Gelato. A wonderful gift from Italians. 25 years ago I had my first bite of honest to goodness, real gelato at a shop in Rome, right by the Pantheon. It was a religious experience! Now, while I can’t get the exact consistency of that yummy gelato I had back then (it must be something about Italy that brings out the best in cream, eggs, and sugar), I found a recipe that comes so darned close that I felt I was back in that sunny square, enjoying my first bite of this heavenly dessert. Pistachios and orange zest give this gelato a light, bright flavor that is a perfect ending for an early spring meal.
I found the recipe I’m sharing with you today in one of my absolute favorite cookbooks – Williams Sonoma Mediterranean Cookbook. I have probably used this cookbook more than any other in my library. It has fantastic recipes for appetizers, main dishes, and desserts.
- 1 cup unsalted, raw pistachios
- 1 TBSP orange zest
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pistachios on a baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until pistachios begin to toast up. Cool and rough chop.
In a sauce pan combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, orange zest and 1/2 cup of the chopped pistachios. Heat the milk mixture over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and let it rest for one hour.
Strain the milk mixture and return the liquid to the sauce pan. Discard the orange zest and pistachios. Heat on low to a simmer. Beat egg yolks in a bowl. Ladle a 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk quickly to temper the eggs. Add the egg mixture to the rest of the milk and simmer, but do not boil until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon – about 5 minutes. STIR CONSTANTLY. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl – pour through a strainer to collect any residual zest or egg. When the mixture has cooled someone, cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic to the surface to prevent it from forming a skin. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to one day until very cold.
Prepare your ice cream maker according to directions. Add the vanilla and almond extract, along with the 1/2 cup of pistachios to the milk mixture. Pour into ice cream maker and process. You can serve it immediately, or return to the freezer to harden further after it finishes in the ice cream maker.