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Pistachio Praline Cherry Ice Cream

Pistachio Praline Cherry Ice Cream

I do believe I’ve found my favorite ice cream.  At least, until I make the next one.  Still though, this one has just grabbed the #1 spot, and will definitely stay up in my top five favorite ice creams of all time.  Any upcoming contenders will have to fight hard to knock this one off the top of the heap!  I mean, come on--pistachio nut brittle?  Made into a paste?  Whisked right into the ice cream? I’m in love.


While thinking about what kind of ice cream to make next for Scoopapalooza, I had pistachio in mind.  Since cherries are in season, it was a natural progression to add those in, too.  Though I love the the pure flavor of pistachio ice cream--so light and fresh, and pretty much perfect--I wanted to do a twist on the classic.   I just can’t leave well enough alone when it comes to my ice cream recipes.  At least, not for now.  I’m having way too much fun experimenting!

I was researching pistachio ice cream recipes, and many of them infuse the flavor of the nuts right into the ice cream base.  Some soak the nuts (even ground nuts) in the base for a length of time, then strain them out and continue from there.  I saw one that had ground nuts added in and left in there to be a part of the finished recipe.  Reviews were that while the flavor of that one was incredible, it wasn’t smooth.  It was gritty from all of the nut pieces.  I wanted creamy, but I needed a way to infuse the ice cream to give you a full on pistachio experience.

Pistachio Praline Cherry Ice Cream

So.  I had a flash of brilliance.  I think so, anyway!  I remembered making a pistachio praline brittle for a Daring Bakers Challenge.   It was amazing!  The cake was supposed to be made with hazelnuts, but--we were hazelnutted* out at the time, so I’d decided to go with pistachios.  (*Heck yes, that’s a real word.) We had to make a nut praline, which in this case is a powder made by grinding up sugar coated nuts--think nut brittle, not the creamy, chewier ones usually found in the South.  Once you grind the brittle to a fine powder in the food processor, let it keep going, and it turns into a lovely, smooth paste, much like a nut butter.  It’s not hard to make at all.  It takes a little time, though, because you have to wait for the sugar to start melting.  Over low heat.  Which takes time.  And watched sugar never melts.  So they say.   Once the brittle is done, it cools quickly, and the paste is super fast to make.  You DO however, need a food processor to make the paste, unless you have something like a Super-Mega Vita Mix. 

Once you have the paste, it gets whisked right into the ice cream base.  Yeah, this is where the full on flavor comes in!  The brittle makes just over 1/2 cup of nut paste, and I used all of it.  ALL of it.  Except for the 4 or 5 or 6 bites that I ate before I measured it out.  In the interest of taste testing, of course.  Ha! 

Pistachio Praline Cherry Ice Cream

Ice Cream

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup half and half
Generous 1/2 cup of Pistachio Praline Paste (Recipe below)
Generous 1/2 cup of pistachios
Approx 1/2 cup fresh, pitted cherries--diced (optional)

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl for 1-2 minutes.
Add the sugar a little at a time, whisking after each addition, then continue to whisk for about a minute more.
Pour in the cream and half & half, whisk to blend.
Pour about 1 cup of the cream mixture into a separate bowl and add the pistachio paste.  Carefully whisk until it's all incorporated, then add this back to the rest and mix to combine.
Keep this mixture cold until you're ready to use it.
Freeze according to manufacturers guidelines.  In the last few minutes of freezing, add the nuts and cherries. 
Mine took a little longer to freeze up in the machine, but it was a very warm day, and the paste is stirred in at room temp.  So chilling before freezing may be a good idea in this case.
Transfer to an airtight container and let the ice cream freeze for at least a few more hours, but overnight is best. 

Pistachio Praline Paste
1 cup pistachios (I used dry roasted and unsalted-cheap at Trader Joe's if you've got one nearby!
2/3 cup Sugar

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly butter the parchment.
Pour the sugar in a heavy 10-12 inch skillet, and heat it over low heat for about 20 minutes.
The sugar should start melting around this time.  If you're impatient like me, you can turn the heat up a little, but watch it carefully.
Swirl the pan around if the sugar seems to be getting too dark.
If the sugar isn't melting in the center, stir it just a but with a wooden spoon.  Whatever you do, don’t use plastic spoons!
When the sugar is all melted and caramel colored, remove from heat and stir in the nuts, again--using a wooden spoon.
Return the pan to low heat and stir to coat the nuts.
Heat until the caramel starts to bubble.
PLEASE remember that this is extremely hot, so be careful.
Pour it out on to the parchment, and separate the big clumps.  Let it cool completely.
When it's cooled, break the brittle into pieces and add it to your food processor.  (Of course, you should reserve a few pieces just to eat!)
Pulse the brittle until it's a fine powder.  Continue processing until the powder starts to come together in a smooth paste.  This will take a few minutes. 
Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

  • The flavor of this one is like a cross between your favorite pistachio ice cream, and a deep caramel.  Sweet, but not too sweet. 
  • It’s truly creamy--no grit from ground nuts!  This has the mouth feel of a premium ice cream.  You don’t even need to soften it to scoop it.  It scoops like a dream! 
  • I only had a small amount of cherries, so I took about 2 cups of the just frozen ice cream, and added the cherries and some nuts to that.  I love that version, but the one without them is equally as wonderful--so don’t sweat it if you don’t have cherries!
  • While the directions seem wordy and long, this is really a very simple ice cream to make.  Don’t be scared off, because you will be rewarded with a truly heavenly ice cream.   The most time you’ll spend on this is waiting for the sugar to melt, and the ice cream to freeze.  That’s not hands on work.
  • My husband and #1 Taste Tester has declared this THE best pistachio ice cream he’s ever had.  And he’s tried a lot!
  • Just like my Peanut Butter Candied Bacon Ice CreamYou could also rule the world with this one, I swear.


Pistachio Praline Cherry Ice Cream 

These two photos are from that Daring Bakers post I mentioned above.  I didn’t feel the need to photograph them again this time.  I will say, though, that my praline--or brittle--came out darker this time, and not as green, so that’s why the ice cream has no green hue.  No matter, because I could still eat the brittle or nut paste as-is.  They’re that good.  So if you’ve never made a nut brittle or praline paste--try it!  Add a new skill to your repertoire and impress yourself, and your friends.  

 Pistachio Praline Again, this tastes better than it looks. Honest! ;) Like green Nutella. Ha!

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Reader Comments (38)

pistachio! my favourite nut. YUM. this looks real good. and ugh, i need tubs and tubs of this to cool me off and send me to sugary ice cream heaven x

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdiva

THAT looks sooooo good! I always forget how much I love pistachio ice cream then I will have some and I am all HELL YEA!

... ;^) I will take your word that the last photo tasted better then it looked.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Thanks, Dive--this would certainly cool you off!

Heather-it's like green nutella! ;)

June 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterElle

I am dying. This looks so stinkin' good. How do you do these amazing things?!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica @ How Sweet

Thanks, Jessica! It's hours of brainstorming, but you know--thinking about ice cream isn't hard for me to do, hehe.

June 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterElle

Gah! I'm in love! That looks so spectacular, I can almost taste it through the screen!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRJ Flamingo

Thanks Renee! Do you need some screen cleaning wipes? ;)

June 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterElle

i do love this ice cream kick you are on, please keep going. will there be mint and oreo cookies in the near future? LOL

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentervanillasugar

Dawn--Sounds good! Maybe if I use local cream, that can be the local ingredient?

June 28, 2010 | Registered CommenterElle

Really. Really? Really! Oh my goodness you're killin' me, Elle! I can't decide between two different ice cream makers I've got picked out. What to do, what to do! I need to pick one soon because I've got a LOT of recipes to try thanks to you and the palooza!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterApril in CT

Maybe I should try that one - the mint's in my backyard - doesn't get much more local! ;-)

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRJ Flamingo

OMG! This looks divine! Pistachio and cherry is such a knockout combination! You've inspired me to dig out the ice cream maker!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan @ SGCC

What a great ice cream treat! Thumbs up my friend:)

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermaria

Oh wow! Adding this to my "must make" ice cream list!! I LOVE cherries in my ice cream and this looks just perfect!

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSues

Oh very, very nice. Pistachios just reached a new level of awesomeness. NIce graphic for Scoopapalooza too!

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBenjamin

Oh wow, Elle, this sounds incredibly amazing! I love everything about it!

an inspired creation, faith! it's like christmas ice cream, but suitable for devouring year-round. :)

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergrace

perhaps it might be nice if i address you by your actual name rather than one i pulled out of thin air...
sorry, elle! :)

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergrace

Ohhhh this is fantastic! Matt is such a cherry fan I have to make it for him

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkat

Now this looks fantastic. I learn something new every day and love it.

June 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergiz

I have to say I'm lovin' all the ice cream posts especially the interesting flavors. Except for one of the twins we're huge ice cream eaters and living in HOT FL we can indulge all year long.

Btw, thanks for the nudge...being a huge fan of nuts it's kinda dumb that I haven't made brittle yet.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteringrid

That does sound like a winning combination, for sure! What a clever idea with the brittle, I can almost taste the pistachios and cherries, yum!

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

This looks absolutely amazing!

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlettergirl

That looks incredible!! :-)
Check out my blog if you get a sec for the giveaway I am hosting! :-)

all this talk about ice cream causes two reactions: really want to pull out my adapter and make my own with peaches and mint or just go the lazy route and buy some!! I looove this pistachio one! in fact, I'm making a pistachio flan this week! Soo excited to bite into that!

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBren

That ice cream looks so good!

July 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChocolate Shavings

Hi everybody, I just want to say hello! How is everyone??

July 7, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrevorm6

...that would hit the spot right now.... :-)

That just looks and sounds wonderful.

July 13, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpeabody

I'm stunned and amazed that you have any left over. Your willpower is inspiring :) Seriously, Elle, this looks divine! I'm all about cherries and ice cream right now, so it's even calling my name at 8 am. Kudos!

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy I.

I think this is the best looking ice cream I've ever laid eyes on.. I bet the flavors mix together perfectly-- I wish Ben and Jerry's made something like this so I didn't have so much work!
Kitchen Scales

July 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Oh wow, that looks amazing! Gave you a stumble, must try this :)

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Oh man that is awesome! It's ice cream season, yea!

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkat

Looks absolutely amazing!! I'm getting an ice cream maker this summer, and this would be perfect as a first try :)

I am truly salivating right now. Pistachio praline sounds absolutely fantastic. Put it in ice cream and it looks like a gift from above.

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCookin' Canuck

I mean....this sounds incredible

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFeast on the Cheap

Love this flavor!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Oh Elle YUMMY! That looks totally fabulous!

May 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

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