Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rosewater and Pistachio Ice Cream

Still on my Middle Eastern kick--which, apparently, I've passed onto my daughter, Bryn. The rosewater ice cream caught her eye in that Persian grocery store (see my entry on groceries)...we came home with the rosewater that day. We were back at that same store this weekend, and when she asked about buying the ice cream? I said we had to make it. Of course, when we got home, I realized the rosewater was about the only thing we had in the cupboard that we needed. I didn't have enough eggs, whole milk, cream or pistachios. So yesterday, I bought the rest of the ingredients, hauled out the trusty Cuisinart Ice Cream maker I bought at Costco last year and created today's indulgence.

This is the real deal. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the flecks of saffron and the pieces of pistachio....

I had to make a custard with 6 yolks mixed with sugar and cream heated with saffron threads--cook it til thickened (and I made sure it heated to at least 160 degrees, which makes raw egg safe). I cooled it in an "ice bath." (Here's a professional culinary clue: have the ice bath ready BEFORE you need it. Otherwise, you might be calling your daughter to haul out the entire bin of ice from the the freezer and so you can place the bowl on top of all that ice. Not that I would know anything about that or anything..) I had to shell a ton of pistachios, because the only unsalted ones I was able to find came shell-on. Chop the pistachios, mix into cooled, strained custard. Freeze and eat.

Rosewater ice cream may be a little odd to Americans...I don't think our taste buds equate foods with the floral, perfume-y scent and flavor of this ice cream, but it's lovely. I like mine better than some I've tasted in the past, although I'm not sure why--I do think maybe the richness of the yolks complements the heady rose flavors better than those others (I've also seen a place that carries rose sorbet. I might have to try that, too..).

Here's my recipe adapted a bit from several recipes I found on the web...

1 cup cream
1/2 cup half and half
1 heaping teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 yolks
1 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup rosewater
1 cup pistachios, crushed to small pieces

Before starting, ready and ice bath by placing ice and water into a container large enough to hold the bowl you will be using to make the custard in...

1. Heat cream, half and half, saffron and vanilla to boiling. While that is coming to the boil, whisk yolks with sugar in a metal bowl.
2. Pour hot cream mixture into yolks in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while. Don't stop whisking. Let it cool a bit by whisking for another 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Bring pot of water to simmer. Place bowl with custard over the simmering water and cook until thickened while continuing to whisk NON STOP (you don't want the yolks to curdle). Cook until thickened and a thermometer registers at least 160 degrees. Remove from heat and place bowl in waiting ice bath. Whisk until the custard is no longer warm.
4. Cool custard in refrigerator (overnight is best; I cooled it for about an hour because we wanted to eat the ice cream NOW.) When you are ready to make the ice cream, Strain the custard, stir in the pistachios and pour all into ice cream maker; freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Note: The easiest way to crush the pistachios is to place them in a re-sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. No chopping required.


Aaliyah said...

This is great ice cream. I had this quite a few times when I lived in Houston, Texas. There was a great place to eat called Darbands and next door we found the ice cream.

My husband is Lebanese and actually knows quite a bit about sweets that come from different areas. Go figure.

Anyhow, it was wonderful and I loved every bite. I like how a lot of Middle Eastern Sweets incorporate the use of Rose and Orange Water.

I am glad you liked it and I will see if I can get some over here where I live. We have the local type ice creams which I actually prefer to my old Hersheys' Ice Cream in Upstate NY.


Denise Reynolds said...

I have some Bulgarian rose water in my pantry. I'll have to try this. I have the same ice cream maker you use.

I've found that custard-based ice creams do best when the base is chilled overnight, which means you can skip the ice bath. The last batch I made was a custard-based buttermilk ice cream that used a full DOZEN egg yolks. It was amazing! Recipe here: http://smittenkitchen.com/2009/04/buttermilk-ice-cream/

I have loved pistachios since I was a little girl. Back then they were only available in the red-dyed variety, but that did not deter me from consuming pounds of them. =)

Thanks for the recipe, Barb.