Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Olive Oil Gelato

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Spending the week cooking from Molto Gusto by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner has been an absolute joy. I was able to replicate dishes from Otto and every recipe I tried tasted nearly identical to the restaurant original—not a small feat considering the most restaurant cookbooks have a tendency to dumb down their recipes for the ease of home cooks.

I waited until the end of the week to test out the recipe that I was most excited (and curious) about, olive oil gelato. The gelato at Otto is made by Meredith Kurtzman, and is worth a trip on its own. The gelato flavors rotate seasonally and are without fail some of the best in the city, but the olive oil gelato is a constant and my desert island dessert. The texture is always perfectly creamy, with haunting notes of fruit and pepper from the oil.

This recipe motivated me to go out and purchase an ice cream maker. I figured if I could make a passable version of Kurtzman's gelato it would make a very worthwhile investment.

The base for the gelato is a custard made from milk, cream, egg yolks, salt, and vanilla. It's heated and thickens quite rapidly, so constant stirring is a must. Once the base is cooled it's transferred to the ice cream maker and frozen halfway before the olive oil is added.

When choosing an olive oil for this recipe, go with the good stuff—the flavor of the gelato depends entirely on it. I chose an oil from Umbria for its notes of pepper and bitter almond.

The gelato froze thick and creamy and upon first taste it was bright with all of the flavors from the olive oil. This recipe makes about a quart and a half of gelato which might seem like a bit excessive but somehow I don't think that there will be any problem finishing it, especially when drizzled with a little more olive oil and sprinkled with Maldon sea salt.

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