Olive Oil Gelato

By • March 31, 2011 • 37 Comments

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Author Notes: 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.

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.

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.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 2 to 4

  • 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 olive oil
  1. In a medium-size saucepan stir together the sugar, water, milk, and salt and heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks until frothy. Continue beating whilst pouring in the combined liquids in a thin stream, then return the mixture to the pan. Carry on stirring with the pan over a low to moderate heat until the custard thickens to a loose custard sauce consistency or reaches 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (Take your time and take the pan off the heat, if needed, because you don't want to scramble the egg). Immediately pour the custard into a bowl and set the bowl in an ice water bath. Stir until the mixture is cool. Transfer to a lidded container, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil in a thin steady stream -- the mixture should thicken and turn smooth. Taste the mixture and decide if you want to add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil -- the oil flavor will become more prominent as the ice cream ages, so keep this in mind. Churn in an ice cream maker following manufacturer's instructions. Eat right away, or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to eat.
Jump to Comments (37)

Tags: frozen, ice cream, Italian, mario batali, olive oil, otto

Comments (37) Questions (1)

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5 months ago Raquel Grinnell

Followed Rissako's lead with less sugar (1/2 cup) and more olive oil (1/2 cup). I'd take the sugar down to her 1/3 cup next time. It solidified very quickly in my Cuisinart ice cream maker... I had the idea to grind in a little fresh back pepper, but was beyond the liquid point, so instead ground a bit atop each serving. Pretty AND delicious!!

Massage_straight_up_crop

9 months ago Rissako

Amanda, I love the simplicity of this recipe! So many other olive oil gelato recipes that I'd found contain vanilla, which I find detracts from the olive oil flavor. Also, so many have cream, but with the oil, the milk really is enough.

To those who worried about it being too sweet, I just wanted to comment that I made my first batch exactly as specified, and for my palate, which prefers things far less sweet, I needed to tone it down. However, I do think for most people, the sweetness will be perfect. For my second batch, I actually reduced the sugar to 1/3 cup… and just to get crazy and see what would happen, I upped the olive oil to 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) and I was thrilled with the results.

I think it's a pretty flexible recipe and would encourage others to play around.

Thanks again for this, and for Food52 in general, over the past couple of years, it's been one of my main-stays.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Rissako, thanks so much for your comment and thoughts -- I've been wanting to play around with this recipe to make it less sweet, and your changes sound just right. I've lent my ice cream machine to our office kitchen so I look forward to trying this out once I get it back!
Also, so glad to hear Food52 has been helpful! Take care.

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over 1 year ago Asuysal

This would be great with a really rich, bitter brownie!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

great idea!

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about 2 years ago Erin Powell

I just made the base and it's very sweet. Is the 2 parts total liquid to 1 part sugar correct? Or am I missing something? Thanks.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

about 2 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You're right -- it is quite sweet, but tastes less so once frozen. You can cut back on the sugar in the recipe, but sounds like it's too late for this batch. How did it turn out?

Monica_promo_edit

almost 3 years ago Monica Little

What kind of olive oil did you use for this? Is there a specific type and/or brand you recommend?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

almost 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I'd use a mild fruity olive oil. The one in the photo was made with a fairly robust flavored oil -- Frantoia.

Monica_promo_edit

almost 3 years ago Monica Little

Thank you so much for your quick response! :) Can't wait to make it.

Raquel4

over 3 years ago RaquelG

I've been pondering the question of what would best accompany this gelato while preparing my home for the onslaught of Hurricane Irene (what better to keep one's mind from impending doom than dessert?) and came upon the idea of lemon-thyme pound cake. Apparently, Martha Stewart had already come up with it:

http://www.marthastewart...

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Ah! Good idea. I was going to suggest a cookie that's not too sweet, and maybe even a little salty.

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmm, I love the idea of something on the salty side with this. It's unbelievably fantastic, while pretty intense. Salty would be just the thing. Even salty chocolate chip cookies.

Raquel4

over 3 years ago RaquelG

Amanda, would you have suggestions as to what pastry or baked goods one might serve with this gelato?

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over 3 years ago Meatballs&Milkshakes

I'm interested to try this recipe after the problems I had with Mario Batali's recipe. For some reason, and I assume it's my ice cream maker's fault, I just couldn't get it to freeze. Even now, weeks later, it's really just a custard sitting in the freezer. Hopefully this version will work better in my ice cream maker....

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Have you successfully made other ice creams in your ice cream maker? If so, how interesting. Let me know how things go with this version.

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over 3 years ago Nancyjenkins

Amanda, I'm curious if you've tried this recipe with other olive oils. There's so little oil in it that I don't see how you get a mild olive oil flavor to come through past all the sugar. Have you tried it with a stronger, fruitier oil? It would be really interesting to experiment with three different oils, say one from Sicily (the Frantoia Barbera you've used), maybe one from Tuscany with more aggressive flavors, and maybe an arbequina from Catalonia with its pronounced nuttiness (at least to my palate). Any time you do that, invite me to a tasting!
Nancy

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I didn't try it with other oils. And I know it seems like very little oil, but oddly enough, after this sat for a day, I thought this amount of this kind of oil was probably a little bit too strong.

Coopers

over 3 years ago aussiefoodie

I just couldn't get this to go as white, or as fluffy looking as the photo. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Your olive oil might be darker so I wouldn't worry too much about the color. What kind of ice cream maker do you have?

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over 3 years ago KirstenW

I heard you can drizzle a fruity olive oil over the top, return it to the freezer, and the oil turns into a 'magic shell' coating....sprinkle with sea salt and a few chocolate shavings and you are good to go! Am going to try it, definitely.

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over 3 years ago pauljoseph

looks Beautiful

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over 3 years ago sdunleavy

I'm so excited to try this. I fell in love with batali's olive oil gelato when I had it over christmas. Can't wait to experiment!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think it would be great with chocolate.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Oops! Replied to the wrong comment. Thanks -- and hope you enjoy it!

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over 3 years ago the musician, who cooks

One of my favorite gelato flavors. I had black pepper olive oil gelato at Paciugo once, along with a scoop of some kind of sea salt gelato, might've been caramel sea salt. Thanks for posting this recipe! I wonder how it would fare if you added chocolate, as I've seen a chocolate extra-virgin olive oil flavor on Paciugo's gelato flavor list as well. Perhaps use a stronger extra-virgin olive oil?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I think it would be great with chocolate.

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

whoa, this looks fab.

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over 3 years ago Sadassa_Ulna

Beautiful photo!

Winnie100

over 3 years ago WinnieAb

This sounds REALLY interesting. Like a sweet and yummy cold version of mayo ;)

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Funny -- I was thinking of describing it as frozen mayo but was concerned some people would find that gross. Glad you don't!

Winnie100

over 3 years ago WinnieAb

No don't find it gross at all. I am a huge fan of homemade mayo with olive oil.

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yum! What a crazy-good idea. Yet another fine use for good quality olive oil. Do you use extra virgin or something milder?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It's in my blog (coming out in the morning!) -- Frantoia, which isn't super strong but is extra virgin. I'd err on the mild side.

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

some of us weren't born with patience!

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Ohhhhhhhhh - the texture on the palate must be like silk. I'm going to fire up the IC maker this weekend!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

It has great texture -- the oil is magical!