Wait. Olive oil on ice cream?
Yep, that’s right! Olive oil isn’t just for savory dishes! Ice cream is also a decadent ice cream topping! To prove that olive oil isn’t just for savory dishes, you’ve heard of olive oil cake, right? If you’re still skeptical about olive oil & sweets like these people on Reddit who are unanimously horrified at seeing Jamie Oliver drizzle olive oil on ice cream…let me try to convince you a little more.
The best dessert I’ve ever had
I might even go out on a limb and say this is my ultimate favorite summer dessert, as in the dessert that I would choose over cookies, cakes, or pies any day! (And this is coming from me is remarkable because I used to have the biggest sweet tooth and formerly aspired to be a pastry chef).
After doing the Whole 30 several years ago, I discovered that sugar was the biggest culprit having negative effects on my health (breakouts & imbalanced hormones, oh my!). I took great care to cut out sugar from my diet as much as possible…and now I have completely lost the taste for it! To me, most desserts (especially American ones) are sickeningly sweet and one dimensional. (That’s why you probably won’t find many sweets on this blog, and the ones that I do share will be low in sugar).
Sweetness, on its own, is rather cloying and unsatisfying, in my opinion. It needs to be balanced out with a little bitterness or saltiness. The best desserts (or even savory dishes) have simple ingredients that yield a layered complexity of flavors, as this one does.
I can’t take credit for this dessert because never in my wildest dreams would I consider drizzling olive oil on ice cream, and then adding on a sprinkle of salt and a handful of tasted nuts. I was introduced to my favorite summer treat by Chris & Eva of Shabby Sheep Design on my visit to their gorgeous home in the wilds of the Lunigiana region of Northern Tuscany.
After aperitivo with spritz & crostini, and an excellent meal of local cinghiale, wild boar, Chris & Eva continued to amaze me with this ice cream dish. It was an unforgettable night full of all my favorite things, good food & wine, and good conversation with good friends. Thank you Chris & Eva for your hospitality & introducing me to my new favorite way to conclude a meal!
An adaptation of this ice cream + olive oil + sea salt concept also appears in Jamie Oliver’s Italy cookbook, so you know it’s legit.
Choosing the right ingredients
Since there are so few ingredients in this dessert, it is essential that each ingredient is of the highest quality for the best flavor.
While recreating this dish in the U.S., I had trouble finding ice cream without the ambiguously deceptive ‘natural flavors’ and the sweetener even-worse-than-sugar, corn syrup.
I finally stumbled upon Talenti Caribbean Coconut Gelato, which had the best ingredients I could find and tastes like the inside of a Bounty chocolate coconut candy bar. It’s good on its own, but the olive oil, sea salt & toasted almonds just take it over the top.
You could use your favorite vanilla or coconut ice cream as an alternative.
You’ll want to use the highest quality olive oil possible here, opting for fruity rather than peppery flavors. I used the olive oil that I had on hand at home, and it worked just fine.
However, if you want to find the perfect olive oil, you could track down a shop with an Olive Oil tasting bar, such as We Olive. Just like wine, olive oil can have an incredible range of flavors.
You’ll want to avoid just regular iodized table salt and opt for sea salt for best results.
The addition of toasted nuts is where the recipe diverges from Jamie Oliver’s version of ice cream with olive oil. If you’re a fan of texture, you’ll love the contrast between the crunchy toasted nuts and the silky smooth ice cream and olive oil. The addition of nuts also add another layer of flavor that complements the sea salt especially well.
Although Chris & Eva served this dessert with pine nuts (which are so buttery and delicious!) I decided to opt for toasted slivered almonds instead while making this in the U.S.
If they’re good, pine nuts are GOOD, and if they’re bad, they are down right TERRIBLE! Have you ever experienced the dreaded pine mouth?
If you’ve been fortunate to have avoided ‘pine mouth’ thus far, count yourself lucky! ‘Pine mouth’ is best described by this article from Bon Appetit:
Imagine taking 50 pennies and placing them in your mouth. Get them all up in there, lined against your gums. Put them on top of your tongue, so all your taste buds are covered. How does that taste? Terrible? Yeah, spit them out. Now imagine dealing with that residual metallic taste for two weeks. If you like pine nuts, that penny flavor could be in your future.-Alex Delany, Bon Appetit
Researchers suggest inconclusively that ‘pine mouth’ could be caused by a Chinese variety of pine nut. When I experienced ‘pine mouth’ several years ago, my pine nuts were indeed from China, and I have adamantly avoided pine nuts from China ever since (where most pine nuts available in the U.S. come from).
If you can get your hands on some quality Italian pine nuts, definitely go for it! Italian pine nuts are available on Amazon, but are notoriously difficult to find in the U.S., at least where I live. Otherwise, opting for slivered almonds will save you from the dreaded pine mouth, and a more cost-effective alternative.
This refreshing dessert is perfect for a hot summer’s day where you can’t be bothered to turn on the oven.
It’s also quick and easy dessert for guests when entertaining. Win your guests over with something unique and memorable!
A quick & easy dessert with simple ingredients & complex flavors
- 1 pint Coconut flavored ice cream (such as Talenti Carribean Coconut)
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds (or pine nuts)
First, toast the slivered almonds (or pine nuts) in a pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Stir them often to ensure that they don't burn, and lower the heat if necessary.
Scoop out a couple spoonfuls of ice cream into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil, add a healthy pinch of sea salt, and to with toasted slivered almonds.
Serve immediately & enjoy! Buon appetito!
This post is part of #DolceVitaBloggers, the monthly link up for Italy lovers, hosted by Italianatheart.com, Mammaprada.com & Questadolcevita.com. Click here to add your link to the July 2019 edition of #DolceVitaBloggers!