Maialino’s Olive Oil Cake & Coconut-Lime Sorbet

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This summer I have eaten many life-changing foods. Lamb chops, panna cotta, olive oil and balsamic, coconut lime sorbet… I must say, working in a cooking store really does open your eyes to all the food possibilities.

On the weekends, sometimes we’ll do a demo, and one of these weekends happened to be an ice cream demo! Can I get a HOORAY! ? And, as the title of this post suggests, the demo involved coconut lime sorbet. At first, I was skeptical. You would not be surprised to know that my favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla. Plane Jane, and I like it that way. But, as I am wont to do when I am in charge of a demo, I tasted it.

The bright, tart, citrus of the lime beautifully complimented (and was also mellowed by) the subtle, light, sweet coconut milk. The pairing worked, and I was surprised. Usually, if I want to be “adventurous,” I go for a fruit sorbet or chocolate ice cream. No toppings, no mix ins, and of course, no funky flavors. Ever. But, gosh darn, one taste of this sorbet and I was hooked! It took an obscene amount of self control to not eat all the samples. I feel like I should receive a medal or something for restraining myself.

A couple days later, I made Padre buy me some limes at the grocery store, and off I went to re-create the recipe. I used a little more cream than I ought to have, so it’s not essentially a sorbet, more like an ice cream.

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What I discovered was that the cream really mellows out the lime, which I did not like. The recipe I present now cuts the amount of cream in half. But really, the cream is just there to help with the texture, not the flavor. Coconut milk and lime juice alone make for somewhat of an icy texture, so the cream smooths it out. At most, you should only require a fourth of a cup.

As far as the olive oil cake is concerned, about a year or two ago I was pursing Food52 and stumbled across a recipe for Maialino NYC’s olive oil cake. It was one of the site’s most popular recipes, next to the one for chocolate cake, which remains my go-to recipe, despite the number of blogs that I read the number of cookbooks I have amassed. The olive oil cake has been on my “to make” list for a while, and after being introduced to some mighty fine olive oils at the cooking store, I took the plunge, bought a bottle, and whipped up (in one bowl, no less), this cake.

If you do not like the taste of olive oil, you’d be better off with the sorbet alone, although you needn’t be a connoisseur to appreciate the cake. Savor the light fruitiness of the oil, and tight, soft crumb, and the delicate crust. Food52 describes the cake as almost pudding-like, and they’re about right. Try it, even if you feel skeptical. And if you do like it, don’t be Padre, who cut himself a hunk and crammed it in his mouth. That is not the proper way to enjoy such a dainty, delicate dessert.

Paired together, the cake and sorbet make a good match. I would, however, highly recommend adding the lime zest to the sorbet (I skipped this to save myself from washing another utensil) and scaling back on the cream. The coconut milk and olive oil combined really can overpower the lime. I admit, the strength of the olive oil and its ability to mask other flavors surprised me, as it is generally unassuming if you aren’t looking for it.

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Here is the cake recipe. Instead of 1.25 cups of milk, you could substitute for 1 cup of creme fraîche. I did this because that is what I had on hand.

Coconut-Lime Sorbet

2.5 cups coconut milk

0.5 cup cream

0.25 cups lime juice

2 tbsp lime zest

1 cup sugar

  1. Make sure to freeze the ice cream bowl the night before, per manufacture’s instructions.
  2. Zest limes and place in a large bowl. Microwave limes in 10-second increments until slightly warm. Using the palm of your hand, roll limes on a hard surface to release the juice. Juice the limes and add juice to the bowl.
  3. Add cream, coconut milk, and sugar. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze per manufacture’s instructions. Approximately 20-30 minutes.
  4. Eat or freeze immediately.

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