I would to share the third recipe I’ve made using my recently purchased ice cream maker. I made this near the end of June and only just posting it now as I crave it, I want another scoop, another batch. I never used to like pistachio ice cream when I was young. I was turned off by the unnatural green flavour that was the usual. Later in life, I would also see some pistachio ice creams that didn’t have that colour but you also couldn’t tell what kind of ice cream it was – lacking in pistachios.
The greatest benefit to owning your own ice cream maker is making it the way you like it. I’ve made my pistachio ice cream with lots of pistachios: you know immediately what the flavour of the ice cream is, I use honey as a sweetener, and the unique spice of Mastiha from the island of Chios (pronounced HEE-Os). There’s a bit of vanilla extract, there’s three types of dairy, Greek yogurt, whole milk and evaporated milk. I like evaporated milk for that hint of sweetness and it’s a good substitute for full-fat cream.
Mastiha (mastixa, masticha, mastic) is a resin that drips off of the Pistachia lentus tree, only found on the southern part of the island of Chios. The Pistachia lentus tree is related to the pistachio and it’s use crosses culinary, health and beauty applications. The harvest of Mastiha occurs from June to September and concluded by December.
The use of mastic is prominent in Greek, Turkish and mid-eastern cuisines. It’s often found in recipes for cakes, breads, pies, creams and custards. Mastiha is used in many recipes for Tsoureki. Those of you who have tried this braided Greek Easter bread will have an idea of what mastiha tastes like. The flavour is hard to pin-down but it is unique: a slight floral bouquet, gummy in texture and taste. A little goes a long way.
Since the trees from which mastiha is harvested are related to pistachios, it seemed only natural to pair the two in this ice cream. The most famous pistachios in Greece are grown on the island of Aegina (near Athens). Pistachio trees were brought to the island from the late 19th century. Pistachios are harvested by knocking the branches with a stick or simply shaking the heck out of the tree. Both methods work, great outlet for relieving the stresses of the day.
The final component of this ice cream that I would like to expand on is the colour of the ice cream. I knew from the start that I didn’t want to use any artificial food colouring. I could have not used any colouring but I think a hint of green is expected with a pistachio ice cream. Not traditional but certainly more natural than a food die was to use some matcha powder, the stuff used to make instant green tea. A warm, creamy green colour is given to the ice cream and nothing is taken away from the ice cream’s main flavour profiles of pistachios, honey and mastiha.
Again, making ice cream is easy, you need a little imagination, follow some basic rules to producing a thick, creamy and smooth result and the rest is pure satisfaction and enjoyment. The icing on the cake is the pistachio praline…sugar, water and pistachios…an easy garnish for this wonderful, wholesome ice cream.
Pistachio Ice Cream With Mastiha (Παγωτό με φιστίκια Αιγίνης και Μαστίχα)
1 cup plain yogurt (full fat)
1 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp. of corn starch
2 cups evaporated milk (or cream if you’re feeling really decadent)
1 Tbsp. ground mastiha *
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup of shelled, unsalted and toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
3/4 – 1 cup of Greek honey
2-3 Tbsp. of matcha (powdered green tea)
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole unsalted & shelled pistachios
oil for brushing
- In a medium-sized pot, add your milk, evaporated milk/cream, corn starch, ground mastiha, vanilla extract and place over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve the dissolve the corn starch and mastiha. Stir while bring the mixture up to a scalding heat. Take off the heat.
- Add the matcha powder and then add your honey and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool and then add pistachios yogurt and mix until well-blended. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.
- In the meantime, brush a baking tray with some vegetable oil and set aside. In a medium pot, add the sugar and water over medium heat. As soon as the mixture turns to a copper colour, remove from the heat, add your pistachios and quickly stir and then empty onto your oiled baking tray. Allow to cool. When the praline has hardened, break up with a mallet and reserve in a container.
- Take your pre-chilled freezer bowl and place on your ice cream maker. Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and turn on your ice cream maker. Churn/operate for 25 minutes or as per your ice cream machine’s instrcutions. Place in a container and cover. Place in your freezer overnight to set.
- If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the refrigerated contents into a shallow container and place in the freezer (without a lid) for a 3-4 hours or until it just starts to harden. Now turn the mixture into a bowl and stir with a fork or whip with a hand mixer. Place the mixture back in your container and place in the freezer covered overnight.
- The next day, serve with some pistachio praline.
*Mastiha is bought in crystal form, small nuggets called tears. Place them in some plastic wrap in the freezer for about an hour.Now take the mastic and roll over with a rolling pin to crust the mastiha tears into a powder. Carefully remove the ground mastiha and add it to your recipe.
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