This is my favorite ice cream flavor in all the land with swirls of creamy pistachio butter, crunchy bits of caramelized pistachios and a mountain of vibrant green pistachio kunafa…is just the ultimate summer indulgence with a Middle Eastern flair.
FOR THE CARAMELIZED PISTACHIOS:
- 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) water
- 1/2 cup (57g) pistachios, shelled
- A pinch of ground cinnamon
FOR THE SCENTED ESHTA ICE CREAM:
- 1 cup (227g) fresh eshta/ ashta (Arabic clotted cream)*
- 1 (397g) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water (more or less according to taste)
- 1 teaspoon rose water (more or less according to taste)
- 2 cups (473ml) heavy whipping cream, very cold
- 1/3 cup (85g) pistachio butter*
FOR THE PISTACHIO KUNAFA TOPPING:
- 125g kunafa (Kadaif/kataifi) dough, frozen or fresh
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon (62g) unsalted butter
- 5 tablespoons (72g) powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup (70g) pistachios, finely ground
- 3 tablespoons pistachios, sliced or chopped
FOR GARNISH: (OPTIONAL)
- 2 tablespoons pink-tinted Sugar Syrup*
- Sugared rose petals
TO MAKE THE CARAMELIZED PISTACHIOS:
- In a small light-colored saucepan, combine together the sugar and water without stirring. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar (avoid stirring). Allow the mixture to come to a boil, then cover the saucepan for about 1 minute; the condensation will wash down any sugar crystals that might’ve gathered on the sides, which will reduce the chance of crystallization. Remove the cover, and continue to cook until it reaches an amber color.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately stir in the pistachios and pinch of cinnamon until evenly coated.
- Transfer the caramelized pistachios to a silicon mat or parchment paper and spread into an even layer. Allow to cool completely.
- Once cooled, break up the caramelized nuts with your hands into little chunks or coarsely chop with a knife.
TO MAKE THE SCENTED ESHTA ICE CREAM:
- Line a loaf pan (I used a 9X5″) with parchment paper or plastic wrap making sure the entire surface is covered including the corners of the pan
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eshta, sweetened condensed milk, rose and orange blossom water until smooth and well combined. Set aside
- In a chilled mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat.
- With a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the sweetened condensed milk/eshta mixture, until the color is even and no streaks remain.
- Fold in the cooled caramelized nuts. Using a piping bag, pipe about quarter the amount of pistachio butter in random lines over the surface of the mixture (please refer to video). Do not mix it in.
- Pour one-third of the ice cream mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Drizzle the surface with half of the pistachio butter, and use a skewer to swirl it through, then top with the second third of the ice cream. Drizzle with the remaining pistachio butter, swirling once more with the skewer, and finally top with the reaming ice cream mixture. Smooth out the top and cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the surface, then freeze until firm, at least 6 hours; better overnight. If you have leftover ice cream mixture, you can pour it into ice cream bar molds for a different variation. Meanwhile, prepare the Pistachio Kunafa.
TO MAKE THE PISTACHIO KUNAFA TOPPING:
- While the kunafa is still frozen, break it between your hands to crumble into small pieces. Kunafa shreds easiest when frozen.
- In a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter until melted. Add in the shredded kunafa and stir well until evenly coated with the butter. It will be difficult to stir at first, but will loosen up as the kunafa starts to toast. Continue stirring constantly, being careful not to get any burn marks, until the kunafa is evenly lightly golden in color and is very crunchy; about 5 minutes. Do not get it too dark so the green color of the pistachios can show through.
- Add in the powdered sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add in the ground and sliced pistachios and stir until homogenous and well combined; the longer you stir the greener the color will get. Transfer the kunafa crumbs to a bowl and allow to cool completely before using. Cooled kunafa will keep well in a zipperlock bag, in the freezer for about a month.
- Remove the ice cream pan from the freezer, peel the plastic wrap from over the surface, then invert onto a serving platter. Peel off the parchment or plastic lining and discard.
- Pour on the pink sugar syrup, if using. Top with the pistachio kunafa, then garnish with sugared rose petals if desired.
- Cut into slices and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep for about a month in the freezer.
- For the popsicle variation: unmold the ice cream, then press on the pistachio kunafa to coat.
- Alternatively, for an easier variation, you can freeze the ice cream mixture in a bowl and serve right from it. Once frozen, just top with the pistachio kunafa and you’re good to go! No lining pans, no unmolding…simple.
- Eshta (ashta) may be substituted with mascarpone cheese.
- Pistachio butter is sold, ready-made in supermarkets, although you can make it at home. I used Abu Auf brand from Abu Auf stores in Egypt.
- I found that the sugar syrup, though pretty, made the ice cream cake sweeter than I would’ve liked. I’d personally skip it the next time around, but it’s your call.
- These are the ice cream bar molds I used.