Well, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and everyone is getting amped up with bright green clothing and decorations. Since Mardi Gras is over, the store are starting to stock St. Patrick’s Day baked goods, cookies and treats, all a lurid green from a generous application of food dye.
I’m just not feeling that this year. I mean, the green tee-shirts and beer, absolutely, but the crazy florescent cupcakes just aren’t doing it for me right now. I’m not getting down on food coloring. I use it to decorate things all the time; I’m just in the mood for something a little more subtle.
So I pondered what to make for several days and then it came to me — mint chocolate chip ice cream. Not the grocery store ice cream with that aggressive minty burn and saturated color of my childhood, but something made with real mint and with a delicate touch of green from those leaves infusing in the milk…
So I did a little research and came across a recipe from the ice cream guru himself, David Lebovitz. I have a lot of faith in David Lebovitz, especially when it comes to ice cream, so I had no problem following his recipe almost exactly as written, something I usually only do when it comes to baking.
This recipe takes a lot of mint. A lot. Like two large bunches. As David Lebovitz noted, the ice cream has a herbal note to it, peeking out from behind the minty flavor. When I first tasted it, I couldn’t place what it reminded me of. A little while later it came to me: the herbal note was reminiscent of the rosewater ice cream I’d had at a Persian restaurant, except, you know, good. Another way of looking at it, my neighbor’s older kid said it tasted like basil.
I found that the herbal flavor faded a lot over a few days, so if you find it a little strong at first. Give the ice cream a few days to mellow out. I really liked the ice cream in both its herbal and mature phases, so prepare yourself to enjoy a whole myriad of minty good flavors.
One reminder before you go to town with your ice cream making bad self, this takes at least a day to make with all the chilling time and everything, so don’t dive in expecting ice cream in just a few hours unless you have a stellar, swanky self-refrigerated ice cream maker. If you’re like the rest of us mere mortals, you probably also need to remember to throw your ice cream bowl in the freezer at least 24 hours before you’re going to use it.
- 2 C Cream
- 1 C Milk
- ¾ C Sugar
- 2 C fresh Mint, packed (180g)
- pinch of Salt
- 5 Egg Yolks, large
- 4 oz Chocolate (bittersweet, semi-sweet or a mixture thereof)
- Combine 1 C of cream, the milk, sugar, mint and salt in a pot and bring it to a simmer. Cover, turn off the heat and let the mint leaves steep in the hot milk for one hour.
- At the end of the hour, prepare an ice bath before straining the mint out of the milk, pressing and squeezing the leaves to get all that tastiness out of them. Discard the mint leaves.
- Reheat the milk until just before it starts to simmer.
- Whisk the egg yolks until smooth and then slowly pour about half of the hot milk into the yolks, whisking fiercely all the while.
- Pour the warmed yolks back into the pot with the rest of the milk and continue to stir or whisk the liquid until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This should occur around 170 degrees F. Remove the custard from heat.
- Add the remaining cup of cream to a bowl. Strain the hot custard into the bowl with the cream and stir well before placing the bowl in the ice bath to cool.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and move the custard to the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or, even better, overnight.
- When the custard has fully chilled, add it to your ice cream maker and continue pursuant to the directions of your ice cream maker manufacturer.
- Towards the end of the churning time, melt the chocolate in either a double boiler or in your microwave on low.
- When the chocolate has melted, drizzle some of the chocolate over the bottom of the ice cream receptacle, making a lacy pattern rather than coating the surface.
- Transfer a layer of ice cream to the container and drizzle another portion of chocolate over that layer. When it freezes, break up the chocolate with a spoon or spatula and stir it into the ice cream to make little chocolate bits. Continue layering ice cream and chocolate and stirring until you have all the chocolate you want in the ice cream, then move the ice cream over to the freezer to set for several hours.