Agrumato Tangerine Gelato – Olive Oil Gelato
Warm weather or cold weather, rain or shine, I make frozen desserts all year round, and my gelato machine occupies pride of place on my kitchen counter. I enjoy trying new things, and olive oil gelati are the subject of my latest experimentation. Here a simple egg custard based gelato is made with olive oil, and not just any olive oil. I used Agrumato (ah-gru-MAH-to) Tangerine, a premium extra virgin olive oil made by the Ricci Family of Abruzzo. The olives are Gentile di Chieti, Leccino, and Olivastra cultivars. In some citrus oils the flavoring agents are added to the finished oil, almost as an afterthought, but in the best of class the citrus is pressed together with the olives resulting in an extraordinary harmony and blending of flavors that lesser quality oils can not rival. The Ricci Family presses both olives and citrus together to produce a fine oil with no sense of “added flavor.”
Oils made with citrus are part of the tradition of oil manufacture in Abruzzo, and started as a way to clean the granite mills at the end of pressing. These heritage oils have evolved into a sub-industry that produces some truly wonderful products, brightly flavored and perfect for spring and summer cooking, grilling and dessert making. See my article on Agrumato with Lemon and Herbs for another taste of this variety of oil. Agrumi is citrus in Italian, and the Ricci Family produces a variety of these oils. Agrumato lemon, orange, tangerine, citron, and lemon with herbs are available from Olio2Go, both in their brick and mortar store and online. I hope you will explore these oils.
With this gelato, the taste of tangerine and a mixed citrus compote lend new focus to a classic. If you have never tried olive oil in gelato, don’t be timid. The oil adds a richness to gelato that no other ingredient can match. Some recipes are a great deal heavier than this one with higher percentages of cream, more egg yolks and more oil. I prefer this lighter version.
I have three rules for olive oil use, and everything flows from these rules. The first is pretty simple. Use an oil you love. If you don’t like the oil from the get-go, or if it is particularly spicy or quite robust, you probably will not like it in gelato, especially if this genre of dessert is new to you. The second is to be sure the oil is fresh, well within two years of harvest and pressing. The date of pressing or a “use by date” should be clearly visible on the label. Third, store the oil in a cool, dark place, well away from heat. Once opened, oil should be used within a few months. There is no hiding rancid oil in gelato or anywhere else. In the case of gelato, the dairy is mild in flavor, and the taste of the olive oil will come through, front and center. Per favore, use the good stuff.
The tangerine oil produces a particularly refreshing gelato. Light, and not at all oily, with a fruity, bright and slightly sweet flavor profile, it captures the essence of tangerine. Plus, it is good for you. With this one you get the beneficial anti-oxidant effects of olive oil’s polyphenols plus the upside of citrus – flavonoids and more anti-oxidants.
This gelato is wonderful served with a piece of pound cake, or a mix of basil and other herbs or, as here, with a mixed citrus compote.
Tangerine Agrumato Gelato
makes 1 scant quart
1 ¼ cup whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
4 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Tangerine Agrumato Extra Virgin Olive Oil
zest of 1 tangerine, if desired (See Cook’s Note)
tangerine zest to garnish, if desired
Prepare the custard base: combine the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally. Scald the mixture by increasing the flame and heating the mixture until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan.
Temper the mixture: as the milk mixture heats, whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl until lightened. Slowly dribble the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Combining the egg yolks and milk in this fashion, a process known as tempering, will slowly heat the egg yolks and prevent them from curdling when they are exposed to the direct heat of the stovetop flame.
Finish the custard: return the mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a heatproof spatula until the mixture reaches 175 degrees F. and coats the back of the spatula. Don’t rush this procedure. Be patient and use a medium flame. This slow heating will contribute to proper thickening of the custard.
Prepare an ice water bath: while the custard cooks, pour the cream into a medium bowl. Prepare a second, larger bowl for use as an ice water bath by filling it halfway with ice water. Set both bowls aside.
Finish the gelato base: strain the cooked custard into the bowl containing the cream and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil and whisk well to incorporate. Set the bowl over the ice bath to cool. Stir occasionally until cool, being careful not to slosh any water into the gelato base. Refrigerate the base 4 hours or overnight to chill completely.
Freeze the gelato: pour the chilled base into a gelato/ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the gelato into a container and place in the freezer for 4 hours or overnight. Serve accompanied by a compote of fresh citrus, and garnish with tangerine zest, if desired.
Make the citrus compote: while the gelato is curing in the freezer, prepare the citrus. Slice ¼ inch off the top and bottom of each piece of citrus to produce spheres that will stand on their own. Place the fruit on end, and following its contour, slice downwards to remove the skin and all of the bitter white pith, revealing the flesh of the fruit. Rotate the fruit and continue this process to remove all of the skin and pith. You will have a sphere of bright, juicy fruit.
Place a medium bowl on the counter. Hold the fruit over the bowl in one hand and with the other use a sharp knife to remove each segment of fruit, letting the juice fall into the bowl and discarding the seeds. Cut as close as possible to the membranes that separate each segment, leaving the membrane behind. Once all the segments have been cut from the fruit, squeeze the remaining membranes to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the skeleton of the fruit. Cover the bowl of fruit segments and refrigerate until service.
Cook’s Note: If you want even more tangerine flavor, add the chopped zest of 1 tangerine to the initial milk mixture. Heat the milk along with the zest, sugar, and salt. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and set aside to steep for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the zest. Reheat the mixture and proceed with the recipe.
Still Life With Wrapped Tangerines
William J. McCloskey (1859-1941)
I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.
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Picture of Agrumato Tangerine Extra Virgin Olive Oil courtesy Olio2Go