Oh no, another ice cream recipe? Yessir. Perhaps I could just get an intravenous injection of this dairy dessert; it would save me quite the hassle. I’ll probably end up bringing my ice cream maker to college, a disastrous idea from a health perspective.
At college, I developed a real penchant for those Pint-sized containers of ice cream that they sold at the campus (in)convenience store, JumboExpress. My favorite flavor? Toll-House Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie. I hadn’t really enjoyed mint ice cream until recently. Well, I was flipping through a back issue of Gourmet when I came to a rather intriguing recipe for a mint ice cream terrine using real, fresh mint for flavor.
Homemade mint ice cream? The recipe claimed that going “au-natural” was such a great experience, that you would swear off that neon green artificiality forever. Hmmm, was this a challenge? Well, I didn’t have the time nor (more importantly) the energy to assemble a terrine. So I figured a basic mint chocolate chip ice cream would be a delightfully simple alternative for a labor-averse teenager like myself.
The recipe called for a cup of packed fresh mint leaves. The grocery store only carried island grown mint, and the scent was more spearmint than regular mint, but I had no real choice. I purchased one bunch, all of which I ended up using.
When blending, go for only ten seconds, any more and the cream is gonna start thickening on you. I dabbed my finger in for a preview and was disappointed by the grassy aftertaste. I instantly regretted my dairy endeavor, cursing myself for not simply playing it safe with a good vanilla bean or chocolate ice cream. But having poured all this money and time into the process, I decided to trudge on and give the recipe a fair chance. Besides, there’s no point crying over spilled heavy cream, right?
When I brought the minty cream mixture to a boil, the mint released its color, giving the ice cream a dark natural green, as opposed to that Las Vegas fluorescent green seen in most mint flavors. After tempering the egg yolk mixture, I poured it all back into the saucepan. No double boiler, but this time I had a little more courage than before. When the mixture was thick enough, I strained it; however, I wish my strainer was a little finer. The end product was a tad grainy. If graininess is a big concern, then don’t blend the cream mixture for as long. That way the mint won’t be as finely chopped. Once it was chilled (15 minutes or so), I churned it, adding the chocolate once the mixture had a chance to thicken. I used Hershey’s dark chocolate chips only because there were no bittersweet chips. Honestly, why does no one carry bittersweet chips?!?
Giving it a proper taste, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t as bad I had initially thought. Sure it was a little grainy, but on the whole it was quite good. The taste was totally different than commercial mint ice cream. To compare them would be comparing marashino cherries in the syrup to the “real” ones. The kid in me hated this ice cream, but my more mature taste buds enjoyed the unrefined and earthy flavor. Perhaps I’ll appreciate it more when I dig into my next pint of Flubbericious ice cream at college.
“REAL” MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM (serves 6)
recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine, July 2007
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk (I used half skim and half heavy whipping cream without a problem)
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup chocolate chips, bittersweet preferably (I find that excessive toppings detract from the flavor of the ice cream, but feel free to add more if this amount seems scant)
Combine the cream, milk, and mint in a blender just until mint is finely chopped, about 10-15 seconds. Don’t overdo it or you’ll end up thickening the cream.
Bring cream mixture to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, then let take it off the heat. While it’s cooling, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until it lightens in color, then slowly temper the egg mixture by gradually whisking in the cream mixture.
Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula, until custard thickens slightly and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). NOTE: I don’t have an instant read thermometer, so I used the old finger-smudge-on-the-spoon test.
Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve (the finer the better—I’d use a chinois ideally) set over a metal bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids.
Quick-chill custard by setting bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and stirring occasionally until cold, about 20 minutes (see photo).
Freeze custard in ice cream maker, adding chips towards the end of churning process (like five minutes before it’s done)