I think every Indian kid remembers their trips to the Indian grocer once a week. I'd peer at the spices and the bags of lentils before making our way to the registers, where I would reach into the cooler and grab a kulfi. Kulfi is Indian ice-cream, but not made the traditional way. It's creamy and fragrant (thanks to saffron and cardamom) and comes in exotic flavors - my favorite was always pistachio.
I finally found a recipe that rivals that kulfi I enjoyed as a kid. It still needs some personal tweaks, but is pretty close to perfect. Under the guise of being called 'Pistachio Ice Cream,' this isn't like that green stuff you can get at Haagen Daz. It's got a wonderful nutty flavor and tastes really, really indulgent. So much so that just one scoop is enough to satisfy the nightly sweet cravings of Husband and I. Ice cream purists might not believe that this is an egg-free ice cream...its creaminess comes from reducing heavy cream and milk (much like a traditional kulfi is made).
(Recipe adapted from Jeni Britton's Pistachio Ice Cream)
*2 cups whole milk
*1 T. plus 1 t. cornstarch
*1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)
*1 1/4 cups heavy cream
*2/3 cup sugar
*1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
*1/2 cup toasted pistachios, very finely ground (toasted in oven at 350 degrees F for 15 min)
*1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
*1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1) In a small bowl, mix 2 T. of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, measure out the cream cheese and let soften.
2) In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat for about 4-5 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the milk-cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
3) Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the pistachios, almond extract and salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20-30 minutes.
4) Freeze in your ice cream maker (I used my Kitchenaid mixture ice cream maker attachment, and it took about 15-20 minutes). Pack the ice cream into an airtight container. Freeze the pistachio ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.
*The original recipe calls for the ground pistachios to be strained out of the mixture just before freezing in an ice cream maker, but I did not do this. Kulfi is never strained of its nuts.
*In the future, I might try adding a touch of cardamom to this ice cream, at step 3.