One of my best friends had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, but because she was out-of-town at the time, I couldn’t make her birthday treats until this past weekend. Since being given my ice cream maker, I’ve gone back through some of my favorite blogs to search for good ice cream recipes. When I saw this recipe, I knew that it would be perfect for her birthday. We’re both fans of gelato, and she adores pistachios. Though this gelato has an off-putting color, the taste more than makes up for it. My friend said it even tastes better than the ones she’s gotten from the store. It does have a clear pistachio flavor, and it stayed soft even after a night in the freezer.
Pistachio Gelato (slightly tweaked from 17 and Baking)
3/4 c. unsalted, shelled pistachios
3/4 c. sugar
2 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (The recipe calls for almond, but I’m not a fan.)
4 egg yolks
1. In a food processor, grind the pistachios and 1/4 c. sugar into a fine powder. Combine this powder with the milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the yolks and 1/2 c. sugar.
2. Once the milk mix boils, gradually ladle a spoonful of it into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly. Add the tempered egg mix to the saucepan and stir over medium-low heat til the custard thickens slightly. The custard should leave a clear trail on the back of a spoon when you run your finger through it. Remove the custard from the heat and strain it into a medium bowl. Refrigerate the custard til cold. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. (Mine only had to churn for 20 minutes.)
Normally for a birthday, you would make cake and ice cream, but pistachio is not an easy flavor to pair. When I asked my best friend what she wanted, she thought shortbread cookies sounded like they would go well. I went ahead and made some Scottish shortbread, and we were surprised at how well they went together. The shortbread by itself is good, though I thought it could use a touch more salt. But when topped with the gelato the combination is amazing. The shortbread gives a buttery crunch to the sweet flavor of the gelato. If you don’t believe me, you’ll just have to make some and try it for yourself. I think you’ll find it worth your while. The shortbread is very easy to make and yields about 16 cookies. Unfortunately, there are too many Scottish shortbread recipes on the internet for me to figure out where mine came from. If you recognize where it comes from, please comment with that info; I’d love to be able to attribute it.
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt (Next time I’m going to try 1/2 tsp.)
3/4 c. softened butter
1/3 c. sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. In a separate large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar on medium til light and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat til well blended. Gradually add the flour mix and beat on low til well blended.
2. Shape the dough into 1 in. balls (I used my cookie scoop to make this so much faster.), place them 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet, and flatten them with a fork. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes or til the edges are lightly browned.
People who regularly make ice cream have to find creative ways to use up leftover egg whites. My preferred use-up is to make delicious, melt-in-your-mouth meringues. This time, I’d also just picked up half a dozen meyer lemons and I’d been craving something lemony, so I decided to combine the two into one delicious recipe (the results of which are already gone). I tweaked a previous meringue recipe and really enjoyed the results. Though they didn’t scream “lemon” they were strangely addictive, not to mention a cinch to make.
Lemon-Poppy Seed Meringue (adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco)
1/2 c. room temperature egg whites (about 4)
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. poppyseeds
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a 12×17 inch pan with a silicone liner. Beat the whites on medium-low til they become opaque and frothy and begin to increase in volume, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the granulated sugar followed by the confectioner’s sugar; continue beating for 5 minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat til they become thicker and shiny, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and beat just to combine.
2. With a rubber spatula, spread the meringue evenly on the sheet; it should be about 1/4 inch thick. Bake, rotating halfway through, til fragrant and lightly golden, about 30 minutes. To test, break off a small piece, let cool 10 seconds, and taste to be sure it’s dry and crunchy throughout. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then break into pieces.
I hope you’re having a lovely week, and that you take a minute to enjoy a sweet snack.