SUNDAE SUNDAY: Pistachio, honey and fig bliss

Shooting ice cream is quite tricky, as evidenced by the melty mess above.

Shooting ice cream is quite tricky, as evidenced by the melty mess above.

This was the first weekend where I was traveling for (almost) all of it, but I squeezed in (almost) enough time to pull off a “quick” sundae for this week, featuring pistachios, my favorite nut to bake with.  When I paired it up against peanuts in my Instagram Stories vote-off, I expected peanut to win, but it wasn’t even close. Pistachio fans, unite.

A natural choice of sundae would feature pistachios in the ice cream itself. Unfortunately, I’m still scarred from a pistachio ice cream incident in pastry school where I made an pistachio ice cream that “tasted like meat,” to quote my James Beard Award-winning instructor; she was right, though: it took the taste buds into meatloaf territory. (Lesson there: don’t infuse an olive oil ice cream base with roasted pistachios overnight.)

This sundae combines a pistachio cake, honey ice cream, perfectly ripe figs, and a heavy hand of flaky sea salt as garnish.  No hint of meat flavor.

A keen eye will notice that the scale of the component recipes is half of prior weeks, but know that if you want to make a larger batch, all recipes double nicely.


Pistachio, honey and fig bliss

By: Kathleen Hayes; specific recipe adaptations and yields shared below

Baker's notes: As usual, my Sundae Sunday posts are more impromptu in nature and haven't been tested as thoroughly as other recipes on my site. However, this one is a winner. The only part that dismayed me was how the ice cream never firmed up enough to make a clean quenelle, but I'm guessing most people reading this won't find that to be a major problem. :)

Honey Brown Sugar ice cream - adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book; yield = 1 pint


  • 240g heavy cream (~1 cups)

  • 120g whole milk (~1 cup)

  • 100g (organic) brown sugar

  • 85g honey

  • 42g egg yolks (~2 egg yolks)

  • 4 pinches of kosher salt


  • Create an ice bath for your final mixture to cool down in a large mixing bowl.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, and salt.  Heat over medium or medium-high until it’s just at a soft boil, then remove from heat.

  • Whisk together your sugar and egg yolks until combined. This will form a thick paste.

  • Temper your egg mixture by ladling (or carefully pouring straight from the pan) ¼  - ⅓ cup of your hot cream mixture into the bowl with your eggs+sugar, whisking constantly to start melding the two mixtures together.  Repeat with a few more ladles worth of the cream mixture, and then transfer the tempered mixture back into your saucepan.

  • Add honey to the saucepan.

  • Over medium-high heat, heat your base and use a spatula to draw figure-8s shapes repeatedly through the mixture to keep everything moving so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Do this until it thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 170 - 172 F, then remove from heat. (You’ve made creme anglaise!)

  • Pour your creme anglaise mixture through a chinoise/fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath.

  • Stir periodically and let mixture cool down to room temperature.  Then let mixture chill for at least an hour and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

  • Before you spin your ice cream: place a baking dish and spatula in the freezer (I use the smaller of these two dishes) so your finished ice cream will go into a chilled container and not melt.

  • Follow the instructions for your ice cream machine and spin your ice cream.  If your machine’s bowl isn’t your final storage container, transfer your finished ice cream from the machine to the chilled baking dish and let it set for a few hours.


Pistachio^2 Cake - adapted from Delfina restaurant via SF Cooking School; yield = ¼ sheet pan


Wet ingredients

  • 68g pistachio paste (I made my own by blanching pistachios and putting in a food processor for 1.5 minutes)

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla paste

  • 146g unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 116g (organic) sugar


  • 145g whole eggs (~3 large eggs)

Dry ingredients

  • 67g all purpose flour

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Additional mix-in

  • 91g pistachios, roasted, cooled and chopped (~1 cup)


  • Preset oven to 338 degrees F or nearest interval. If you have a convection oven, consider baking at a slightly lower temperature and/or bake time (my oven is not convection).

  • Line with parchment and grease/spray a quarter sheet pan.

  • In a stand mixer on medium with a paddle attachment, mix the pistachio paste, vanilla paste, and butter until light and airy.

  • Add the sugar to the mixer and cream together with the fats.

  • On low, add the eggs until combined.

  • Add the dry ingredients on low until partially combined, and then finish incorporating by hand, using a spatula to fold in the flour.  Fold in the roasted pistachios.

  • Put batter in lined baking sheet and bake for 18-21 minutes, until the cake springs back when you gently press a finger on it. It will brown slightly but not that much.

  • Let cool in the pan.  This can be kept, wrapped in plastic, in the freezer for a month or the fridge for a week.

Fresh Figs - I used Black Mission figs and wedged them 6-8 pieces per fig.

Other accoutrement - honey, flaky sea salt, cashew flour

Special equipment



  • Wedge figs and cut small squares or rectangles of cake

  • Arrange on plate, in an arc or straight line. Dust plate with cashew flour.

  • Lightly drizzle figs and cake with honey, and top with flaky sea salt.

  • Quenelle, curl or scoop a small portion of honey ice cream, choosing to plate off-center or centered.


  • Swap in different fruit if you can’t source figs (blackberries would work quite nicely).

  • Add more salt to your ice cream base to make it salted honey ice cream instead of sprinkling salt on top.

  • Serve with additional roasted pistachios, or change up how you plate it.

  • While I find the sweet honey ice cream to perfectly compliment the subtle figs and nutty cake, experiment with a more savory profile by making olive oil or ricotta ice cream instead.


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