Homemade Pistachio Paste

 

Just in case you didn’t know, pistachio paste is hard to find.  Sure you can order it online (and it can cost you a pretty penny) but when you’re determined to make something in the kitchen, having to wait days for a key ingredient to be delivered to your door just won’t do.

The best pistachio paste is said to come from Sicily, made of the prized pistachios of the Bronte region (near Mt. Etna).  They are said to have a more prominent taste due to the volcanic soil they grow on and with limited yield they are not exported in large quantities.  I regret not taking advantage of a trip to Sicily in 2005 for a taste of this local specialty, or maybe even taking a few jars home–they weren’t even on my foodie radar to be honest.  I packed my suitcase with bags of dried porcini mushrooms instead.

 

Rented a scooter for the day from Taormina and drove up to Mt. Etna. The poor scooter barely had enough power to carry us both up to the base. Part of the way up my husband had to drop me off at the side of the road because the scooter started to choke. By the time he scoped out the base and discovered that it wasn’t too much farther, the scooter had cooled down again and we were able to make it to the base together.

 

You might wonder what has had me obsessed with pistachio paste.  For weeks I have wanted to make pistachio gelato–well, years really–but none of my local specialty stores carried pistachio paste.  One buyer for a local gourmet market said that he occasionally carries it during the holidays and would I please remind him about it later in the year–I couldn’t wait that long.  I had to take matters into my own hands.

So I made my own using local pistachios.  I have made almond paste before and it was ridiculously easy.  I guessed that pistachio paste would be manageable, too.  Besides, this recipe has a French pedigree.  Pierre Hermé, the Picasso of Pastry (according to French Vogue), makes his own.  All of Mr. Hermé’s recipes I’ve ever tried have been nothing short of excellent so I had a lot of faith this one wouldn’t disappoint either.

 

This is where we spent a lot of our time in Sicily.

 

Though my paste didn’t turn out as smooth as I would have liked I still consider it a winner.  It won’t win any beauty contests either but I still couldn’t resist eating chunks of it right out of the bowl. If you love pistachios, this pistachio paste will win you over.

As for the gelato that prompted all of this?  Stay tuned…

 

5.0 from 5 reviews

Homemade Pistachio Paste
 
Having difficulty finding pistachio paste? Not to worry–it’s easy to make your own.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 200 grams shelled pistachios
  • 50 grams almond meal
  • 100 grams sugar
  • 2.8 cl water (roughly 1 oz)
  • A few drops of almond extract
Instructions
  1. Using a spice grinder (my choice), mortar and pestle or a blender, grind the pistachios until smooth.
  2. Transfer the ground pistachios in a large bowl and mix in the almond meal
  3. Add the almond extract. Make sure to only add one or two drops.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and heat until the temperature reaches 115-120 degrees C, stirring constantly.
  5. Immediately pour the sugar/water mixture into the nut mixture and mix quickly to prevent the sugar from crystalizing.
  6. While mixing the mixture to form a paste (kneading with your hands is best), you may have to add more water in order to achieve a marzipan-like texture. Add only 1 teaspoon at a time. I ended up adding 3 teaspoons to achieve the desired results.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag. Freeze for longest shelf life.
  8. Makes about 12 ounces of paste.
Notes
I scaled down the original recipe for this quantity.
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Comments

  1. I’m curious about your pistachio paste and what you’ve created with it?? Your photos are beautiful Jean, I’m impressed that you’ve made pistachio paste look so appetizing and elegant;-) Thanks for sharing some of your Sicily photos, looks like fun!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Hi, Patty! I’m sure there are many uses for this pistachio paste but I had a singular goal in mind: pistachio gelato! :) It worked very well and I can’t wait to share the recipe. :)

  2. I think I used Hermé’s or a similar recipe when I made mine and it turned out fine. Here the pistachios are imported from Aleppo or Iran, but i ‘d love to get a hold of the Italian ones!

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Hi, Joumana. I would love to get my hands on Sicilian pistachios, too, though I’ve read that much of Sicily’s supply comes from Iran now, as well.

      Yes, Mr. Hermé’s recipe worked really well. It couldn’t have been easier!

  3. Jean – this sounds amazing! I love learning about new foods from other parts of the world that are extremely interesting and you have achieved this. I must try soon. What would you suggest using this delightful paste on? Love your photos and looks like you had an amazing time! :-)

  4. Pistachios are one of my favorite things. Do you use this as a spread or with any additional toppings. Or do you eat it by itself?

    • lemonsandanchovies says:

      Hi, Gwen. I haven’t experimented with the paste too much as my main goal was to use it in gelato. I think it would work well as a spread with cheese and now I’m thinking it would be nice baked in a fruit tart. :)

  5. Pistachio gelato sounds fantastic, I’m looking forward to you sharing the recipe with us :). Love that Sicily beach shot, too!

  6. I am really intrigued by this pistachio paste. Besides the gelato what else do make using this? I see you’ve sliced it, did you spread it on bread? Thoughts are coming to me but I will have to think on it a bit. It’s the age showing. I love the idea of pastes anyway and this is too cool. I can’t wait to see your gelato.

  7. That is very cool!

  8. Looking forward to your pistachio gelato!

  9. Your trips are always (choke) so eventful! GREG

  10. Jean: I love seeing your travel pics! And I love “crema di pistacchio”. I think it would make a great filling for half moon cookies (kind of sweet ravioli).Oh, and Sicily is one of my fave places on Earth!

  11. I guess having direct access to the Bronte pistachio products never really made me think of making my own paste. I have used it in using as cake fillings and the taste is very intense. Now that you opened my eyes to making one, maybe I can give your recipe a try. Going around Sicily in a scooter should be loads of fun!

  12. I came to this post in wrong order so now I saw your pistachio gelato. It’s very interesting how you made the paste then gelato. Such a rich and nutty paste. It’s so fun to see how you were inspired to make food through your travel. It’s fun for readers to see that connection too. :-)

  13. I love your travel and recipe posts. It makes the recipe that much more special. This is another one of your recipes that I simply must try. Can’t wait to read the pistachio gelato recipe. I always choose pistachio when it’s available at my corner gelato place. Beautiful shot Jean!

  14. I see how your gelato would taste much better having made your own pistachio paste. I would have thought there would be some olive oil in the paste to make it smooth or the texture of a butter. So fun how traveling to another place and eating something fabulous makes such a lasting impression on us. Thanks for sharing I must try this out.

  15. super cool recipe! I’ve been eyeing a couple of Laduree recipes that call for pistachio paste! i don’t want to have to order it from faraway, so this recipe is a heaven-sent! Thanks!

  16. I would be spreading this on everything! What a fantastic idea…looks amazing!

  17. Wow- you shell your own pistachios?! I was so glad when Trader Joe’s started carrying the shelled ones… (OK, guess I’m a slacker that way…)
    I made a cake using pistachio paste instead of almond paste (http://pccuisine.com/chocolate-cake-pistachio.html)- so good. Unlike Pierre (who probably does know more than me?), I used all pistachios (no almond meal). It was still real good!
    Oh, and congrats on being ALL Top Nine today!

  18. What beautiful pictures! Can I ask if the pistachios are roasted or raw?

  19. Valerie Mangual says:

    Thank you for this Pistachio Paste Recipe. It is need for a cake i’m making today. It is -15 here and I was determined to use what was on hand.

  20. What is almond meal? I’m making Pistachio macarons. Didn’t want to wait to have the paste delivered. That just wont do!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] home but I knew I’d have to find the right recipe and the right pistachio base.  Enter the pistachio paste from my previous post.  As much as I would have loved to use Sicilian pistachio paste (Bronte [...]

  2. [...] Making my own though is cheaper and more interesting. So, I did a quick search and settled on using this recipe. I used all pistachio and none of the almond meal though. The recipe works great even if the end [...]

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