This cardamom ice cream with candied pistachios is a sweet and salty dessert with bold flavors!

It was a little over 10 years ago that I was sitting in my apartment on the Baltimore waterfront, feeling sad, lonely and confused. I knew I needed a change; something to brighten things up and bring some cheer to my daily existence. After sitting on an idea for years I finally decided to act on it. It was time. I wanted to adopt a cat. 

This cardamom ice cream with candied pistachios is a sweet and salty dessert with bold flavors!

I drove to the local pet store and picked up all of the necessities. With food, toys and a liter box in hand, I made my way to the Maryland SPCA, feeling both adrenaline and self doubt. Some days I felt like I could barely take care of myself. Would I be able to take proper care of another living creature?

A volunteer walked me into the kitten nursery where I was immediately overwhelmed with the sound of eager mews. Little cages were stacked long and high and kittens pawed through the holes, demanding attention. I felt overwhelmed and confused. They were all sweet, adorable and in need of a loving home. How was I supposed to pick one? I walked along, staring at the top row of kitchens, smiling at them, stalling for time. I could see kittens in every cage except for one near my feet. For some reason I decided to crouch down and peek inside the cage.

This cardamom ice cream with candied pistachios is a sweet and salty dessert with bold flavors!

I was surprised to see that it wasn’t empty. A little grey cat was staring out at me with wide eyed curiosity from the back of the cage. We looked at each for a moment. “Can I play with this one?” I asked. The volunteer brought us into a small room where I sat down on the floor. The kitten stared at me for a moment and then walked over, head butted me in the knee and said “mew.” It felt like she was saying “I choose you.”

It was love at first head butt.

It wasn’t an easy first night. Once we got home I realized she had a bad cold. She pooped on my bed. That night I wound up taking her to a pet emergency room to make sure she was ok and to get medicine. But I never once doubted my decision from the moment I adopted. Sofi has brought so much joy into my life. She has been a sweet, fiercely loyal, sometimes irritating, often hilarious companion to me for these past 10 years. She’s a lap cat who demands cuddles every day. Years after adopting her I discovered I’m allergic to cats but having her in my life is worth the occasional inability to breath through my nose. She fills me with joy and has changed me for the better. Adopting a cat was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

This cardamom ice cream with candied pistachios is a sweet and salty dessert with bold flavors!

Cardamom Ice Cream with Spiced Candied Pistachios
for the cardamom ice cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • splash of pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar
for the spiced candied pistachios
  • 2 cups roasted salted pistachios, shelled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
prepare the ice cream
  1. Add the milk, cream, and vanilla to a saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in the cardamom. Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer.
  2. Vigorously whisk the yolks and sugar together in a bowl. When the cream is just starting to simmer (don't boil it), slowly pour some of the liquid into the yolks while whisking.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir in a figure 8 motion with a wood spoon or rubber spatula for several minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. Allow to cool for several minutes, stirring periodically. Cover with plastic wrap that’s pressed directly against the liquid to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until very cold, preferably overnight.
  4. Prepare ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions.
prepare the spiced candied pistachios
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with baking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and cayenne. Stir in the pistachios, coating to evenly combine, and then pour them onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread them in an even layer.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool and crisp up on the baking sheet.
  4. Once cool, break the nuts apart or chop them coarsely.
I prefer serving the nuts on top of the ice cream but they can also be added directly to the ice cream machine toward the end of the churning process.

Candied pistachios recipe adapted from Elizabeth LaBau



  • Tobi @ brag&butter

    Hey Jennifer, this looks so delicious. And it SCREAMS baked figs to me. A total Sheherazade moment. Thanks for this!

  • Marie @ Little Kitchie

    This sounds FABULOUS!

  • Mary Frances

    I’ve seen a lot of candied nuts, but never pistachios. So creative and so delicious sounding! Cardamom is such a lovely flavor and I’m seriously asking myself why I haven’t had it in ice cream before! :) Cats are so sweet; we’ve had both dogs and cats and my heart belonged to the cat. Their purring – I melt!

  • Andre bowers

    Hi Jenn. I love pistachios, and I love gelato. I’ m going to try this recipe and modify it for gelato. Would I be accurate to speculate that the above ingredient list yields two serving- at approximately 1 cup each?
    btw- love your photos as usual.

    • Jennifer Farley

      Hi Andre. Thanks for the kind words! This recipe makes almost enough creme anglaise to fill my 1 quart ice cream machine, though it will yield less if the base is reduced. That’s why I hesitate to include a yield. I had a little over 3 cups.

  • sue/the view from great island

    I wouldn’t be able to control myself around those candied pistachios!

  • Kathryn

    This is such a lovely post, I’m pretty sure our pets choose us most of the time rather than the other way round don’t they? And this ice cream sounds just fantastic too; such a great combination of flavours.

  • Karen Anderson

    I almost didn’t finish this post because when you started out talking about adopting a cat, I thought you might have just lost it and I didn’t want to cry. You see, I lost my Einstein in October and I still tear up when I think of him. We still have the Twins but I do miss my Sweet Baboo.

    • Jennifer Farley

      I am SO sorry for your loss. Hopefully Sofi and I still have a long time together but as she gets older I find myself feeling more dread about her lifespan. Pets really are like our children.

      • Karen Anderson

        Thank you, Jennifer. We lost our old timers at 18, 22, & 24, so I thought I’d have more time with Einstein who was only 13. He got throat cancer and I just couldn’t put him through chemo & radiation. He was such a gentleman cat and he wouldn’t have wanted that. But you’re right; they are like our children, and I miss him so much. And he knew that he was loved.

  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health

    cardamom and pistachios are perfect together.

  • Elizabeth – SugarHero!

    What a sweet story! I am crazy allergic to cats so I don’t think I’ll ever be able to have one, but I do admire the strong bond between cats and owners! I love this flavor combination–I think cardamom doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. Gorgeous recipe, Jen.

  • Liz @ The Lemon Bowl

    This look so insanely delish!! Gorgeous photos as always!

  • Meg @ The Housewife in Training Files

    Talk about gorgeous. Ice cream will always win for me!

  • Kitchen Belleicious

    well now this is out of this world! Simple spectacular and so creative. I love a hint of spice with something sweet and now sweet and cream in the ice cream makes it all the better

  • Sophia @ NY Foodgasm

    Absolutely STUNNING!! I cannot even imagine how amazing this must taste! Plus I am in love with pistachios! YUM!

  • Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Beautiful ice cream, I love the candied pistachios. Sofi is such a sweetie, it’s easy to see why you fell for her!

  • Sylvie | Gourmande in the Kitchen

    I feel the same about my little guys, they have already brought so much happiness into our lives in the few months they’ve been with us and are a lovable and rambunctious duo that make me laugh and fill my heart every day.

  • Big Boys Oven

    listening to you absolutely fabulous dessert, the ice cream

  • nipponnin

    The story brought back memory of my late cat. we adapted a year old cat from Humane Society. She lived with us nearly 19 years. Your cat is beautiful. And the ice cream looks fabulous.

  • Jackie Blades

    I love cardamom. A gentle spice that went O so very nice. with my fruit filled crepes and candied nuts.