Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Ice Cream... For me, it's the quintessential sweet treat of summer. Recently, when I found myself in the unusual position of having a glut of egg yolks (resulting from an order for Financiers from a client), making ice cream seemed the obvious thing to do. And since my mint patch has been in dire need of a trimming, a mint ice cream of some kind seemed to be in order.

A couple of years ago David Lebovitz posted a delicious looking recipe on his blog for a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream that used loads of fresh mint instead of extracts and food coloring. The ice cream I made uses Lebovitz's mint infusion method and my preferred ice cream base.  For the liquid I use half whole milk and half cream and for each cup of liquid I use 2 egg yolks and 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar. As is my habit most of the time, I substitute honey for a little over half of the sugar (by weight)...I love the silky texture this gives. For this particular ice cream, choose a mild honey (clover honey is fine—I prefer raw). The effect is about the texture, not the flavor. If you don't have (or don't want to use) any honey, you can use all sugar. Just follow the directions in the "notes" section of the recipe.

My Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream was quite different from its store-bought counterpart. The mint flavor is front and center, aromatic and lingering. And the color is a beautiful pale, muted green. I loved the natural color imparted by the fresh mint, but I suppose if you want your ice cream to be a brilliant "minty" green, you could always add a drop or two of green color.

If you don't have your own large patch of mint (in need of a trim), you might try to find a friend who does have one. You will need a generous 2 ounces of mint leaves to make a quart of ice cream. You can also find mint at your farmers' market, where it will be more abundant and less expensive than what you will find at the grocery store (not to mention fresher). The resulting ice cream is absolutely worth the time it might take to find a plentiful source of mint. And I am certain that if you have only had commercial varieties of mint ice cream, you will find this one to be a true summer treat.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
pinch of salt
60 grams fresh mint leaves (2 cups tightly packed mint), well washed and dried
6 large egg yolks (120 grams)
1/3 c. sugar (65 grams)
1/4 c. honey (85 grams)
5 oz. semi-sweet or bitter-sweet chocolate, melted

Place the milk, 1/2 cup of the cream and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Heat until just beginning to simmer. Add the mint leaves. When the mint collapses and is submerged,

remove the pan from the heat. Cover and let steep/infuse for an hour or so.  (I let mine steep for an hour and a half, but be don't want it to be bitter or too strong.)

Place the remaining 1 cup of cream in a medium sized bowl and chill.

When ready to make the ice cream base, strain out the mint, pressing hard with a spatula or ladle to extract all of the liquid and as much color as you can.

Discard the mint. Set the strainer aside for straining the finished custard.

Return the infused milk/cream mixture to the heat and bring to a boil. While the milk is heating, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until smooth and thick. When the milk boils, temper the egg yolks by gradually whisking in about half of the hot milk. Stir the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thickened and forms a path when you draw your finger across the back of the spoon (if you like. you may check the temperature with an instant read thermometer—it should be about 170° to 175°). Immediately strain the custard into the bowl of cold cream. Add the honey and stir until the honey has melted. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. How you add the "chips" will depend on your style of ice cream maker. The basic idea is to drizzle the chocolate into the finished, softly set ice cream a bit (maybe an ounce?) at a time and fold it in before drizzling in some more and folding again. The process is repeated until all the chocolate has been added. The chocolate freezes almost immediately upon coming into contact with the frozen custard and the folding process breaks the drizzles up into chips. I have a hand-crank, chilled canister-type maker, so to add the chocolate, I removed the paddle from the ice cream and then added the chocolate using the process described above while the ice cream was still in its chilled canister. I then transferred the finished mint chip ice cream to a chilled container for the freezer. David Lebovitz suggests layering the chocolate into the ice cream as you transfer it into another container. He has good pictures of his process on his post.

Chill the ice cream until firm before serving. Makes about 1 quart ice cream.

Notes: To make an all sugar version (no honey) of the ice cream, use 3/4 cup (150 grams) of sugar. Whisk half of it into the yolks as directed in the recipe. Add the other half to the strained, mint-infused milk mixture while bringing it back to a simmer prior to tempering the egg yolks.

(Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)

Printable Recipe


Katrina said...

I have made fresh mint ice cream (using David's method also) 2 or 3 times and love it! After we sold our house in KS we lived in a duplex for a couple months before we left and a huge area of the backyard was mint. Loved it. Right now I just have one plant growing in my kitchen garden. We have so much land out here I'm tempted to plant some--I know it spreads, but I wouldn't mind. ;)

Paige said...

Katrina, I love it too...even though it spreads. Although, it took several years for my patch to take hold. It's so easy to rip it out when it starts to take over, that I don't mind its aggressive habit.

Unknown said...

Yum! This sounds so good. Right now I'm in the process of ripping out a ton o' chocolate mint that's invaded the garden. I let it go because I loved the arouma when I walked through it, but it's really overrun things. This would be the perfect thing to make with all that mint IF you think chocolate mint would work out. Any thoughts?

On a related matter, Cooks Illustrated advocates replacing some sugar with corn syrup for texture reasons. As we're trying to cut back on corn, your use of honey may be just the perfect alternative. Thanks!

Paige said...

I think Chocolate Mint would probably be pretty good in this ice cream...there's only one way to find out :)

And you are right about honey...I think it's a great alternative to corn syrup for ice cream.

Anonymous said...

What kind of mint do you use. Spearmint? Peppermint? Some other mint?

Paige said...

I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I don't really know what kind of mint I have in my garden. I purchased it from an organic grower at my farmers' market several years ago. I have always thought it was peppermint...but frankly, the leaves look more like what I think of when I think of spearmint: a little bit pointy and slightly ruffled at the edge.

I would think any culinary mint would work in this long as you like the flavor of your particular mint by itself.

Unknown said...

Paige, Wow! And, again, wow! We (Dennise's sister Kathy+ parental units who are visiting said sister in RI) made this two days ago with the chocolate mint. Since I'd ripped most of it out, just a bit was growing back. Thus we only ended up with 27 grams of chocolate mint leaves after we picked through it. But that seemed to be just the right amount. The chocolate breaking into shards at the end was like magic! And the taste was wonderful. Very creamy ice cream -- that stayed creamy when we finished it last night. So either the honey or the custard base (or some combination) created enough of an emulsion that the ice cream did not become "crystally" like so much homemade ice cream does. Jim says it's the best ice cream he's ever had! Thank you.

Paige said...

Hi Kathy! I'm so pleased you liked the ice cream. Thank you for letting me know. Interesting that it had plenty of flavor with much less mint...I had already cut it a bit from Lebovitz's recipe. Thanks again!