Go Back

Ricotta Ice Cream with Candied Fruit and Pistachios

You don’t need to use pistachios and other nuts can be swapped out, including lightly toasted chopped almonds or hazelnuts. Some chopped chocolate can be mixed in to the just-churned ice cream as well, and some might like to add a few drops of orange flower water or a splash of orange liqueur to the base, prior to churning. Or you can leave it as is; it’s great served with cherry compote or fresh berries. I’d mentioned that originally I’d made a pine nut brittle for the ice cream, but since the price of pine nuts is very high right now, I thought I’d offer an alternative. If you want to make the brittle and use that, instead of the pistachios, caramelize 1/2 cup (100g) of sugar, and mix in an equal amount of lightly toasted pine nuts. (Avoid Chinese pine nuts). Stir them together, then spread the mixture on a lightly oiled baking sheet or marble counter. When cool, break the brittle into little pieces with a chef’s knife or food processor and fold into just-churned ice cream along with the candied fruit.

For the custard

  • 1 cup (250ml), half-and-half or heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • 2 cups (500ml) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • optional: 1-2 teaspoon grappa or , kirsch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For mixing in

  • 1/4 cup (40g) finely diced candied lemon, orange, or citron
  • 1/4 cup (40g) coarsely chopped shelled pistachios, (untoasted, or very lightly toasted)
  • Warm the half-and-half or cream with the sugar and salt in a small saucepan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
  • Make an ice bath by nesting a metal or glass bowl in a larger bowl that’s partially filled with ice and some water. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
  • When the half-and-half mixture is very warm, gradually add it to the yolks, stirring constantly with a whisk as you pour (to avoid scrambling the eggs). Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, just until the custard thickens and coats the spatula. (Do not boil.)
  • Immediately strain the custard into the bowl in the ice bath and stir until cool.
  • Pour the custard into a blender and add the honey, ricotta, and grappa or kirsch (if using). Puree in the blender until the mixture is very smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a container, cover, and chill thoroughly.
  • Add the lemon juice, then churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When done, stir in the candied citrus and nuts, and transfer to a container. Cover, and store in the freezer until ready to serve.


No-egg version: Blend 2 cups (500ml) ricotta with 1 cup (250ml) whole milk (or you can use half-and-half or heavy cream, for a creamier texture) with 1/2 cup (100g) sugar, 1/4 cup (80 honey) and 1 teaspoon of grappa of kirsch. Chill thoroughly, then add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, and freeze in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Fold in 1/4 cup/40g (each) candied fruit and pistachios when removing the churned from the machine.
Note that this version will become quite firm after spending some time in the freezer. If you make it in advance, plan on removing it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving it.