Friday, February 19, 2010

olive oil and balsamic vinegar ice cream

A few years ago, one of my foodie friends told me that she and her husband had fond memories of an olive oil ice cream served for dessert on an out-of-state trip they'd taken. A the time I thought it sounded a little odd, something I'd probably not be interested in. But B has a crazy olive-oil-and-vinegar obsession, and when he recently started getting his fix by swirling oil and vinegar in a glass and drinking them straight, I thought, there's got to be a better way to do this. And I remembered K's olive oil ice cream. I headed to the internet, and found a promising recipe at the Worldwide Gourmet.

Although I'd rate the recipe as easy on the whole, the directions were a little confusing for someone with as little ice-cream making experience as I have. I haven't made a lot of custard bases, and I curdled my first batch. This made B ridiculously happy because we strained out the clumpy bits and he drank the custard and dunked French bread in it. I also had a bit of weirdness with trying to fold the cream into the anglaise. There's a *lot* of custard, and it sort of dissolved the whipped cream, leaving a few bits of whipped cream unincorporated. I'll play with this next time to see if I can get it mixed smoothly.

Now, if you're anything like my friends, this recipe may be inspiring a lot of hate. I know it isn't exactly a standard flavor, but I wasn't expecting so many of the people I talked to about it to dislike the idea so much. If you're leaning this direction, I have good news for you--you're wrong. This is one of best ice creams we've eaten. I loved it, the one friend who actually tasted it loved it, and B loved it. Enough to go back for more every night. (With B, this is the equivalent of an 15-out-of-10-star rating. He does *not* go looking for dessert. If I buy his usual favorite, strawberry ice cream, it will sit in the freezer for two months before he'll consider eating it. And he loves it.) The olive oil and balsamic are there, but they're quite subtle. If I didn't know what I was eating, I wouldn't guess olive oil and vinegar. The custard base is incredibly rich, as it should be with ten egg yolks, and the oil and vinegar complement it nicely. The final product is a beautiful custard color.

At some point, I want to try making a savory version of the ice cream, where the oil and vinegar are more noticeable, but it's hard to really think about tinkering with this recipe when it's perfect. The finished ice cream was a little bit icy in texture, but based on results making other ice creams, that seems to be a problem with our machine and not the recipe. (If you have any recommendations for a really good ice cream maker, I'd love to hear them.)

Now for the best ice cream recipe ever. Go make yourself a batch. You deserve it.

olive oil and balsamic vinegar ice cream (from The Worldwide Gourmet)

4 C milk
10 egg yolks
9 oz. sugar
9 oz. cream
3 TB olive oil (I used a robust oil to be sure the flavor would show up.)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. Heat the milk. (I don't know how hot it's supposed to be; I'd recommend checking your favorite liquid custard recipe.) Temper the egg mixture with some of the hot milk. Whisk the remaining hot milk into the eggs and transfer to a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens slightly to form a creme anglaise. Do not overheat or the eggs will curdle.

Cool custard to lukewarm. Whip the cream and fold it into the creme anglaise. Add the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Put in ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Devour.