the egg mixture, whisking the entire time you combine.  Pour the egg/milk mixture into the saucepan and heat until you reach 170 degrees, whisking regularly.  Remove the mixture from the heat and add in the pistachio paste.  Cover and refrigerate mixture until it is completely chilled; churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.  Ice cream will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for several weeks (but it won’t last that long– trust me).

Now, in pictures! 🙂

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

Last week we took an in-depth look at Pistachio Paste— that rich, overpoweringly pistachio punch that is right at home in gelato and ice cream recipes.  And most especially we discussed Agrimontana Pistachio Paste, that elixir to the gods . . . that nutty nirvana that created what is perhaps not only the best pistachio ice cream, but the best ice cream of any flavor that I have ever tasted in my life.

It’s that good.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

In honor of the man from the Agrimontana family who helped me track down this elusive little product, I have named this recipe “Bernard’s Pistachio Ice Cream.”  Because, after all . . . without Bernard, there would have been no Pistachio Ice Cream, and I would have been crying little green tears out of pure envy when I saw pictures of the Agrimontana pistachio paste online, knowing I could never have it for my own.

Homemade ice cream is something that you don’t *think* you will mess with or need, until you try it.  And a lot of the enjoyment of homemade ice cream comes from the actual making process– choosing your flavors and colors and watching it come together in front of your eyes, as if you are some kind of pastry chef wizard or something.  If you have an old crank mixer, then the process is going to be arduous and messy, and you probably won’t enjoy it.  If you have a nice electric ice cream machine where you can just push a button and then come back half an hour later with an empty bowl and a spoon, then I guarantee you that you’ll start enjoying making homemade ice cream more often.

I have the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, and it has been the most fun, “I don’t need this but I’m sure glad I bought it” devices that I have ever had.  Get yourself one of these babies.  You won’t regret it.  Trust me.

Making ice cream is all about the ratios of sugar to dairy to fat.  Changing up your ratios will change the texture and consistency of your ice cream.  A true gelato has no added eggs or even cream– a true Sicilian gelato is made from milk thickened with a cornstarch slurry, producing little to no taste in the base, itself, and the ability to be kept frozen at a lower temperature, allowing the “star ingredient” to shine through.

Americanized gelato is ice cream and contains heavy cream and egg yolks.  It is kept at a lower temperature and will feel “colder” on the tongue.  It is richer and silkier and fluffier (exactly the way you want your men).  I made both traditional Sicilian gelato and Americanized ice cream, and the ice cream was my favorite.  So that is the recipe I’m sharing with you today.

Start out by heating your heavy cream, half and half, and salt together in a medium saucepan.  You want this mixture to be warm (like a pleasant bath temperature), but not boiling at all.  A light, pleasant steam when you lift out your whisk is ok.  You have to be careful when heating milk products because if they get too hot they will scald, and then you will have to start over, delaying ice cream bliss. Don’t scald your milk.  Your immediate ice cream gratification depends on it.

Use low heat, whisking regularly, until you get that “Ahhhh perfectly nice and warm” temperature.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

While your milk is taking a trip to the spa, let’s go ahead and separate our eggs.  You can use the leftover egg whites to make, oh . . . how about French Macarons?  You can’t have ice cream without macarons– what are we– barbarians???

They are a symbiotic match made in heaven. And you *have* to do this, because you don’t want to waste egg whites, right?  You’re really doing a steady for the environment, here, when you think about it that way.  You’re a genius.  I love working with you.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

While your cream is heating, go ahead and whisk together your egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.  This only takes about a minute, and you should see the egg yolks changing from that buttery yellow to a more light, frothy yellow.  When you see this, turn off your mixer on the eggs because it’s time for the tricky part, and we need to have a huddle to discuss it before we go on.

Pouring very hot milk together with eggs will cook those eggs if you don’t put on your superman cape and stop it.  If the temperature of the eggs is raised gradually, rather than shocked, however, you can get away with adding hot liquid to them without cooking them.

To accomplish this incredible feat of derring-do, you have to add the hot milk gradually, all the while whisking your egg mixture furiously, to incorporate it instantly.  Yeah.  Kinda complicated.  So Batman, that’s why you have your faithful sidekick Robin, the Kitchenaid Mixer.  Let your mixer spin away while you drizzle the hot milk down the side of the bowl.  It’s like having an extra set of hands.  See?  I knew you could do this.  You’re so smart.  I love working with you.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

Add your custard base (what we made when we mixed the milk and egg mixtures together) back into your saucepan where you just had the milk heating up.  I like to skim the foam off the top at this point and throw it away– it will help your ice cream to be creamier and not have any weird scummy bubbles in it when you’re finished.  Of course, if everyone in your house is a ravenous ice cream T-Rex and you want to save the ice cream for yourself, by all means leave the scummy bubbles in.  You might have a chance to actually taste some before the animals destroy it all.  You could also label your ice cream containers “Dissected Brains and Hearts,” which I have found to be a fairly good ice cream thief deterrent, as well.

Whisk this custard frequently (more frequently as it gets closer to the temperature), and take its temperature with a digital thermometer.  It doesn’t take long to reach 170 degrees, which is when you pull it off the heat.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

If you don’t have a cooking thermometer, just know that it takes only a minute or two more of heating, and the finished product should coat the back of a spoon and not slither off.  It should look like, well . . . melted ice cream, which is exactly what it is.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

After you take your custard off the heat, go ahead and whisk in your pistachio paste.  Inhale deeply, because when that elixir of the gods hits the ice cream base, batta bing batta boom . . . WOW.  You can just close your eyes, and suddenly you’re right back in the old fashioned candy store with the toasting nuts and caramelizing sugars and all the delicious things behind the counter that made you beg your parents to buy you something.  It smells like heaven.  Seriously.  That’s really the only way I can describe it.  I’d make this ice cream just for the smell of the pistachio paste.  It’s that good.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

Cover your finished ice cream base with plastic wrap– let the plastic wrap actually sit on the surface of the liquid, so that it doesn’t form a skin while it cools.  Let your custard chill out in the fridge for a few hours until it’s nice and cool.  Re-whisk to make sure that everything is well combined– and then it’s time for ice cream magic!

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

I have the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, but of course any ice cream machine will work.  If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you need one.  Seriously.  I think the ice cream maker is the one device that I always said “I don’t need that,” and the one I probably reach for the most.  You can make anything into ice cream– from protein shakes to avocados.  The kids can help make their vegetables and fruits into sorbets and be excited about eating them, which of course, is a parenting WIN for you, you genius you.

You can make ice cream out of the freshest summer peaches, the darkest homemade caramels, the most delicious European chocolates, and, of course, Agrimontana pistachio paste straight from the beautiful volcanic shores of Sicily.  Plus when you make your ice cream yourself, you know exactly what’s in there– no ingredients you can’t pronounce.  You deserve it. Get yourself an ice cream machine and have it in a freshly made, still warm waffle cone (conveniently made with the leftover egg whites from your yolk extravaganza making the ice cream).  It’s bliss I tell you.  Pure bliss.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

A little note to those of you out there who don’t want to wait for your ice cream base to chill, but want ICE CREAM RIGHT NOW LEST WE DIE.

All the books tell you that you should “never churn warm ice cream base because you will get ice crystals in it.”  I have always believed this adage to be next to godliness, and I never did it.  But let me tell you (shhhh) that this pistachio base smelled SOOOOO swoonworthy that I just couldn’t wait, and I churned it right away, still warm.

And *hushes voice* I didn’t get any ice crystals. 

It was so creamy and decadent and delicious that I wanted to jump in and take a swim in it.  *However* I have a feeling that if I had used the old fashioned crank mixer, or the one where you “freeze the bowl” prior to using, my warm base would have not set up for me.  But for all my fellow ice cream cheaters out there, just know that there is a loophole here.  It took maybe 45 minutes to churn the warm base, vs. 20 for a pre-chilled base (because it took extra time to cool down), but the ice cream was divine, and I offer no apologies for digging into it early.  If God could have smelled the heavenly scent wafting out of that bowl, He would have done the same.  I know it.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

When your ice cream first finishes churning, it is kind of the consistency of soft serve.  And baby, you KNOW I had some right then and there.  hehe. Ohhhhh it was so creamy and deeeeeelicious!!!!

However, if you want nice, airy scoops, then you should let the ice cream rest in the freezer for an hour or so, to firm it up a little.

If you want to stir in some chopped pistachios (yes!!!!), then now is the time to do it– kind of fold them in while you scrape the soft serve ice cream into your freezer container, and then they will be nice and riddled through there when you dig out a scoop (or two, or three).

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

So, the million dollar question . . . how does it taste?

*Deep, satisfied, evil chuckle*

My friends, if you could combine the kiss of a beloved grandmother, the loving eyes of your favorite pet, the giggle of a baby and the breath of heaven into one single, dynamic bite . . .

This would be that bite.

I truly think it was the best ice cream (of any flavor) I have ever had in my life.  I ate the entire bowl with my eyes closed.

Bernard's Pistachio Ice Cream

Was it the whisper of the Italian pistachio, crooning love songs from the most romantic spot on earth in my ear?  Perhaps.  Was it the delight that comes with knowing I cheated the “chill your base before you churn lest ye DIEEE” rule?  Maybe.  Was it the fact that I had to go to the ends of the earth to find this Agrimontana pistachio paste, and this, therefore, was the pinnacle of my ice cream making success?  Might be.  Was it delicious?

An emphatic yes.  Ohhhhh yes.

Make this pistachio ice cream.  Use the Sicilian Agrimontana pistachio paste.  Close your eyes and taste heaven.

And all of heaven will smile with you.

You did it.  And I’m just so proud of you.



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