A fresh take on Hanukkah fare: olive oil ice cream. Don’t be skeptical: it is lick-the-bowl delicious!
This year, Hanukkah starts at sundown on December 12. Hanukkah commemorates the victory of a small group of Jews, the Maccabees, over the army of the Syrian-Greek King Antiochus in the second century BCE.
After the Jews drove the Greeks out of Judea, they attempted to restore their temple, which had been destroyed in the war, only to discover that there was just enough oil to light the lamp that held the eternal flame for one day. The story is that a miracle occurred and the small amount of oil lasted for eight days, which was how long it took to make new oil. That is why Hanukkah lasts for eight days.
Because of the miracle of the oil, the most iconic Hanukkah foods, such as latkes and sufganiyot — the jelly doughnuts beloved by Israelis—are fried in olive oil. (Yes, the reason we eat latkes on Hanukkah has nothing to do with potatoes and everything to do with oil.) Fried foods are certainly tasty, but they are not necessarily something we want to eat for eight days straight.
Luckily, there are many ways to cook and bake with olive oil beyond sautéing and deep-frying. Indeed, some chefs will tell you that olive oil, with its low smoke point, is not even the best choice for frying. This Hanukkah, I am planning to celebrate the miracle of the oil by making some dishes that incorporate olive oil in other ways.
Such as: olive oil ice cream. The first time you hear of olive oil ice cream, you may find the concept gimmicky or pretentious or simply gross. But it is actually a thing. And if you have ever tried olive oil ice cream, you know that it is creamy and fruity and absolutely delicious with an especially rich, buttery mouth feel. If you are someone who likes a hint of savory with their sweet, then olive oil ice cream is for you.
When making olive oil ice cream, the quality and taste of the olive oil you use will noticeably affect the outcome, so my advice is to use a very good quality, extra virgin olive oil with fruity notes. To really gild the lily, drizzle some of the precious oil over the ice cream — maybe with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt — right before serving.
To balance out the richness of the olive oil, I add a hint of lemon to the ice cream. If you happen to be able to source Meyer lemons, they would be even better here.
Wouldn’t an elegant dish of olive oil ice cream be a fresh and unexpected way to end a festive Hanukkah meal?
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 lemon, preferably Meyer
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Flaky sea salt (optional)
- Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water. Place a medium-sized bowl in the ice bath and add the cream to the bowl so it will be chilled.
- Combine the milk, the zest from the lemon, 1/2 cup of the sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat gently over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until lightened in color and foamy.
- Temper the eggs: gradually ladle 1 cup of the warm milk into the bowl with the eggs while whisking constantly. (If you add the warm milk too quickly or don't get the egg yolks moving, you run the risk of cooking the eggs.)
- Scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the remaining warm milk. Cook over medium or medium-low heat, stirring constantly until custard thickens, is steamy and reads between 170 and 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (Do NOT let the custard boil.)
- Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into the chilled bowl of cream. Add the olive oil and the juice of half the lemon.
- Stir the custard to help it cool down quickly. Once the custard is cool, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight so that it is very cold prior to churning.
- Churn the custard into ice cream in an ice cream maker according to your machine's instructions.
- Place in a freezer-safe, air-tight container and freeze until hardened and ready to eat.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.