I love pistachio ice cream. But I do NOT have an ice cream maker, so I make the next best thing, pistachio semifreddo.
While an ice cream can be both a dessert and a snack, I tend to look at a semifreddo only as a dessert. So, since I want it to be a full-blown dessert, I serve mine with chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce actually freezes on top of the semifreddo, adding a bit of a crunch.
I have seen recipes of semifreddo (or even panna cotta) where they just mix the flavor (be it fruits or nuts) with the cream for a few minutes. This has always frustrated me because the flavor does not really get infused in the cream. From my experience, you need to leave it with the cream for at least 30 minutes, even better if you heat up the cream a bit.
For this recipe, toasting the pistachio nuts intensifies the flavor even more.
A bit of a segue (not really). The best pistachio ice cream I’ve had are those claiming to be made with ‘Sicilian Pistachios’. The pistachios are considerably bigger in size, so you don’t just get pleasantly surprised when you start eating it, you actually see the bits in the ice cream, adding to your anticipation :-). However, when we finally got to visit Sicily last year, I was told that it could not have come from Sicily because their pistachio production is just enough for local consumption. Ooppss! Does not make a difference to me, seeing ‘Sicilian Pistachios’ in my ice cream has not failed me so far :-).
- 1 cup shelled pistachios (+1/4 cup more for serving)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
Toast the unshelled pistachios and chop them coarsely.
Combine the 1 cup of chopped pistachios with the heavy cream. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
Remove the pistachios from the cream by a cheesecloth or a strainer. Put the cream back in the refrigerator to chill it. (Alternatively, put the cream in the freezer, but make sure you watch it carefully, to not make it set, just chill!)
Beat the egg whites in a bowl then slowly mix the sugar with it, a little at a time. Once all the sugar is in the bowl, increase the mixing speed until the egg whites become stiff and glossy.
In another bowl, combine the almond extract with the chilled heavy cream. Beat the cream until you see soft peaks.
Fold the stiff egg whites into the beaten heavy cream gently. Fold in the chopped pistachios as well (the ones that were taken out of the cream earlier).
Mix all gently, but thoroughly.
Pour into your molds or tins. For this recipe, I either use 10 of the semi-sphere molds (as shown in the picture) or a 2 lb tin.
Freeze for at least 4 hours and then serve. Top with some of the remaining toasted, chopped pistachios.
- Please make sure that you put a plastic wrap on top of the mixture or that you enclose it in an aluminum foil before you put it in the freezer. I find that this keeps ice from forming on top of the semifreddo.