This ice cream has been a year in the making.
I had grand plans to make mint chocolate chip ice cream last summer. I bought fresh mint leaves at the farmers’ market in D.C. I let them steep in milk for a couple hours and I refrigerated the milk mixture overnight. I tempered some eggs and cream to make custard. I poured the cream mixture into my ice cream maker and pressed the “on” button.
Nothing happened. I jiggled the bowl around a little and adjusted the paddle. Still, the ice cream wouldn’t churn. Finally, I took the bowl off the base and inspected the bottom. There was a huge crack. It was one of the most disappointing moments of my life. I ended up drinking the mint cream like a milkshake and weeping.
Flash forward to this past Saturday. I got a new ice cream maker for my birthday and I wanted the inaugural batch to be mint chocolate chip. It’s my favorite flavor. I don’t get people who say that it tastes like mouthwash.
Maybe it does if you’re eating the highly processed, faux-mint variety. For this ice cream, I’d recommend springing for the good ingredients. Fresh mint tastes waaay better than mint extract. Also, a high-quality brand of chocolate for the chocolate chips will go a long way. I found some leftover Guittard in my pantry but feel free to use your favorite brand.
The original recipe for this mint chip ice cream called for churning the ice cream mixture according to manufacturer’s directions. That’s semi-helpful but it doesn’t tell you when you should turn the machine off.
Your ice cream is done when three things happen: First, the ice cream will start removing itself from the sides of the bowl and becoming one big clump in the middle. Second, you’ll start hearing a clicking sound from the paddle. Once those two things happen, you can turn the machine off and light run your finger along the top of the ice cream. If the valley left by your finger stays, the ice cream is ready. (This is also a delicious way to try a few bites, or more, of the ice cream.)I hesitate to say that this is the best ice cream I’ve had in my life…but it is. Maybe it’s the buildup talking. After all, I waited a year to enjoy this treat. That’s a record for me in terms of delayed gratification.
Still, I think that this ice cream is superior by any standards. It’s refreshing and slightly sweet, the perfect combination for a hot summer day when all you feel like doing is sitting under a tree with a tall glass of iced tea and a book.
In other news, it’s almost Independence Day. I don’t really feel in the holiday spirit given our country’s current leadership but I’m happy that I have a day off work tomorrow.
Here’s a song that I’m jamming out to in the meantime.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
pinch of salt
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Place the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream, salt, and mint leaves in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the mixture becomes hot and steaming, remove it from the burner and cover. Let the mixture sit for an hour, covered, to infuse the mint flavor and green color.
After an hour, pour the mixture over a strainer placed above a bowl. Using very clean hands, squeeze the mint leaves to get out every last drop of color and flavor. You can also do this will a spatula above the strainer, but I found that the hands method is the best and easiest way. Once you’re done, discard the mint.
Pour the remaining cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and place a strainer above it. Place another bowl filled with ice beneath this bowl to create an ice bath.
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Place the infused milk back in the saucepan and rewarm over medium heat. Slowly pour some of the rewarmed milk into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Then pour the yolk/milk mixture back into the saucepan.
Heat the custard, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 170 degrees F or 77 degrees C. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove it from heat and pour it over the strainer into the bowl with the cream. Continue to stir that mixture with a spatula over the ice bath until it’s cool.
Once the mixture is cool, remove the bowl from the ice bath, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Also place a storage container in the freezer so it’s cold by tomorrow.
Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers’ instructions. It should take about 20 minutes, but you’ll know the ice cream is done when the mixture starts separating from the sides of the bowl. If you turn off the machine and run a finger lightly over the top of the ice cream, and the valley left by your finger stays, you’ll know that the ice cream is done.
While the mixture is freezing, prep the chocolate for the chips. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave at low power.
Once the ice cream is done churning, remove the storage container from the freezer. Scribble in a little chocolate then add a layer of the fresh ice cream, scribble in another layer of chocolate, and then mix a little to distribute the chocolate and break up the pieces. Continue this process until you use up all the ice cream and chocolate. Drizzle the top with the remaining chocolate, seal the container, and place in the refrigerator for a few hours. Freeze the mixture until firm.