When we are in Italy and we treat ourselves to gelato, ani always gets the same flavors: pistacchio e nocciola, which translates into pistachio and hazelnut (notice the single "c"). Pistachios are a popular nut in the Middle East and apparently also in Sicily, where a thriving pistacchio industry thrives and the high end products are associated with the name Bronte, as in pistacchio di Bronte.
On our 5th annual cheesecake party in Sabaudia south of Rome, we needed a new flavor to keep the tradition fresh, and bob discovered this "crema di pistacchio" (pistachio cream) in a supermarket, something like green nutella, also pretty tasty stuff, so since we had never done this flavor anywhere, we decided to experiment with it together with our young dr bob cooking class students trained in previous summers. In any case the base recipe for our more frequently executed cheesecake (limoncello) is the hazelnut cheesecake, so it is not a big leap to a slightly different nut, other than the fact that no pistacchio liqueur was around on our first trial, whereas Frangelico liqueur is an Italian monk product which is key to the hazelnut recipe. We went with a small 150g jar of the pistacchio cream and a few tablespoons of Frangelico to kick it up a notch, mixing hazelnut and pistacchio crumbs with the Italian substituted graham cracker crumbs to make the crust, and garnishing with pistacchio crumbs.
It did not hurt that we had sampled some soft ice cream machine Pistacchio di Bronte gelato at Eataly in Rome, or that we had tried pistacchio pesto sauce on pasta there too. So it seemed like a reasonable risk to go for the cheesecake. It was a hit, even with ani, who is pretty skeptical of most desserts, thus keeping aging bob from overindulging.
Then leaving a week long beach vacation in St Martin, bob discovered a pistachio liqueur in the duty free shop and ani asked to sample it and they complied and she liked it! Only 10 bucks for the bottle so we grabbed it. To celebrate the brief visit of some dear Roman friends shortly afterwards (our first traveling dr bob cooking school student GP with ad and ch), we decided to do a cheesecake, an opportunity to try this again on our home turf. The only problem was that we only had less than a quarter cup left in the pistachio cream jar on hand, so it was clear the liqueur would have to fill in for the missing flavor component, leading to a hybrid pistachio solution. It worked fine.