Sunday, June 2, 2024

Ice Cream Recipe Review: Jeni Britton Bauer's Olive Oil Ice Cream with Roasted Pepitas

  "Olive Oil Ice Cream with Roasted, Salted Pepitas" from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer.

  • The online recipe can be found here
  • My other ice cream reviews of unusual flavors can be found here.

Note: Pepitas are a variety of pumpkin seed with no hard hull and a thin, delicate thin.  They are common in Mexican cooking. 

I've been planning to make this recipe ever since I ordered an award-winning, freshly pressed olive oil (link below) from California two months ago. I know from unfortunate past experience that rancid olive oil is unbelievably nasty, so it was important to me to be absolutely sure that the olive oil had zero hint of rancidity.

But, I must admit this ice cream flavor kinda scares me. Really.  I've had the book for more than a decade, and I've never managed to try it, despite being intrigued by the idea. Olive oil? Seriously, that's for salad dressings and sautéing veggies, right?

So, I finally decided to stop being afraid of the flavor and give it a try. I figured that the worst case is that I end up composting it, wasting 1/4 cup of a very nice olive oil. 

.... And, to my surprise, it's pretty good! I don't think I'll ever be a huge fan, and unless someone in my family falls in love with it, I probably won't make it again, but it's definitely not going in the compost.

There is a faint hint of olives in the flavor, which is decidedly strange (but not bad) but shouldn't be because olives are fruits, and sniffing the chilled (but unchurned custard) it is a little off-putting because it makes me think of sautéed vegetables. But the colder the base got, the better it was. Once it was churned/soft-serve, it was pretty good, and once it was hard frozen, all off-putting notes disappeared, and it's just good.  I think maybe a little lemon zest would be a wonderful note.

Here's something weird: it's an unusually creamy ice cream, which is counter-intuitive, given that it has LESS cream than other recipes (you reduce the cream, and then make up the fat content with the olive oil).  

The real standout though, was discovering that roasted pepitas are insanely delicious in ice cream, and that discovery alone was worth the effort of making an ice cream I may not make again.

Substitutions and Techniques:

  • Turbinado sugar instead of white sugar (always) as I prefer the flavor.
  • Tapioca starch instead of cornstarch (1:1 ratio).
  • Tapioca syrup as the liquid sugar instead of corn syrup (1:1 ratio).
  • I only had raw pepitas on hand, so I tossed them into a dry skillet with some fine popcorn salt, and stirred almost constantly. When they started to pop and snap, I removed the pan from the heat and froze them. 
  • I used Katz Rock Hill Ranch Estate Grown Chef's Pick Extra Virgin Olive Oil harvested in November/December 2023. I wanted to ensure that the ice cream had zero hint of rancidity, so I made sure to get olive oil I was certain was fresh.


  • Same day: Silky smooth, OK flavor, wonderfully crunchy pepitas.
  • Next day: Silky smooth,  nice flavor, wonderfully crunchy pepitas. Nicely scoopable.

  • I don't think this flavor is one that lends itself to a float or a sundae. But that's OK - it stands on its own nicely.

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