It’s the holy grail of gelato and it took over a year of following the pistachio trail to get to this point.
Real Sicilian pistachio paste is green gold – rare and expensive AF. There’s no getting around it. Bronte Pistachios have a distinctive flavor, grow in a very small area, and are only harvested every two years. They are prized by chefs all over the world and to say that demand outpaces the supply is an understatement.
I tried every shortcut possible, from making pistachio butter to steeping nuts in milk (plus a few ‘weird’ experiments) Nothing matched the flavor and texture found in old school gelaterias. Authentic pistachio paste was needed.
Buying the real thing proved to be next to impossible. The majority of pistachio pastes are actually mostly almonds. Pistachio cream sounded promising but the best of them have a ton of sugar and the worst contain oil and fillers.
I spent 10 months hunting and the only discovery I made was a $500 chef’s size bucket of the stuff (not an option) As with all epic adventures, just as all hope was lost the solution presented itself.
Pariani 100% Pure Sicilian Pistachio Paste turned up at my local Italian importer. There were only two jars, my only regret is that I didn’t buy both of them. And no, this is not an ad.
Wasting the hard-won paste during recipe development wasn’t a big concern. The nut fat, oil, and solids are very similar to the proportions found in Peanut Butter Gelato. Same method, a few tweaks and it was good to go.
To say it was worth the effort is an understatement. The result was that elusive pistachio flavor with that slightly elastic texture that sets true Italian gelato apart from ice cream.
Recently Pariani 100% Pistachio Paste has popped up on Amazon for around $27 per jar (making this one of the most expensive gelatos I’ve made at home) It’s not available all the time. If there are other brands or sources out there I’d love to know about them!!!
Real Pistachio Gelato is the ultimate Italian gelato experience. This recipe made with Sicilian pistachios is based on techniques used actual gelaterias. Finding authentic pistachio paste is key – this is not the time for shortcuts! The extra effort is worth it, one bite will instantly transport you to the sunny coast of Sicily!
37g organic corn syrup
100g 100% pistachio paste*
627g whole milk
49g non-fat milk powder
6g tapioca starch
34g organic corn syrup
Make the pistachio cream. Put the pistachio paste into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil (or 212 degrees on a candy thermometer) immediately pour it into the mixer.
Start on low for 30 seconds then mix on high until the pistachio cream is thick and completely cool (when you touch the sides of the bowl it should be close to room temperature) Cover and refrigerate.
Combine sugar, non-fat milk powder, and tapioca starch. Mix the milk and cream in a large bowl. Whisk in the dry ingredients until there are no lumps. Thoroughly incorporate the corn syrup, being sure to scrape all of it into the bowl.
Place the mixture in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Heat until bubbles start forming around the edges but do not let it come to a full rolling boil. Keep stirring the mixture while it cooks. In the last few minutes mix a bit faster as the mixture begins to thicken.
Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the gelato to prevent a skin from forming. Put the bowl of hot gelato into an ice bath.
After the gelato has cooled, remove from the ice bath and refrigerate for 4-12 hours.
Mix pistachio cream and gelato together with an immersion blender until completely incorporated. Process the gelato in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
When it reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream (about 20-30 minutes on most machines) Scoop into a container, place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the surface and freeze until firm (4 hours minimum)
100% pistachio paste – make sure the only ingredients are pistachios and perhaps pistachio oil. Products to watch out for: pistachio ‘cream’ which has added sugars and flavorings, pistachio paste that isn’t 100% pistachio, and pistachio ‘butter’ which has a coarser texture.