Bodacious Herbaceous Mint Chip Ice Cream

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There have been a flurry of scholarly books published in the last few years on the history of ice cream, but one that preceded them, Anne Cooper Funderburg’s 1995 “Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla: A History of American Ice Cream” is still a favorite of mine for sheer depth of quirky fact and odd information. I loved learning, for example, that after the Civil War, street peddlers in big cities nationwide were known as Hokey Pokey Men–and that the cheap ice cream they sold was called “Hokey Pokey.” Even better? Funderburg’s explanation that etymologists still quibble over the origin of the Hokey Pokey moniker–some linking it to the Italian for “O, che poco!” Meaning, “Oh how little!” or “Oh how cheap!”¬† At any rate, American’s have loved the delicious result of freezing sugared creams and custards since the 19th century. Those basic cream recipes, and, the basic design for hand-cranked ice-cream makers (patented in 1846) still work today–and are especially good when made with the newly-more-available organic cream from grass-fed cows.

With a surplus of such cream hanging around after my son’s recent high-school graduation party, I dragged out my Mom’s old hand-cranked ice cream maker, had the guys at the local Ace Hardware lug some rock salt out of the snow-season storage room, and got to work.

First a word on the flavor we chose: Mint. As soon as my kids weaned, they switched over to drinking large amounts of something we call “milk tea”–basically, peppermint tea with milk and a little sweetener. Sounds like a mint ice cream base, right? Put that with chocolate and you have what my kids deem the perfect flavor combination.

To make our ice cream extra minty, we steeped our sugared cream with three full bunches of mint–about 6 cups of fresh mint leaves plus three mint tea bags. (This process looks a lot like the making of Thai coconut milk and basil soup) To give our ice cream the right creamy consistency, we went with a frozen custard (i.e. used a lot of egg yolks.) The main credit here goes to Chef/writer David Lebovitz, author of “The Perfect Scoop” whose mint chip ice cream method formed the basis of the recipe we riffed on.

 

Makes 15 to 20

Mint Ice Cream Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated cane sugar
  • 6 cups heavy cream (use organic cream from grass-fed cows if possible)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 cups fresh mint leaves, plus three mint tea bags
  • 7 egg yolks

Chocolate Drizzle Ingredients

  • 3, 3.5-oz bars Lindt¬† Swiss bittersweet chocolate, broken up

Instructions

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, warm all of the milk, all of the sugar, 2 cups of the cream and 1 tsp salt.

2. Add all of the fresh mint leaves and the three tea bags.

2. Stir leaves into the milk and when the mixture is hot through, but not boiling, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 1/2 hours.

3. Pour contents of pot through a large strainer into a large heatproof bowl. Squeeze any remaining liquid out of the mint leaves and tea bags into the milk; discard leaves and bags.

4. Pour the mint-milk back into the heavy-bottomed pot. (Reserve bowl.) Reheat pot until milk is quite warm. Set aside.

5. Pour the remaining 4 cups of cold heavy cream into the empty reserved bowl; place a strainer over the top.

5. In another, medium-sized bowl, whisk egg yolks. Slowly pour some of the warm mint-milk from the pot, into the yolks, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Add this yolk mixture back into the saucepan.

6. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

7. Pour the contents of the pot through the strainer into the cold bowl of cream, to remove any egg clumps. Stir custard and cold cream until mixed well and chill over an ice bath.

8. Refrigerate ice cream base overnight.

9. If using a hand-cranked ice cream maker, fill tin with ice cream base and secure lid. Surround the tin with ice and rock salt (4 cups ice to every 1/4 cup salt). Turn crank continuously for 30 to 35 minutes until ice cream freezes.

10. Melt chocolate at 50% power in microwave for 2 minutes, stir chocolate to ensure it is liquid.

11. Drizzle several spoonfuls of chocolate in large plastic freezer container; cover with 1 inch of ice cream. Drizzle with more chocolate; cover with another 1/2 inch of ice cream and repeat until all of the chocolate and ice cream is layered into the container. Cover top of ice cream with plastic wrap. Place lid on freezer container and freeze for 6 to 8 hours or until ice cream is solid.

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