Pistachio Rose Ice Cream Sandwiches

I know– it’s almost Thanksgiving, it’s cold and gray outside, who can think about ice cream? Well I can, and apparently most of my fellow Seattleites can too. I once heard a local radio talk program about all the hand-crafted, gourmet ice cream shops that have popped up around here. The theory is that because of our reputation for long, cold rainy seasons, folks here in Seattle love their ice cream because it’s comforting to take home a pint and curl up on the couch with it. After all, it’s warm and cozy indoors and really, who doesn’t find high butter fat content comforting?

I suppose that can only mean that our standards for ice cream flavors are pretty high. Like an increasing tolerance for an illicit drug, I find myself looking for more and more interesting flavor ideas. One might say I hit rock bottom when I tried a vanilla with a BBQ sauce swirl, but believe me, that ice cream was delicious! And as if the ice cream alone isn’t enough, I’ve found myself obsessing over ice cream sandwiches lately. I blame a local food truck that specializes in desserts, and in particular, will let you design your own ice cream sandwich using your choice from three different cookie flavors and three ice cream flavors. Ice cream, cookies, portable, what’s not to love?

I came up with this ice cream sandwich after a quick search of Afghan cuisine recipes to get ideas for the My Kitchen, My World blog’s November destination. I kept seeing dessert recipes that combined the flavors of pistachio, rose, and cardamom. I decided to combine these flavors by sandwiching creamy pistachio rose ice cream between cardamom shortbread cookies for a twist on traditional Afghan desserts. At first I was a little dubious– I’m not a fan of heavily floral flavors in food (the lavender craze? I don’t get it.) The trick for me would be to balance the flavors so that you get a hint of rose without feeling like you’ve drunk your grandmother’s favorite perfume.

So I set about making the ice cream, starting with just a half teaspoon of rose water and taking small tastes of my custard base until I could just taste the rose flavor. I froze the custard and took another taste– eh. Pistachio is one of my favorite ice cream flavors, and I felt like the rose flavor just muted the pistachio and almond taste. I tried one of my cookies– eh. A little buttery and sweet with a slight punch from the cardamom. It was subtle but not distinctive. But when I put a small spoonful of the ice cream on a bite of cookie? POW! BAM! WOW! Like magic, all the flavors came together and became something powerful. The ice cream was cold, creamy, faintly nutty with just a hint of the floral in the finish while the cardamom in the cookie envelops it all in a warm hug. Definitely give this a try the next time you’re looking for a traditional dessert with a hint of the exotic.

Pistachio Rose Ice Cream

  • 2 cups roasted, salted shelled pistachio nuts, divided
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1.5 teaspoons rose water
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Cardamom Short Bread Cookies

  • 4 oz granulated sugar (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 oz unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), softened
  • 8 oz flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon ground cardamom

To make the ice cream, finely grind 1 cup of pistachio nuts with 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor. Add the pistachio-sugar mixture to a small sauce pan with the milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the almond extract and rose water.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar. Gradually pour the hot milk into the yolks while whisking continuously. Pour the yolk and milk mixture back into the sauce pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard coats the back of the spoon and you can draw a line down it with your finger (about 10 minutes.) Be sure to not let the custard boil. Strain custard into a large bowl, cover, and chill for at least 2 hours or until cold.

Chop 1/2 cup of remaining pistachios and stir this, along with the cardamom and the whipping cream into the chilled custard mixture. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer directions. Freeze over night to allow ice cream to harden.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. To make the cookies, cream the butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until fluffy and pale yellow. Stir in the flour, ground cardamom, salt, and almond extract until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, roll dough into 2 inch sized balls then roll the dough ball in the cinnamon-cardamom-sugar mixture. Place the dough balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass until about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yields about 12 cookies.

To assemble ice cream sandwiches, begin by finely chopping remaining 1/2 cup of pistachios and place on a plate or shallow bowl. Place a large scoop of ice cream on a cookie and top with another cookie, smooshing it down to form a sandwich that is about 1 to 1.5 inches thick. Sprinkle pistachios around the sides of the ice cream and return ice cream sandwiches to the freezer to harden until you are ready to serve them. Yields 6 ice cream sandwiches.


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