Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Growing up, my mother liked to grow her own herbs  - among many, many other things.  (Ah, if only I inherited her green thumb!)  And I can remember her saying how mint bordered on being a weed, in the sense that it quickly took over whatever spot it inhabited.

Boy was she right.

If you recall, I received a lovely Easter herb basket from Pammy and Douggy Vittles.  And in said basket was some mint.

Well a little over a month ago I had to transplant the mint into its own pot because it was literally strangling everything else in the original basket.

As it stands now, I would say that 'flourishing' is an understatement.  Despite the fact that some sort of bug appears to be nibbling on the leaves (which I have been after Mr. Vittles to take care of with his arsenal of insecticides from work) this plant is healthy as an ox.

But mint isn't like parsley or cilantro.  You don't use it in a myriad of dishes.

At least not ones that I'm aware of?  When I think of mint, I imagine ice cream and mojitos.

So my first order of business was to make some fresh mint ice cream.

Mind you, fresh mint isn't exactly like mint extract.  If you think you're going to make this ice cream and its going to taste like mint chocolate chip from the grocery store, think again!  I don't really know how to describe it, but it's definitely different.

Mr. Vittles came home while I was steeping the leaves and asked if I was "boiling salad."

Which I thought was a pretty good indication he was not going to like it - however, when it was done he said it was "really good."

So don't let the fact that it's not neon green turn you away.

Also - if you don't have an ice cream maker, don't let that stop you either.  I just found this great article on how to make homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker on another of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker.

Yay!!  You know what they say - I scream, you scream... :)  Enjoy!

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • 2 C. half and half
  • 1 1/2 C. fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 3 egg yolks 
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. light cream (or heavy cream, if you have it or you prefer it)
  • 1/2 - 2/3 C. mini chocolate chips
In a medium saucepan, heat half and half over medium heat.  Add mint leaves and bring to a simmer.  Remove pan from heat and cover, allowing to steep 30 minutes.

Once mint has steeped in half and half, prepare an ice bath (large bowl or pan of water with ice cubes).

Strain out mint leaves over a bowl, and discard the leaves.  Return half & half mixture to saucepan, and place over medium-low to medium heat until steaming but NOT simmering.

In now empty bowl, whisk egg yolks and then whisk in the sugar.  Pour in about half of the half & half mixture on the stove into the bowl with the sugar & yolks, and whisk to combine.  Pour contents of bowl into saucepan and whisk entire mixture (this is called "tempering" the yolks - if you add them all at once to the hot liquid they may curdle which is not good!)

Stir and cook about 6-8 minutes longer, until a custard forms (and coats the back of a silicone spatula/spoon).  Remove from the heat and place immediately in ice bath.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Once mixture is cooled, add in the extract and stir to combine.  Then add the cream, but do NOT stir.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

When mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  You will add the chocolate at the end, when the ice cream is almost frozen, and allow to churn 15-20 seconds to mix in the chips.

Loosely Adapted from Ice Creams and Sorbets by Lou Seibert Pappas

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