Memories of Mint Chip Ice Cream
When I was a kid, Baskin-Robbins may have touted its 31 ice creams.
But in my book, there were only two that really mattered.
Chocolate chip. And mint chip.
OK, so my palate was not very expansive at that time.
But I knew what I liked.
And to me, you couldn’t go wrong with vanilla ice cream with crunchy bits of dark chocolate throughout. Or its green cousin with an unmistakable hue and a taste as invigorating as a light wind blowing across your face on a warm summer afternoon.
As an adult now, I still love those two flavors. But I am more finicky. I so appreciate a mint ice cream that gets its flavor from real mint leaves, not just a bottle of mint extract.
So when I spied this recipe for “Mint Chip Ice Cream” that infuses a heavy cream-milk base with a heap of fresh mint leaves, I was smitten from the get-go.
It’s from the new cookbook, “There’s Always Room For Chocolate: Recipes from Brooklyn’s The Chocolate Room” (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy.
Husband-and-wife team Jon Payson and Naomi Josepher founded the dessert cafe, The Chocolate Room, in 2005 in Brooklyn. They wrote the book with food writer Georgia Freedman.
Like them, I, too, believe there is always room for chocolate. Sure beats Jell-O, right? Especially when presented with such decadent recipes as “Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake,” “Black-Bottom Butterscotch Custard” and “Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies.”
The “Mint Chip Ice Cream” recipe makes quite a lot — 3 pints — using 12 extra-large egg yolks. I actually cut the recipe in half and it turned out just fine.
It’s a simple ice cream recipe; but I made it even simpler.
That’s because the original recipe was a little fussy in the number of steps it required. To make the chips, you’re supposed to melt dark chocolate, then transfer it to a squeeze bottle. After churning the ice cream in your machine, you’re supposed to remove a third of it to a casserole dish, then squirt on some of the chocolate, before sticking it in the freezer for a few minutes. You repeat this step two more times until you’ve added all the chocolate. Then, you freeze the ice cream in the casserole, before transferring it to a storage container.
OK, call me lazy, but I just didn’t think all of that was required. Plus, what the heck was I supposed to do with the rest of the ice cream while that small portion went into the freezer for a few minutes? Just leave it on the counter-top, while it slowly started to melt? Keep on churning it in the machine again? Or?
So as you’ll see in the revised recipe below, I streamlined all of that. I melted the chocolate in the microwave, then let it cool a little before drizzling it straight off a spoon onto a third of the ice cream that I had spread in a container that I intended to store the ice cream in. The drizzled chocolate will set immediately upon contact with the ice cream, so you don’t have to put it in the freezer for a few minutes. Instead, just spread on the next layer of ice cream, drizzle more chocolate off the spoon, and repeat a third time until you’ve used up the chocolate.
It doesn’t matter what the drizzles look like. Once the ice cream freezes firmly a few hours later and you scoop it out, you’ll end up with crackly chips of various sizes throughout.
The fresh mint leaves that are steeped into the base mixture before being strained out give the ice cream a pale avocado-ish color.
Rich and velvety, it’s plenty minty tasting with a clarity of flavor. Not in an overpowering toothpaste-like way, but just enough to tingle the taste buds most delightfully.
Mint Chip Ice Cream
(Makes about 3 pints)
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh mint, torn into small pieces by hand
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
12 extra-large egg yolks
6 ounces dark chocolate (preferably 70 percent cacao), coarsely chopped
In a large saucepan, combine the mint and 1/2 cup sugar. Smash and muddle the mint and sugar together with a wooden spoon until the mint is thoroughly bruised and the sugar has taken on enough moisture that it looks like slightly wet sand. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally. When it has come to a boil, remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the mint with a rubber spatula to make sure you’re extracting all the flavorful liquid, then return the infused milk mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar on high until the yolks are a little bit pale and form ribbons, about 2 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then whisk for a few seconds until well combined.
With the mixer on medium-high, pour about 3 cups of the hot milk mixture into the eggs in a slow, steady stream to temper the eggs. Turn off the mixer and pour the tempered egg mixture into the pan with the remaining milk mixture, whisking briefly.
Strain the ice cream base though a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and let cool, then refrigerate overnight.
Transfer the chilled ice cream base to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.
While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring to keep it from burning, or microwave it in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until it becomes liquid. Allow to cool slightly, but still remain a pourable consistency.
When the ice cream has churned, transfer one third of the still-soft ice cream into a freezer-safe container. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula to form an even layer. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the ice cream layer in a zigzag pattern, first going up and down and then side to side; you should end up using about a third of the melted chocolate. Next, spread on top another third of the ice cream. Repeat step for drizzling the chocolate on top. Then, spread on the last third of the ice cream before drizzling on the remainder of the chocolate. Cover the ice cream and freeze until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
From “There’s Always Room For Chocolate” by Naomi Josepher, Jon Payson, and Georgia Freedman
More Ice Cream Recipes to Try: Bananamon Ice Cream