To a non-Italian like me, this ice cream flavor initially sounded really strange. I mean, olive oil is almost never served in a sweet capacity, right? We enjoy it dipped in bread, drizzled over fresh mozarella, or poured over a savory soup. But then this past year, I started hearing about other ways in which olive oil could be used in a sweet dessert.
First, there was the olive oil cake I had in Napa Valley at the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef's Competition Welcome Reception. Then I started seeing tweets from a certain food blogger who was basically obsessing over olive oil ice cream she had just enjoyed at Momofuku. She then somehow managed to procure a few pints (a secret supply that they keep in the back) from my favorite ice cream place in the world. A week later, after getting this exciting message on twitter, I walked, no I ran, down the street to pick up my own secret pint that was hidden in the back for me.
Though at first it took a little getting used to, the ice cream definitely grew on me. By the third night, I was craving the stuff, and would anticipate my bowl of olive oil ice cream every night.
So of course when I ran out, what did I do? I learned how to make it, of course. The recipe is surprisingly simple, and after doing just a tiny bit of research, I realized that this stuff is actually quite common in Italy. The quality of the olive oil matters a lot, so try to get the fruitiest, most floral olive oil you can find.
Heavy cream is not cheap, and I think most people would agree that making ice cream at home is actually not economical. It probably costs just as much as buying a tub in the supermarket.
The cheapest place I've found selling heavy cream, by far, is Costco. You can get a quart for less than $3, which is about half the cost of most places. Half and Half at Costco is really cheap too. As a result, I have optimized most of my ice cream recipes according to ingredients I can easily and inexpensively obtain at Costco.
Definitely don't skimp on the quality of the olive oil, as this recipe is so simple that the quality of every single ingredient matters a lot. This recipe also makes an ice cream that is not super sweet. If you like sweeter ice creams, I would recommend adding more sugar than what I have added. Personally, I think an olive oil ice cream should not be too sweet. Some recipes even recommend pairing the ice cream with a dash of sea salt on top.
Olive Oil Ice Cream
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
4 egg yolks, beaten
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Dissolve sugar, heavy cream, and half and half in a pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar has melted. While stirring the heated mixture with a whisk, add in the beaten egg yolks in a slow but steady stream. Continue stirring until all the egg yolk is incorporated. Continue heating and stirring over medium heat until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon (~8-10 minutes). Optionally filter the mixture through a sieve to remove any small egg yolk solids. Add the olive oil and stir to combine. You can put the mixture into an ice bath and stir (like I did) to cool it more quickly before putting it in the refrigerator. Cool the mixture overnight.
The next day, you may notice that the cream mixture may have separated from the oil mixture. Stir to re-mix the two different phases and pour into an ice cream maker. Make ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions. I personally use a Lello Gelato Pro, which I love because it has its own condenser, which means you can make ice cream anytime of the day on a whim. I've had the unit for years and have never had a problem with it. It is very reliable.
Most ice creams that I make need to be put into the freezer for a few hours before they can be served. This ice cream is so thick, rich, and creamy, you can serve it right out of the ice cream maker!
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