I've been keeping a secret: All summer long I've been making ice cream, almost once a week. (And, believe me, I have the extra poundage to prove it.)
For Mother's Day, my daughter Amy gave me the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer and I've had a ball experimenting. I think of all the desserts in the whole wide world, ice cream -- well, well-made ice cream -- has to be the best treat. Really. Forget my other favorites: cheesecake, apple crisp, German chocolate cake, pecan pie. All very good, of course, but nothing beats really good ice cream.
To assure myself of success right out of the chute, the first ice cream I made was straight out of the manufacturer's book. It was caramel nut ice cream. And it was very good. How could it not be? It had sweetened condensed milk, cream, dry pudding mix and a jar of caramel topping in it! (Now you understand the weight gain!)
Then I tried a plain vanilla ice cream a couple times, using pretty much the same recipe. But I was getting a mite bolder and decided to add my own touch -- a bit of cinnamon and some chocolate chips to one batch. That didn't suit Mr. Rosemary. After one bite he said, "What's that funny taste?" Not "Hmmm. That's good. What's in there?" No, something funny.
But the grandkids ate it. (And it was good.)
And then I made cookie dough ice cream from The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook. An indubitable success. Outstanding. Everyone liked it. Me. Mr. Rosemary. And the grandkids.
But the ice cream flavor I really wanted to make was pistachio. My all-time favorite ever since I was a little kid and had my first one at the Howard Johnson's, or HoJo's.
After I hunted a few recipes, I put the one I finally made on the the refrigerator door. I kept it there for a couple months to daily tease me until I finally made it. I was intimidated by the thought of curdling the eggs. Or maybe by not cooking the custard long enough. Or too long.
The more likely truth about why I procrastinated was that I didn't want to shell all the nuts. Plus, it was hard to keep a bag of nuts around. Mr. Rosemary and I both love to snack on them.
But I finally kept a stash hidden, shelled them and made a batch. And it was everything I wanted. Except the &*%$^# stuff is really difficult to photograph! So you'll just have to believe me. It was really good, really worth it.
And -- dare I say? -- even better than HoJo's.
Pistachio Nut Ice Cream
from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes about 1½ quarts
1 1/3 cups shelled pistachio nuts
¾ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
¾ cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
Grind the 1 1/3 cups of pistachios in a food processor until finely ground, but not to a paste. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the ground nuts. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for at least 30 minutes.
Strain the warm nut mixture, pressing on the nuts to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard the solids. Return the milk and cream mixture to the saucepan. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract and stir until combined.
Refrigerate until cold. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Once finished churning, fold in the ¾ cup pistachios with a rubber spatula.