The apotheosis of Mario Batali's cooking and the Mediterranean diet is, in my dessert-loving view, the olive oil gelato at Otto. It's as smooth as aioli, pulsing with green olive flavor, and has sugar and salt dueling in the background.
Batali published a recipe for it in Molto Gusto -- it can be found on Serious Eats. The recipe, though good sounding, seemed like it would produce something richer and sweeter than I remember. As I fumbled through my cookbooks, I came across another version in Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati by Robin and Caroline Weir.
The Weirs are the foremost authorities on frozen desserts, and this book is the culmination of all of their research. And yet, I was also skeptical of their recipe, which calls for water in the custard, no cream or salt, and a whole lot of olive oil.
I was wrong about the custard -- it makes for a lovely thin yellow sauce (I did add a large pinch of salt). After chilling it overnight I whisked in olive oil to taste. The custard drank the oil like a good, dense mayonnaise, getting thicker and smoother with each stroke of the whisk. But after 6 tablespoons of oil -- the Weirs call for 12 -- I called it quits, and churned the gelato as is.
When something is good, you don't always want to share it. But you'll know when something you've made is really great, because you want everyone you know to taste it. Want to come by?
Olive Oil Gelato
Adapted from Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati by Robin Weir and Caroline Weir
Serves 2 to 4 (you can double the recipe if you want more)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- Large pinch salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons good olive oil (preferably Arbequina; I used Frantoia Barbera)