It’s summer time! The days are hot, the sun lingers longer, and life is lived outdoors. Time for cool and refreshing treats to complement this glorious time of year.
I recently returned from a trip to Europe, which included a stop in Belgium. And what does one do when one’s in Belgium? One buys chocolate, of course.
Upon my return, I found the mint on my patio garden had exploded in a pre-summer growth spurt.
But what am I going to do with pounds of ultra dark Belgian chocolate and a bumper crop of mint? Make ice cream, of course!
As a kid, one of my favorite ice cream flavors was mint chocolate chip, and it remains one of my top 10 faves today. So, here’s my recipe for mint chocolate chip ice cream.
*WARNING: This is not a low-cal recipe. It is heavenly good, but you’re going to have to do some serious cardio to work off these calories. Challenge accepted.*
Start by lightly muddling 1/2 cup mint leaves in 1 cup of half-and-half. Sadly, I was too excited about the prospect of this amazing dessert that I neglected to take pictures of this step. So, you’ll have to use your imagination here.
Place muddled mint/half-and-half mixture, plus the remainder of the half-and-half, and all of the heavy cream into a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
Split one half a vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise, and scrape out all the good stuff. Put the good stuff and the vanilla bean pod into the sauce pan.
Add 1/2 cup sugar into the cream mixture, and bring mixture just to a boil.
Remove pan from heat and fish out the vanilla bean pod.
Add the remaining mint leaves and let steep for 30 minutes.
If you like a milder mint flavor, this is the time to remove the mint leaves. If you like a stronger mint flavor (and I’m all about the mint) use an immersion blender to blend mint leaves. I like the Kalorik Sunny Morning Immersion Blender. After steeping, strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove the mint leaves. Return the cream to the sauce pan and return to heat and bring back to a boil.
While cream is reheating, add five egg yolks, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, to a bowl. Use a hand mixer to whisk the eggs and sugar until they have lightened in color, gotten thicker, and increased in volume. The picture above is the before image.
Here’s the after image. See the dramatic difference in color and volume? That’s what you’re looking for.
Temper the egg mixture by slowly drizzling in the hot cream mixture about a half cup at a time, while stirring quickly and constantly. After incorporating 1-2 cups of the hot cream into the eggs, pour the egg/cream mixture back into the sauce pan.
Stir the mixture constantly over a low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Pour mixture into bowl and cover top with plastic wrap so a film doesn’t form on the top. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or overnight, until mixture is completely cool.
Pour mixture into your favorite ice cream maker. I like the Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt & Ice Cream maker.
While ice cream is in machine, chop chocolate into tiny pieces. After 20 minutes in the ice cream maker, add the chocolate and let it whir around for another 10 minutes.
Now this is the hard part…
Don’t eat it yet.
Transfer your soft-serve-consistency ice cream into freezer containers, and freeze for 2-3 hours, or overnight, until completely frozen.
Or, if you want, sit down with a spoon and eat the entire container right there. It’s your call, really.
And now comes the best part….EAT!
Here’s the complete recipe. Enjoy!
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar, divided
5 large egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean pod
1-2 cups mint leaves
2-3 ounces of your favorite chocolate, chopped very small
1) Lightly muddling 1/2 cup mint leaves in 1 cup of half-and-half.
2) Pour muddled mint mixture, remaining half-and half, and all of cream into a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
3) Scrape all the seeds out of 1/2 of a vanilla bean pod and place seeds and pod into cream.
4) Add 1/2 cup sugar to the cream mixture and bring just to a boil.
5) Remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean pod, and add remaining mint leaves.
6) With an immersion blender, blend mint leaves (optional).
7) Let mint leaves steep in cream mixture for 30 minutes.
8) Return cream to medium-low heat to reheat just to a boil.
9) While cream is reheating, combine remaining sugar with egg yolks and whisk until color has lightened and eggs have thickened and increased in volume.
10) Reduce heat to low.
11) Temper eggs by slowly drizzling about 2 cups of hot cream mixture into eggs while stirring constantly and briskly.
12) Return egg/cream mixture to sauce pan and cook over low heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon.
13) Pour into a large bowl, and cover surface with plastic wrap so skin doesn’t form.
14) Refrigerate for 2-3 hours, or until completely cool.
15) Pour cooled mixture into ice cream maker.
16) After 20 minutes add chopped chocolate and let mix for another 10 minutes.
17) Transfer to freezer containers and place in freezer for 2-3 hours or until frozen.