Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

My ice cream maker sat idle for years, stuffed in the far back corner of one of my kitchen cabinets. But this summer, I've become obsessed with making ice cream. It's my husband's fault. We were watching an episode of Top Chef, the one where the challenge was to make a "final meal" for a celebrity chef, and I turned to him and asked, "what would you choose for your final meal?" Without hesitation he answered "ice cream." So, I thought, geez, I really should make some ice cream.

My first attempt, a salted butter caramel ice cream, was, sadly, a failure; the mixture tasted great but refused to freeze (I do plan to attempt this recipe again). Next, inspired by just-picked strawberries from my CSA, I made a really successful batch of fresh strawberry ice cream. Encouraged, I made nutella ice cream, which was great but a bit rich for my taste.

My latest effort is mint chocolate chip ice cream. A confession: It's not my husband's favorite, it's mine. Plus I happen to have a nice patch of mint in my herb garden, so I searched the web -- accepting some ideas, rejecting others (no green food coloring please) and came up with the following recipe:

3 cups fresh mint (leaves only)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups cream
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon rum (*optional)
6 ounces good quality dark chocolate

Whisk the milk, cream, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until it begins to bubble around the edges, then remove, add the mint leaves, and cover. Let steep, covered for at least an hour - preferably two. Strain out the mint leaves and reheat cream mixture to just under a simmer.

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and slowly mix in a cup of the hot cream to temper the eggs. Whisk eggs back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, until the custard reaches 170-174F (coats the back of a wooden spoon). Stir in the vanilla and rum, if using. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Chop the chocolate into chunks and flakes. Refrigerate chocolate.

Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker the next day according to directions. Add the chocolate bits about halfway through. Transfer ice cream to a bowl or plastic container, cover, and freeze for at least four hours before serving.
*The addition of rum (or perhaps a mint liquor?) helps keep the ice cream soft.

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