After ogling the pistachio gelato recipe at Leite's Culinaria (see link) for a while, I finally tried making it this past weekend. Product is pictured below. Overall, I would say that my friends and I enjoyed the result, but this recipe isn't close enough to what I'm looking for and had a few hiccups that I thought I'd share. Am wanting to refine my recipe or find another, so see questions at bottom...
Since I have no experience making nut-based ice creams, I felt compelled to follow this recipe pretty closely. Only changes were that I used half and half instead of half cream/half milk and 6 extra large yolks instead of 7 large. I was very tempted to reduce the sugar to 3/4 c., but was worried that the bland nuts might need that extra dose of sugar so obeyed.
I used my KA stand mixer for the first time for ice cream making, and it whisked the yolks w/ sugar beautifully and also made adding the scalded dairy (very slowly per nooodles rec) easier since I didn't have to whisk w/ one hand. I followed the instructions to a "T", except just let cool naturally before putting in fridge overnight. I like using temperature (175F), as well as visuals, to know when to take off heat. It was really important to let the nuts steep overnight to release their flavor. Like the avocado ice cream I once made, the pale gray-green color that it transformed into wasn't the prettiest, but no biggie as long as it tasted good.
Here come my complaints: The part that I hated most about this recipe was straining out the ground nutmeat, both b/c it was slow and seemed like a waste. Also seemed like I had less liquid since the strained nuts had absorbed some of it. The other problems were that, as I feared, it was a tad too sweet. I had to keep on adding pinches of salt to counterbalance the sugar. Then I noticed that after it had steeped, it had a slightly bitter flavor. Hmmm...even though my nuts were shelled (I used the pistachio nutmeats from TJ's), there was some residual skin that I didn't think to blanch and remove and the recipe didn't note that. The base didn't taste ruined, just had a slightly bitter edge.
Given all the yolks, rich dairy, and sugar, the custard base was really rich and thick. It set up quickly in my machine, but I continued churning for about 25 min. total to fluff it up a bit since it was too dense for me (and I like dense!). It could have been eaten immediately post-churning but I froze for few hours. Flavor was distinctly of pistachio but I craved a deeper flavor and wondered if toasting the nuts slightly to release oils would have been better. Texture was very similar to gelato; dense, sorta chewy, very rich...actually too rich for me. This confirmed my preference for less sugar and yolks. The yolks do give it more chewy texture, so for vanilla gelato, I might up my yolks and reduce my dairy fat. Bitterness was still present, but I actually thought it worked ok against the sugar and salt, but will change for next time. Scooped nicely, slow to melt, no ice crystals even next day.
Thanks if you've made it this far...now I have some questions:
1. Anyone have a pistachio ice cream/gelato recipe that's less rich and that doesn't strain out nuts?
2. Should I toast nuts next time? Does toasting alone help to remove thin brown skin or do I have to blanch?