Sweet and Spicy Habanero Caramel Olive Oil Ice Cream

I’ve been getting some comments recently regarding the carnivoristic (real word? probably not but let’s roll with it) nature of the blog. I don’t hide the fact that I’m big on proteins, but truth be told, I enjoy sweets as well. I just don’t make them often. To that end, this post marks two firsts for Eat Drink Cheer; the first dessert as well as the first guest post. Enjoy!

Written and Created by Stephanie Vu

As you may recall, Griffin entered his Orecchiette with Fennel Sausage pics in a photo contest for Plato’s Olive Oil a while back winning a nice gift card, along with a couple more bottles. Since that time, we’ve really come to love the product and use it in place of standard olive oil in about 80% of the things we cook. From sandwiches to pastas to marinades and vinaigrettes, it really adds a nice kick to pretty much anything you use it on, so when I saw an interesting article on olive oil ice cream I figured it might be an interesting experiment.

Why ice cream? Well, first and foremost, ice cream is delicious, especially when augmented with complex flavors like burbon, habanero, and salted caramel which enhance the rich, creaminess very nicely. I must admit that I didn’t necessarily expect this ice cream to be any good, and in fact thought it likely to be a straight-into-the-trash bust. It should come as no surprise that when it was finished, I approached my first taste with the same trepidation one has before eating a street vendor hot dog. To my (pleasant) surprise, after one timid spoonful, I realized that I may have a new front-runner for my last dessert on earth should I ever find myself on death row.

For those who’ve not tried an olive oil ice cream, it tastes a lot better than it sounds as the versatility of olive oil as a fat allows you to replace other fats in the recipe. This makes it even more important that you do not skimp on the quality of olive oil you use as it’s the key ingredient to getting both the flavor and texture you’re looking for.

So how did it taste? Full disclosure: I am a sucker for sweet, spicy, and salty flavor combinations. Give me chili mangos and I’m in heaven. Lead tainted Mexican candy? Yes please! So you can imagine my delight upon tasting this ice cream and how well it strikes a balance between the three flavors. The use of sea salt and bourbon creates a charmingly mature taste that is not cloying or overly sweet. It starts out sweet and salty, but then transitions to a sneaky, lingering spiciness that slightly singes your tongue leaving you ready for he next bite to cool the heat and restart the cycle.

Interestingly, the habanero chiles add more than just heat to the recipe as they have a great depth of flavor. While along, they are blisteringly hot, when tamed with the sweet creaminess of the ice cream, you can start to taste the inherent sweet and citrusy notes. This subtle flavors were far from overpowering, and mingled well with the caramel to give off a little fiery finish and a distinct flavor combination.

Not since Chinese food and chocolate pudding were introduced by Cal Naughton Jr. has there been a combination that sounds so wrong but just tastes so right. Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe for yourself. However, for the Eat Drink Cheer readers who may still reluctant to try this strange, spicy, delicious desert, never fear as I do have a meat-flavored ice cream in the works.

Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
¼ cup Bourbon (I used Eagle Rare but any bourbon will do)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Maldon’s)

1. In a medium saucepan, cook the sugar over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking until a golden-brown caramel forms, about 6-10 minutes.
2. Carefully stir in bourbon to combine.
3. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the cream and butter to combine. Cook for another 10 minutes until sauce is fully combined.
4. Let the bourbon caramel sauce cool to room temperature before using.

Olive Oil Ice Cream Base

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
¼ cup Plato’s Habanero Olive Oil

1. Create an ice bath by filling a large metal bowl with ice and water.
2. Make the ice cream base by mixing 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a bowl until smooth.
3. In a medium saucepan, combine the rest of the milk, heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup. Whisk to blend. Place over medium-high heat and whisk continuously until boiling. Allow to boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cornstarch-milk slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil for a minute or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat.
4. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the olive oil until well blended. Pour the mixture into a gallon Ziploc bag and place into ice bath until chilled, about 20-30 minutes.
5. Freeze the ice cream base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, slowly add the bourbon-caramel sauce. Is the ice cream ready yet? NO! When ice cream is fully set, transfer to a bowl, cover and freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm.


2 Responses to Sweet and Spicy Habanero Caramel Olive Oil Ice Cream

  1. Jessica says:

    I had the pleasure of tasting a batch of this and I must say it was some of the best ice cream I have ever tasted. It deserves a line as long as one outside Bi-Rite on a hot Dolores Park day!

  2. Griffin says:

    So glad you enjoyed it!

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