• Summer is the season for ice cream, but it's also a time when you're at greater risk of eating contaminated desserts. (Paola Bacchia)Source: Paola Bacchia

A salted pistachio swirl winds its way through this sweet and salty ice-cream, giving it textural as well as flavour contrast. 

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Hazelnuts and chocolate are a match made in heaven and together they form the basis for a very popular Italian spread that was traditionally eaten on bread but is now found in doughnuts and pancakes practically everywhere. My niece Chiara told me about a version she ate in a gelataria in Venice last year that had salted pistachio swirled through it. It sounded so impressive that I tried to recreate it. 


  • 200 g (7 oz) hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
  • 375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) full-cream (whole) milk
  • 150 g (5½ oz/¾ cup) sugar pinch of salt
  • 375 ml (12½ fl oz/1½ cups) thickened (double/heavy) cream
  • 100 g (3½ oz) milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp vanilla essence
  • 5 egg yolks

Pistachio swirl

  • 75 g (2¾ oz) pistachios, shelled pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp honey

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Infusing time: 3 hours or overnight
Chilling time: 2 hours
Freezing time: 4 hours
You will need an ice-cream machine. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast for 12 minutes. Tip onto a clean tea towel and rub the skins off. Transfer the hazelnuts to a food processor and whizz until finely chopped.

Place the milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and stir until dissolved. Do not allow the mixture to boil. Add the chopped hazelnuts and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Set aside in the fridge to infuse for a few hours or, preferably, overnight.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just before boiling point. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and pour the cream over the chocolate. Stir gently until the chocolate has melted, then add the vanilla. Set a large strainer over the bowl and place the bowl in an ice bath.

Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside.

Strain the chilled milk mixture into a small saucepan. Warm through the milk then slowly pour into the egg yolk, whisking gently the whole time to prevent the egg scrambling. Pour the lot back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture starts to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Pour through the strainer into the bowl of chocolate cream and stir until completely cool.

Pour the mixture into an ice-cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To make the pistachio swirl, place the nuts in a food processor and process to a fine crumb. Add the salt and honey, pulsing until they are evenly mixed through the pistachios. Taste and make sure the salt and sweetness is well balanced, then add 2-3 tbsp water, a little at a time, pulsing between additions until you have
a thick but pourable consistency.

Transfer one-third of the ice cream to an airtight container. Using a teaspoon, swirl through one-third of the pistachio mixture. Repeat until you have used all of the ingredients, then freeze the gelato for a few hours before serving.

If serving the gelato the following day, remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving.


This recipe is from Italian Street Food. (Smith Street Books). Photography by Paola Bacchia.