Pistachio Squared

It took a long, long, long time for Brian to make a pistachio ice cream. So long, in fact, that when it appeared, the sandwich board outside proclaimed: “Finally!” Growing up, Brian hated nuts. And pistachios most of all. Anything crunchy and nutty was out of the question. He just couldn’t bring himself to spend the money or the time on a flavor of ice cream he knew he wouldn’t like. But Jackie, Lauren, and one out of every three customers kept badgering him. So eventually, almost two years after opening the shop, he relented. Of course, now it’s his new favorite flavor, and to Brian’s chagrin there’s a whole range of nut flavors at the shop (enough to fill this chapter!). But in Brian’s defense, that often happens with cooking. When we use an ingredient ourselves, when we craft something with our own hands, we gain a new appreciation for it. We see the food for the first time. With this recipe, we decided to double up on the creamy nuttiness of pistachios, whisking pistachio paste into the ice cream itself, and adding bits and pieces of homemade brown sugar–pistachio brittle.

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For the Pistachio Ice Cream

For the Pistachio Brittle

  • Butter for the baking sheet
  • 12 ounces (340 g) pistachios, shelled
  • ½ cup (120 ml) golden syrup
  • ½ cup (100 g) organic cane sugar
  • ½ cup (110 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (120 g) unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


  1. Make the pistachio ice cream: Prepare Walt’s Dream according to the recipe directions. After cooling the base in the ice bath and straining it, stir in the pistachio paste. Use a hand mixer or whisk to combine until smooth. Transfer the base to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the pistachio brittle: Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Butter a 12-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Spread the pistachios over the prepared baking sheet and toast them for 10 minutes, until they just begin to change color. Let cool, then transfer the pistachios to a bowl and set aside. Reserve the prepared baking sheet for the brittle.

  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar, salt, butter, and ¼ cup (60 ml) water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the ingredients are combined and the sugar has dissolved, then continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 305°F (150°C).
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pistachios and baking soda. Whisk vigorously for a few moments to combine. Move quickly, as the mixture will begin to set as the temperature drops. Spread the mixture evenly across the prepared baking sheet. Let cool until brittle, about 2 hours.
  5. Chop the brittle into bite-size pieces and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.
  6. Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, folding in the pistachio brittle pieces as you do. Use as much of the brittle as you want; you won’t necessarily need the whole batch. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.