Sunday, 9 July 2017

Ice-Cream Month: Chocolate and Pistachio Brownie Sundae

Looking for a decadent treat? Try out this rich pistachio and chocolate brownie sundae, completely with chocolate syrup and pistachio nut praline.

When my companion and I celebrated our anniversary a few weeks ago, we went to a restaurant a few miles from his house in the countryside. We enjoyed a nice dinner, and then turned to the dessert menu: the first thing that leaped out at me was a 'pistachio and chocolate parfait': it was a dessert with little squares of firm-set chocolate mousse, with a scoop of pistachio ice-cream, little brownie squares, sprinkled with praline.... with a random scoop of mango sorbet.

The dessert itself was mostly uninspiring, but what hurt my feelings most was the pistachio ice-cream: it tasted like someone had bought some vanilla ice-cream, added in some chopped nuts and almond essence, then coloured it green. It certainly didn't taste of pistachio.

So, inspired by that dessert, I came up with this decadent treat, except you get an entire brownie, and no weird out-of-place scoops of mango sorbet. I'm really pleased with the flavour of this pistachio ice-cream: cream is really easy to infuse with flavour! And using the nuts leftover from infusing to make praline means not one of those super-expensive nuts goes to waste.

To make four sundaes, each with one scoop of ice cream

For two-thirds of a pint (370 millilitres) caramel ice-cream,
  • 8 UK fluid ounces (230 millilitres) whipping cream
  • 6 UK fluid ounces (170 millilitres) condensed milk
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) roasted salted pistachio nuts, without shells
  • A drop of almond essence
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • A touch of green food colouring
To serve
  • 4 chocolate brownies, cakey or fudgey
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grammes) butter
  • Chocolate ice-cream sauce


The night before you want to serve the sundaes, make the ice-cream.
  • Roughly chop the pistachio nuts, and wash them under running water to get rid of any excess salt.
  • Pour the nuts into a medium saucepan, and add the whipping cream. Place the saucepan over medium low heat, and bring to boiling point. Once it begins to boil, remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before chilling for at least an hour. The cream needs to be good and properly cold.
  • Strain the cream through a fine sieve to remove the chopped pistachio nuts; set the nuts aside for later. In the process of straining, you may lose some cream, as such you might need to top the cream level back up to 8 fluid ounces (230 millilitres).
  • In a large bowl, beat the infused cream, condensed milk, the colouring, and the essences together until it becomes light and moussey; this can take up to 5 or 6 minutes. 
  • If you want, add more essence or food colouring, but start out small: you can always add, but you can't take away.
  • Pour into a one-pint (580 millilitre) container and freeze overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
Next, make the praline,
  • Lightly grease a flat metal baking tray.
  • Take the reserved pistachio nuts and rinse them once more to wash off the cream. Once rinsed, dry lightly in a tea towel, then toast them in a dry frying pan until nice and dry and fragant. Remove from the heat.
  • In a saucepan with a pale interior, cook the caster sugar with a splash of water (roughly a tablespoon, or 15 millilitres), stirring constantly, until the sugar begins to turn brown.
  • Add in the nuts and stir well. The mixture will become crumbly, and when this happens add in the butter and stir until it all comes together.
  • Pour the praline out onto the tray and allow to set completely.
Now, assemble the masterpieces
  • Take the praline and break it into pieces, or bash up with a pestle and mortar (or plastic bag and rolling pin). 
  • Heat up the brownies in a warm oven, or in the microwave. 
  • Place each brownie on a plate or shallow bowl, and divide the ice-cream among the brownies. 
  • Decorate with chocolate sauce and praline.

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