Monday, September 14, 2009
I Scream for More: Fresh Mint Ice Cream
Despite our unseasonably cool August, a really full schedule, and the fact that our thighs are already bulging from blog-food-induced weight gain, you'll be happy to know we've still persisted in the ice cream arena. We've been tackling recipes based on what's available locally -- so we've skipped around a bit.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the chocolate mint out in the garden was looking like it needed a bit of a hair cut (I love growing mint in the garden -- but it can get a little bit crazy -- so it helps to have a stash of ideas on hand so that you can use your harvest every now and again).
If you've never tried it, chocolate mint is a real pleasure. Not only is it a lovely plant with deep green, prettily serrated leaves, but it has lovely dark stems and relatively pretty flowers (for a mint plant). The mint flavor is strong -- and reminiscent of chocolate. Makes great tea, and is lovely added to iced tea or sprinkled OVER ice cream.
So, why not make it INTO ice cream?
I flipped through David Lebovitz's book and found his recipe, which conveniently calls for 2 cups of tightly packed fresh mint leaves. Perfect.
We clipped a seriously huge pile of the mint and shaved the lovely leaves from the woody stems.
Once we had an overflowing two cups of leaves, we went about gathering up the other four ingredients -- egg yolks (5), whole milk (1 cup), cream (2 cups), and sugar (3/4 cup) to start. (Häagen-Dazs prides itself on five ingredients -- but we'll do them one better... how about five lovely, fresh, local ingredients?)
First, you heat 1 cup of cream with the milk and sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, you'll steep the mint leaves in the hot mixture for about an hour.
During the steeping process, the "tea" turns a lovely minty green color (and begins to smell like a peppermint patty!). You'll rewarm it, incorporate the egg yolks, and cook it into the custard base for your ice cream. You'll know it's ready when it coats the back of a spoon.
At that point, you can take the the mint custard base and strain it into the remaining 1 cup heavy cream.
Mix everything altogether... appreciating the way the earthy green color melds with not-quite-whiteness of the cream.
Give the mixture a good chill over the top of an ice bath to give it a head start on the cooling process, and then toss it into the fridge for a couple of hours.
Once the mixture is really cold, you can pour it into your ice cream maker and let it work its magic.
The creamiest, mintiest ice cream you've ever tasted.
Using fresh mint gives this treat a fantastic herbal quality that you just don't get from recipes that use extracts. When Peef insisted we serve the ice cream with a little bit of chocolate syrup... well, I just couldn't complain.
This ice cream would be perfect in a mint-chocolate ice cream sammich. Or served alongside a decadent slice of flourless chocolate torte.
Or how about something a little bit different, and undeniably adult? ... a delightfully decadent mint julep shake??
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