Wednesday, August 26, 2009
There are two things that happen a lot once your friends and family realize how crazy you are about food. The first is you tend to get food-related gifts for every birthday and holiday. This is a huge bonus. The second thing is that they bring every food-related question to you, assuming you must know everything there is to know about food. Truth be told, this is a huge plus as well. It’s taught me that I really do know a great deal about food because I can thoroughly answer a number of questions that come from the home cook. It also has helped me realize what I don’t know and what I want to learn more about.
The question I get asked the most, with far more frequency than anything else, is to explain the difference between gelato and ice cream. My default answer has been that it’s mainly in the churning process and that if you’re talking about a custard-based ice cream, the ingredients are generally the same.
That default answer was no longer good enough after tasting the olive oil gelato at Mozza in Los Angeles. It was so good I tracked down the recipe in one of Mario Batali’s cookbooks, because as much as I would love to eat at Mozza every time a craving for that gelato hits, my bank account cannot handle the pressure. I dutifully followed Mario’s gelato recipe, but, lacking a gelato machine, I was forced to churn the custard in my ice cream maker. I needed to know whether I could call what I made gelato or if it was ice cream.
After a quick google search I realized this question could have easily been answered a long time ago. It turns out that I was partially correct. Gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream which means less air is whipped into the final frozen treat, yielding a much thicker, denser product. Additionally, gelato has less fat than ice cream. What? That doesn’t make sense! Isn’t gelato the richer, creamier version of ice cream? Well, according to Alon Balshan as quoted in Jessica Harlan’s article on About.com, the extra fat in ice cream coats your mouth and the flavors don’t come through as strongly. There’s less standing between you and that intense flavor punch in a good gelato.
Gelato vs. ice cream dilemma solved. What to call my creation? Neither really. I used a recipe for gelato which didn’t include as much fat as ice cream and I churned it in an ice cream maker that whipped in too much air to call the final product gelato. So here is a recipe for Olive Oil Not Gelato Not Ice Cream. If you have a gelato machine, by all means, follow the instructions and end up with delicious gelato. If you, like me, don’t yet possess one, follow the directions, make something quite delicious and join me in adding gelato machine to your long list of necessary kitchen products.
Olive Oil Not Gelato Not Ice Cream
Adapted from Mario Batalio
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used Valderrama – my current favorite)
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Place the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and use the whip attachment to beat to the ribbon stage (about five minutes on medium speed). You’ll know you’ve hit the ribbon stage when the mixture is pale yellow in color and it falls back into the bowl in a ribbon pattern. With the mixer running, drizzle in the olive oil and beat until combined. Continue mixing as you add the milk and cream. When everything is combined, freeze according to your gelato or ice cream maker’s directions.