Pistachio Creams

Pistachio creams

What modern people would recognize as cooked custards or puddings we here in the 18th century call creams, which would be found in the dessert course of an elegant dinner. Creams came in a variety of flavors: chocolate, orange, lemon, almond, apple, and more. If you froze them they would become iced creams. Pistachio is one of our favorite cream flavors to make and can be found frequently on both Mr. Wythe and the governor’s table. Enjoy!

Pistachio Cream Recipes

From The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse (1779)

To make Pistachio-Cream

“Take half a pound of Pistachio nuts, break them, and take out the kernels; beat them in a stew pan with a pint of good cream, and the yolks of two eggs beat very fine; stir it gently over a slow fire till it is thick; but be sure it do not boil; them put it into a soup-plate; when it is cold, stick some kernels, cut long-ways, all over it, and send it to table.”

pistachio ice cream

Historic Foodways Adaptation


  • ½ cup shelled pistachio nuts, rough chopped, plus 10-12 whole nuts
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sugar*

The recipe is missing the addition of sugar. Whether this is an oversight, or the cook would have known to add sugar to taste, we do not know. Please feel free to add as much or as little sugar as you like, or none at all.


  1. Shell pistachio nuts and rough chop them. Set them aside.
  2. In a pot pour in the cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Beat well with a whisk.
  3. Cook cream mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon like the consistency of yogurt.
  4. Remove from the heat and let cool five minutes. Mix in ½ cup of chopped nuts.
  5. The mixture may be poured into a soup plate, or into individual small cordial glasses.
  6. Place whole pistachios on top of the custard.
  7. Let the custard cool for at least an hour before serving. May be served warm or cold.

Note: The recipe instructs the cook to put the nuts into the cream and cook. We find this causes the nuts to oil and curdle the mixture if not done properly. Stirring the nuts into the cooked custard avoids this problem.

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6 Responses to “Pistachio Creams”

  1. July 7th, 2017

    Rebecca says:

    My kids have been eating lots of pistachios lately. I’d like to give this a try as an after dinner treat. Thanks for maintaining this blog – colonial food history is so fascinating!

    • October 23rd, 2017

      kcosta says:

      Hi Rebecca- We love pistachios too. This is one of the recipes that I will make for guests who wish to venture into 18th century cooking without being ‘too’ over the top. Plus, it’s gluten free (for those of you out there are interested). I hope you enjoyed it.

  2. September 25th, 2017

    Lindsay says:

    I agree with Rebecca, I’m glad this website continues. When the world seems terrible, it’s lovely to contemplate simple cooking pleasures in a (somewhat) simpler time.

    • October 23rd, 2017

      kcosta says:

      Hello Lindsay- thanks for the kind words. We have some new ideas coming up for the blog in 2017, so keep your eyes peeled.

  3. March 18th, 2018

    MARY D. CAIN says:

    In #7 did you mean let the custard COOL?

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