Pistachio, Orange Scented Vanilla Bean & Cherry Gelato Recipe

Pistachio, Orange Scented Vanilla Bean & Cherry Gelato Recipe

Last week I celebrated National Ice Cream Day with a classic vanilla bean ice cream recipe and this week I’m moving over to gelato. In the frozen treats world they are apples and oranges and I like both in their respective categories.

Ice Cream VS Gelato

For one, ice cream is made with cream and gelato is made with milk, which also means it has less fat. Less fat means I can eat more right? Well as long as you stick to quality ingredients and portion control I’m going to say indulge in both. Ice cream also has a lot of air whipped into it. The fluffier it is and faster it melts the poorer the quality. Premium ice creams will have less air and good quality gelato has no added air besides the air that is incorporated during the churning process. Last but not least, ice cream is served in a scoop and gelato is not. Gelato is rich, creamy and dense and never a scoop.

I recently got the new to the market Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Maker from Call the Kettle Black! It’s a beautiful machine! I featured their Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker last week and both worked well, but this gelato maker is for more professional use. Both machines make ice cream and gelato, but the gelato maker has a built in compressor so it doesn’t require freezing of the bowl and you can continuously make flavours.

The Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Maker comes with 2 paddle attachments, one for ice cream and the other for gelato. As I mentioned in the introduction gelato doesn’t incorporate air, so the paddles affect the texture of the final product.


**For today only (Friday July 27, 2012) Call the Kettle Black is giving $20 off the Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker (2 quarts) and the NEW Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Maker if you use the code word “Sorbetto“. This is an in-store offer only – see their locations here. Spread the word, spread the joy because we all scream for ice cream… and gelato!

Pistachio, Orange Scented Vanilla Bean & Cherry Gelato Recipe

The Inspiration

Pistachio + Vanilla Beans + Orange + Cherry

The Finale

Pistachio would definitely be in my top 3 favourite flavours for desserts. If it’s in a cookies, cake, ice cream or gelato, I want it. Pistachios are expensive and the majority of pistachio desserts I have tried are disappointing. Most of the time it’s all filler, colouring, or pistachio flavoured extracts and that just never does the pistachio any justice. Although it’s an excellent flavour on its own I decided to add some ingredients especially with cherries being in season.

This recipe is actually egg-free and instead of egg yolks it uses cornstarch. Don’t let that scare you. It’s not a short cut. Authentic gelato in Southern Italy, Sicily to be specific, uses cornstarch as the stabilizer whereas Rome would use egg yolks. Cornstarch soaks up water which prevents crystallization and gives gelato that creamy consistency. Eggs will do the same, but in a different manner. (For more see Mark Bittman, NY Times).

I stressed my love for custard based ice creams in my National Ice Cream Day post, but I have to admit that non-custard based recipes are faster and easier. Those are not the convincing factors for me though, the convincing factor would be if it actually made it taste better or lend itself towards a better texture. And in the case of pistachio, I think it might have. I still have to try the custard based method to compare, but the cornstach based recipe was intended to showcase the flavour of the pistachio more, without the flavour of the eggs getting in the way. I decided to try it out.

I used a premium Sicilian pistachio paste from Italy to make this so I really wanted to taste the pure natural flavour of that. The original recipe called for 40% pistachios in the paste and I went for 100%. I ended up using less pistachio paste and the flavour really translated. Since pistachio paste is quite buttery and thick (like peanut butter) it made the base thicker and richer so it was almost the texture of custard by the time it went into the machine anyway. The result? Custard what? It is a bit icier, but it allows the pistachio to be the star of the show.

About 1 quart (1l)

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)


  • 2 cups (½ liter) whole milk (I prefer Avalon milk)
  • 1/3 cup (65 gr) sugar (I use **vanilla sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons (16 gr) cornstarch (also known as corn flour)
  • 1/3 cup (80g) unsweetened 100% Sicilian pistachio paste (I prefer Marullo)
    (If you have time to make your own, by all means)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise ( I prefer Mexican)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed no pulp orange juice
  • 1/3 cup Pitted and quartered cherries
  • 1/3 cup toasted unsalted pistachio pieces (optional)


1. Make a slurry by mixing the 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch, mixing until the starch is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

2. Heat the rest of the milk in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar. Add salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk.

3. When it almost starts to boil, stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook at gentle simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add orange zest.

4. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl, and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight. Let vanilla bean infuse.

5. Once chilled, remove the vanilla beans. Whisk in the pistachio paste and orange juice until smooth.

6. Freeze the gelato in your Cuisinart Ice Cream and Gelato Maker machine according to the instructions. The machine actually has a 10-minute “Keep Cool” feature which keeps the ice cream or gelato cool after the timer has gone off and the machine stops. I loved that feature!

7. Add cherries and pistachio pieces at the end. The cherries will freeze so cut them small or they might be hard to bite.

**Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream or gelato making.

You can also leave out the cherries and orange and you’ll just have a vanilla bean and pistachio gelato.


  • Nicole Dafoe says:

    Yum I want this machine!! =) Mmmmmm looks amazing!! I think I need to come up with a pistachio cake recipe!!

  • Eva Choy says:

    May I ask you where did you get the marullo pistachio paste. Is it available in Vancouver. Or how did you find it.

  • Karin says:

    The serving temperature of gelato is also higher than ice cream.

    Was the machine super noisy? I’ve read it’s as noisy as a hairdryer and that the machine needs to run for 40 minutes — not sure if I can deal with that!

  • Mijune says:

    @Kirin – yes I forgot to mention serving temperature! Ice cream colder so it needs a bit more sugar or you can’t taste anything 🙂 Thank you for reminder. It makes as much noise as the Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker. Yes, it needs 40 minutes to run since it doesn’t require the bowl to refreeze and uses the compressor to freeze. The Pure Indulgence takes 25-35 min. depending on what texture you’re looking for. I admit, less noise wouldn’t be bad, but it’s less than a high speed blender and high speed food processor/juicer. It runs for longer, but I don’t mind. 🙂

  • Thanks for the info! I’m using the Donvier hand cranked ice cream maker (old fashioned, I know!) and am thinking of getting an ice cream maker with a compressor. That way I can make batch after batch of ice cream without having to wait 24 hours for the freezer bowl to re-freeze. Your pistachio gelato looks amazing by the way!

  • Mijune says:

    @Karin – thanks Karin! Personally I really like the compressor one (it’s the “new and improved”)… however the Pure Indulgence Ice Cream Maker is about $200 less, so it depends on budget and purpose as well. Let me know which one you end up getting! They’re both professional quality for the advanced home cook! 🙂

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