Asking me to pick a favorite food is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. It’s hard. But press me long enough and I’ll probably say ice cream. Or pasta. Or green beans. Or sushi. It really depends on the day.
Indecision aside, ice cream is up there at the top of my list. It aways sounds good even if I’m stuffed. I like even the worst of ice creams. Wendy’s frosty or McDonalds vanilla cone, I’ll choke one down—if choke is synonymous to joyfully consume with a grin of happiness across one’s face. I love ice cream.
This ice cream was inspired by the orange olive oil cake that I made a few weeks ago. The ice cream follows the same general recipe as Bi-Rite’s ice creams: heavy on the cream, light on the other flavorings. It’s really wonderful. And as my custard was chilling, I mused… orange and olive oil would go really well with pistachios, and who doesn’t like ice cream topped with with crunchy bits? Thus pistachio brittle brittle was born. It was a good hunch. This is a really sublime combination. I’m only sad I can’t fit more than one batch of ice cream into my ice cream maker.
Whenever I make ice cream, I end up with a jar of egg whites in my fridge. They’ll languish there, maybe a tablespoon is added to a cocktail, and then a few weeks later I’ll toss the rest. It’s wasteful and a shame. And so, I decided to see if I could make a baby angel food cake out of the remaining egg whites. Turns out, you absolutely can! It’s about half the height of your traditional angel food cake, but no less delicious.
Orange Olive Oil Ice Cream with Pistachio Brittle
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup 1% or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 orange, zested
1/4 olive oil
In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up and then whisk in half the sugar (6 tablespoons). Set aside. Put a plastic container in an ice water bath.
In a saucepan, heat the cream, milk, rest of the sugar and salt over medium heat. When the mixture is just about to simmer, whisk 1/2 cup into the egg yolk mixture. Then whisk in another 1/2 cup. Then add the egg mixture in with the remaining milk in the saucepan and stir.
Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened. If it can coat the back of a spatula and hold a clear path when you run your finger across it, it’s ready. Pour through a mesh strainer into a plastic container. Zest the orange over the custard mixture and mix in. Stir occasionally until the mixture cools. Once cool, put in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Whisk the olive oil into the chilled base. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Enjoy right away, or put back into the plastic container and freeze.
For the pistachio brittle
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup or tapioca syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
A note on candy making: The first time I tried to make this brittle I used an organic sugar made from evaporated cane juice. It’s basically the more hippie/less processed variety you can buy at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Don’t do this! Your brittle will reach a point where it suddenly transforms from syrup to rock candy. There’s no way to coax it into caramel and it is a nightmare to clean. To make this recipe, you’ll need to get the super processed C&H or Domino Pure Cane Sugar that your grandma uses.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and then brush it with a light layer of oil. Combine sugar, water, corn syrup and salt in a heavy saucepan. Put the pan over medium heat and cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 280° F, about 20 – 25 minutes. Pay close attention once it reaches 250° F because it will get to 280 very quickly and you don’t want it to burn.
Stir in the pistachios and stir frequently as the nuts toast and the syrup browns. When the syrup is a mahogany brown, remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. Once that is blended, stir in the butter.
Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and carefully spread into a thin and even layer using a heatproof spatula. You’ll want to work quickly to spread it before it hardens, but be careful because the mixture will be very hot!
Let cool to room temperature for at least an hour and then cut into pieces to sprinkle on top of the ice cream. Store in a tupperware on the counter.
Baby Vanilla Angel Food Cake
2/3 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup cake flour, sifted
3 tablespoons warm water
5 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract (I bought vanilla paste online for a Thomas Keller recipe about a year ago. It’s basically just several scraped vanilla beans in a bit of alcohol with some zanthan gum to give it a gel texture. It’s wonderfully strong flavored and pretty great stuff)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a food processor, spin the sugar for about 2 minutes until it is super fine. Sift half of the sugar with the cake flour and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixture or a large mixing bowl, add the egg whites, water, vanilla paste and cream of tartar. Whisk on medium high until stiff peaks form. This will take about 10 minutes. Once the mixture is looking meringuey, carefully fold in the flour mixture.
Spoon batter into an ungreased tube pan. Cook 25 minutes, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool upside down on a cooling rack for an hour before unmolding from the pan.