Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Vegan Pistachio Gelato: a novel.
DID YOU HEAR THAT, INTERNET? VEGAN. PISTACHIO. GELATO. I was an ice cream fiend in my pregan days. Some of my favorite memories include stopping at Thrifty's with my mom or grandma and getting a huge cone of chocolate brownie ice cream after a day of thrift shopping or the countless nights in high school that I spent hanging out with a bunch of friends at Coldstone demolishing a 'love it' size bowl of cake batter ice cream with rainbow sprinkles. I wasn't introduced to pistachio flavored..anything until one Christmas when my mother decided to make a pistachio cheesecake for dessert. The general reaction was confusion. Pistachio cheesecake? All I knew about pistachios was that my grandpa got a huge bag of them for Christmas from my uncle EVERY YEAR (still does) and I would always sneak a handful once he opened them. Despite my trepidation, I tried the pale green dessert and something in my taste buds changed forever. IT WAS MAGICAL. It's been years since I last had a bite of one but I can still remember it perfectly. Smooth, creamy, tart cheesecake with a rich, nutty flavor. Buttery chocolate graham crust. Chocolate shavings, toasted pistachios and perfectly piped, perfectly rich, homemade whipped cream on top. After that I needed pistachio anything. Pudding. Cookies. Ice cream. You name it, I ate it.
Cut to vegan days. Pistachio flavored delights had left me forever. I tried pudding, cookies, and cupcakes and they all failed spectacularly. I had given up hope until just a few days ago when an ice cream maker entered our home and my mother announced she was making pistachio gelato. I was determined to make a vegan version.
Veganizing especially dairy-ladden recipes is always like playing with fire and usually ends in disaster. I was also extra cautious because pistachios happen to be $14 a pound at Sunflower, er Sprouts. Imagine the stars in my eyes when I came across David Lebovitz's recipe for pistachio gelato WITH NO EGGS. It was love at first sight and I just knew it would work. And it did. It's perfect. Rich and creamy and packing a serious pistachio punch. Mission success.
I subbed full fat coconut milk to up the richness but I'm sure any other milk will do.
I didn't even bother searching for 'Bronte Crema di Pistacchio' because Vegan Pie In The Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero happens to have a pistachio paste recipe! I was so excited when Candice gave me this book for Christmas and even more so when I learned there is a pistachio pudding pie recipe. That's next on my list. Here is their recipe for pistachio paste:
1 C raw, shelled pistachios
1 T almond or grapeseed oil (I used canola but I think any light tasting oil will do)
2-3 T powdered sugar
Pulse pistachios and oil in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Be warned this takes forever. I had to add some water to it because the mixture kept clumping up and getting stuck. Once you get it as smooth as possible, add in the powdered sugar until a paste is formed. Also know that it is sticky and thick as hell. I about broke an arm trying to whisk the paste into the cooked cornstarch mixture so I might suggest using a handheld mixer if you want it to be creamy. I didn't mind the lumps and bumps because I added some chopped, toasted pistachios to it after I took it out of the ice cream maker, anyway.