Certain situations warrant serious culinary splurges. There are plenty of other days for restraint, and sometimes unique circumstances mean overdoing it is the only logical choice. Years ago on one of the last days of our honeymoon in Italy, J. and I were walking the streets of Capri after a lovely dinner. We had already delighted in dessert at the restaurant, but on our stroll we passed by a small gelato shop making waffle cones. That fresh baked scent meant a second dessert was impossible to refuse. The creamy gelato started to melt the moment it hit the lingering warmth of the cone. The indulgence was beyond worth it.
Since then I have a personal rule if ever in Italy—gelato twice a day is an absolute must. My justification is all the walking that goes along with sightseeing, and there is no such thing as gelato outside Italy. No matter what anyone says, ice cream in all other locales, no matter its moniker, is a treat, but it is not gelato. My go-to flavors are stracciatella, also known as chocolate chip, and green-tinted pistachio. I made pistachio chip ice cream that was an ode to my two favorites. The intermingling crunch of chocolate chunks and pistachios gave the rich ice cream a satisfying and addictive bite.
Pistachio Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
Makes about 1 quart
3/4 cups shelled unsalted pistachios
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.
Spread the pistachios in a single layer on the sheet pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes until toasted and fragrant. Transfer 1/2 cup pistachios to a food processor and grind into a paste. Set aside the remaining pistachios.
In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon milk and the cornstarch.
In a large bowl, whisk together the pistachio paste, cream cheese and salt.
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, combine the remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil for 1 minute.
Slowly pour the hot milk into the large bowl with the pistachio and cream cheese paste and whisk to combine.
Cool the mixture over an ice bath and stir in the almond extract. Refrigerate until cooled completely.
Before churning the ice cream, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water stirring frequently until it is fully melted. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second blasts stirring to distribute the heat.)
Churn in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. In the final moments of churning, slowly pour the chocolate in a fine stream. When churning has finished, break up the chocolate with a spatula as necessary and stir in the remaining pistachios. Freeze the ice cream in an airtight container to allow it to harden before serving.