August 17, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Funny you should ask.  Yes, I am on an obsessive ice cream making binge. Do you have any compulsive quirks you would like to air on the web?

Grace and I made Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream this weekend with real mint from the farmers market.  If you like pure, natural, unadulterated flavors, you'll like this ice cream, but if you're looking for something to compare to that green stuff in the grocery store, this isn't it.  But I think it's so cool!  To be able to steep fresh mint from the garden or market and use that infused milk to make ice cream, that's neat.  I used David Lebovitz's recipe, so the process is exactly like that lemongrass ice cream I made earlier this month.

Normally, when buying store-bought ice cream, I go for coffee-chocolate-caramel-nut combinations.  I never thought I would be into 'herbal' ice creams, but there's something so pure about their flavor, that I really like them.  If I get a big enough harvest of chamomile from the garden this year, I'm thinking about doing a chamomile-lavender ice cream base with caramel and nuts mixed in.  Sounds a little weird, but I've been so pleased with the lemongrass and mint ice creams, why not try it?

You need a lot of mint to make this ice cream.  I bought a big bunch from the farmers market, but I still had less than the 80 grams of mint leaves the recipe calls for.  I had about 50 grams and those of us who tasted the finished ice cream (Jason, Grace, Abby, my mother, grandfather and me) agreed that the mintiness was sufficient.

I love the technique for making the chocolate chips.  As long as I can remember my very favorite ice cream flavor at Baskin Robbins has been Chocolate Chip.  I love the texture of the chocolate chips.  They are super small and imbedded throughout the ice cream base.  Have you ever folded chocolate chips into ice cream?  It's not so great:  hard little chips that, when cold, you can't really taste that well.  But with this method the 'chips' are smaller so that they have more opportunity to melt appropriately on the tongue, so that you can actually taste them.  Awesome.

And so simple:  All you do is melt semisweet chocolate, and when your ice cream is sufficiently churned, with the machine on, drizzle the melted chocolate into the ice cream.  The chocolate freezes into little ribbons and chips as the machine churns it into the base, and, if you use enough chocolate, incorporates it throughout the whole batch so that each bite is mint-chocolate deliciousness, not just mint... with chocolate chips.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Note:  While David L is the undeniable master of Home-Churned ice cream and should not be questioned... his recipes tend to call for five egg yolks; in my experience four of Farmer Chris' eggs are the perfect amount for making a good custard base without any egg-y flavor.  This recipe calls for 1 cup milk plus 2 cups cream, I used 2 cups milk and 2 cups cream, because I wanted to have a little extra ice cream to try the variation below.  With the additional milk, I imagine it might be less creamy than the original, but it's still plenty creamy for me.  Makes 1 to 1 1/2 quarts depending on how much milk you use.

1-2 bunches of mint to yield 80 grams mint leaves (2 cups packed firmly)
1-2 cups whole milk*
3/4 cup sugar
a pinch of kosher salt
4-5 egg yolks
2 cups cream
5 ounces semisweet chocolate

1.  Rinse mint and pat dry.  Remove leaves from stems.  In small saucepan, heat milk, mint, sugar and salt.  If using only one cup of milk, heat half of the cream with the milk. When mixture is hot and steaming, remove from heat and cover the pan.  Let steep one hour.

2.  Strain milk through a fine mesh sieve into medium saucepan.  Use a rubber scraper or a clean hand to push as much milk and minty flavor out of the mint leaves into the pan.   Discard mint.  Beat egg yolks in small mixing bowl.  Heat milk mixture over medium heat until steaming.  While stirring the egg yolks with a wire whisk, slowly drizzle half of the hot milk into the egg yolks to temper them.  Then scrape egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.  Heat, stirring constantly with a rubber scraper, until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. 

3.  Strain custard through a fine mesh sieve into a storage container to remove any curdled egg.  Stir in cream.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4.  Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

5. While churning, melt chocolate.  I prefer to do this in a double boiler (a small glass mixing bowl set over simmering water).  When ice cream has reached the desired consistency, drizzle the chocolate in to the still-churning machine.* Stop the machine and transfer to a ice cream to a storage container.  Freeze at least two hours for scoopability.

*If your machine does not allow drizzling while churning, David recommends drizzling melted chocolate into the storage container, then layering ice cream and melted chocolate, folding the mixture to break up the chocolate.

Mint Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream:  Use your leftover egg whites to make these Cats Tongues cookies.  Sandwich the cooled cookies together with melted chocolate. Cut cookies into bite-size pieces.  You'll want about 1 cup of cookie pieces for one quart of ice cream. You'll have cookies leftover.  Instead of drizzling in melted chocolate, fold cookie chunks into the finished ice cream in the storage container. Let freeze at least a day for the cookies to integrate into the ice cream. 

We can't decide which version we like better.

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