pistac(c)hio cheesecake

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.


4 oz butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 c ground pistachio crumbs
1/2 c ground toasted hazelnut crumbs
1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
2-3 T sugar
1 1/2 lb cream cheese (3 8oz packages)
1 1/8 c sugar
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
2 T Frangelico liqueur or 4 T pistachio liqueur
150g pistachio cream (with Frangelico) or 50g (with pistachio liqueur)
1/4 c flour
1 c sour cream
2-3 T sugar
1 t Frangelico or pistachio liqueur
1-2 T ground pistachio crumbs


  1. Trace out the bottom of the 9 in springform pan on parchment paper and cut a circle to fit into the bottom of the pan and insert the bottom upside down so the rim lip points down, allowing easy cutting of the cake without the crust being recessed down below the rim.
  2. Find recipe ready toasted hazelnuts and crumb up a half cup for the crust.  Food process enough pistachio nuts to get a half cup. Mix together with a half cup of graham cracker crumbs and the sugar.
  3. Melt the butter, work into the crumb mixture, and press to the bottom of the springform pan using the flat bottom of a glass or a chicken pounder after raking roughly even with a fork 
  4. Beat room temperature cream cheese and sugar together until soft (a KitchenAid mixer works great). Then add the salt and one egg at a time at minimum batter speed, followed by the liqueur and flour.
  5. Pour into crust and bake about 1 hour in a preheated 350° F oven, then check top for signature golden brown color and if still white, continue for 10 minutes and recheck, and possibly continue for another 10 minutes until this desired color is reached. Remove for 10 minutes.
  6. Mix sour cream, sugar, and ;iqueur and spread over central region of the cheesecake, leaving a golden border around the edge, sprinkling with pistachio crumbs just before returning it to the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove and chill overnight at least before serving.


  1. Cream di pistacchio = Pistachio cream, available in the US too.
  2. Pistacchio di Bronte: [1, ].
  3. Ponche pistacchio liequeur, a product of Curacao.
  4. Friends in Italy, just do the final limoncello cheesecake recipe for 3 eggs and do the obvious pistachio modification of the hazelnut components.
  5. Illustrations available.
pistacchiochck.htm: 26-oct-2014 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]