‘It has been too long!’ said my friend as she walked into my kitchen and lightly placed a jar of Sicilian pistachio cream in my hand. My friend’s voice faded into a haze as I realized what she had handed me. OMG. My mouth watered instantly. Sicilian pistachio cream. This stuff is green gold. My eyes focused back on her face but I inched closer to the silverware drawer. At the first break in conversation, I dove into the drawer for two spoons, handed one to her and smiled. She nodded. We ripped open the top and like two little school girls, dipped our spoons into this heavenly cream.
Sicilian pistachio cream is a gift from God. In Sicily, it was everywhere and we would slather this nutty cream on slices of toasty bread or buy pastries filled with its delicious green goodness. We would sit on the beach and dip our fingers in little jars of the stuff, smiling from ear to ear. The pistachio cream of Sicily is made from the famous pistachios of Bronte, a little village that sits on the flanks of Mount Etna. The nuts, infused from the rich lava soil, have a slightly mineral flavor and their flesh is a bright green as if to echo the brightness of the lava that occasionally flows from Etna. Their taste is of the sun – an intense flavor that pairs well with both sweet and savory.
So what to do with this special treat? After much deliberation, I decided to use my special treat to make a pistachio tiramisu for a dinner party. The pistachio cream elevates this classic Italian desert. I used a Cognac in place of the more classic Amaretto and dusted the top with a sprinkle of dark cocoa and more pistachios. Be sure to only let the ladyfingers rest for a few seconds in the Cognac so as to not overpower the flavor of the pistachio. You can also use espresso in place of the Cognac. This very simple dessert is elevated to an entirely new level with the addition of the pistachio cream.
If you can find a jar of this stuff (check your local Italian market or online), the cost can be a bit high (only 1% of the world’s production comes from Bronte) but my, oh my, this decadent splurge is worth its price tag.
- Yield: 6
Decadent pistachio cream turns tiramisu into green gold in this easy Italian dessert recipe.
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 ½ cups mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoons pistachio cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Lady fingers
- Crushed pistachios
- Dark cocoa powder
Using a whisk or electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until thick and light yellow, about 3 minutes. Add in the mascarpone and pistachio cream until just combined. (NOTE: The eggs are not cooked in this recipe, which may be of a concern. If concerned, whisk the yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler until light and thermometer reads 170 degrees F.)
In another large bowl, beat the whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the cream into the pistachio mixture until incorporated. Pour about ½ cup Cognac into a shallow bowl. Dip 1 ladyfinger into the Cognac, soaking it for a few seconds on each side. Arrange the ladyfingers in an 8-inch glass baking dish or 4 individual serving dishes. Repeat until the bottom of the dish or the bottoms of the individual dishes are covered, trimming the ladyfingers so they fit snugly. Spread about 1/3 of the pistachio custard mixture over the ladyfingers and sprinkle with pistachios. Repeat with another layer ladyfingers, custard and pistachios. Spread the remaining pistachio custard on top and sprinkle with crushed pistachios. Chill, covered, for at least 4 hours.
When ready to serve, dust with cocoa powder and additional crushed pistachios.
How did I miss this in Sicily?! Of course, I didn’t even know it was a thing, so didn’t look for it. The pistachio gelato was heavenly, and I’ve no doubt this would be too. If I make it back there, you can bet I’ll be looking for it. Yum!
Thanks for commenting, Laurie! Definitely look for it on your next trip! -Michele
i was in sicily a couple of weeks ago and visited bronte just to see the pistachios growing. I came away with two tress, nuts, the cream and pesto all from pistachios. Whilst in sicily i came across arancini filled with pistachios. such heaven.
Wow – that sounds heavenly. Sicily is such a beautiful place…..the thought of pistachio arancini made my mouth water! -Michele
Yes yes yes. And the pursuit of the pistachio “paste” is ongoing..product from California is “meh” but a start. So back to Italy I must go. Who knew? Hugs to you baby sister
Back to Italy we all must go!! 🙂 Hugs cara – ci vediamo presto (speriamo!)
Would you mind to recommend the brand of Bronte pistachio paste could buy online, Amazon?
Hi Levi – I have purchased Vincente Sicilian Cream of Pistachio Nut Spread from Amazon previously and love the quality! Hope this helps! Michele
I just bought Agrisicilia cream of pistachio on Amazon in order to to make this recipe (can’t wait), and think this one is awesome also!
Fiasconaro, from Castlebuono, Sicily makes the premier pistachio cream. Try Amazon.
I’ve just returned from a holiday in Italy and Sicily. I live in Australia, does anyone know where I can buy some?
Hi Jane – I can find pistachio paste at my local Italian market. I also know that Gustiamo carries an excellent variety – they are based in NYC and not sure they ship to AU. Good luck and hoped you enjoyed your holiday! Michele
I purchased the Vincent’s brand and followed your recipe to a T.
However my tiramisu ended up very very light green, not the golden green from your photo.
(Regardless- it was very good)
Hi Jill – Thanks for checking in on this…mine was also a light green. If you look at the photo, I have it served in darker green glasses to highlight the green tones of the tiramisu. Hope that the helps! Happy New Year, Michele
Once again, Michelle, you have thrilled me! I had Pistachio tiramisu in Rome a while past (too long ago and PC..pre you know) and have searched diligently for a recipe with no espresso. Here ‘tis! I have my pistachio paste from Sicily and Christmas is a’coming. See you in Montalcino this spring I hope. Hugs…
Grazie cara amica!!! I adore pistachio cream. Miss you and hope you are well! Wishing you the merriest of holidays and so much looking forward to sitting in the piazza enjoying a spritz together!! Un grande abbraccio xoxo Michele
Very Good. It’s the first Tiramisu recipe I have tried making. Would make again. I’m having fun discovering uses for Pistachio Cream. Thanks for the recipe.
Grazie,Linda!! Thanks for taking time to leave a comment…happy holidays! Michele
Many thanks Linda for taking the time to comment! I adore Pistachio Cream as well…xoxo Michele
This recipe was so easy and incredibly delicious! We live in a rural community and couldn’t find madeleines so we used biscotti at the bottom and yes, Nilla wafers, for the rest of the layers and it was delicious.
So great to hear you enjoyed! Thank you for taking time to leave feedback…buon anno! xo Michele
I’m going to have to try this! I LOVE pistachio 🙂
This recipe sounds amazing and I’m dying to try it! Is there anything you could recommend to replace the alcohol/cognac?
Hi Mindy, You could definitely replace with a cup of coffee. Hope that helps! Michele
This looks so good! What a fun dessert to make for friends!
Thanks for sharing! How far ahead of time can I make it?
Thank you for this recipe! I can only find roasted and salted pistachios. Is that okay? Are there unsalted available?
Hi Annette – Yes – they should be just fine to sprinkle on top! We can find unsalted here but they can be pricey. -Michele