Friday, May 28, 2010
A couple of months ago, I welcomed a newcomer into my kitchen. I'd been speaking for ages of getting an ice cream maker, and I finally made an honest woman of myself and bought the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.
Now, you might be wondering why I haven't shared this unfathomably exciting news with you just yet. And there are reasons, some more exciting than others, some just mere effrontery and excuses for my general laziness and inability to sit down in front of a computer to a task requiring anything more than a three minute attention span. And it's probably a bit of all of those things, but what it comes down to, really, is that we just hadn't made anything together worth sharing.
Yes, the flavor of that dark chocolate sorbet was spot-on - rich, deep, all that wonderful stuff. But the texture left something to be desired - it wasn't quite as silken as it should have been. And sure, the vietnamese iced coffee ice cream tasted great - it paired the smooth, easy sweetness of sweetened condensed milk with that deep, rich flavor of a strongly brewed cup of coffee; so strongly brewed, in fact, that into the garbage it went, since even the mere two spoonfuls I'd sneak in before bed were enough to keep me awake for hours. I'll revisit both of those in due time, I have no doubt, but I knew that my ice cream maker and I, we could do better.
And so we did. Mint chocolate chip was always one of my favorite ice cream flavors growing up (coffee is the other), and it still ranks very high up there. I was convinced at a young age that the green mint chip ice creams tasted mintier than their colorless counterparts (except for Breyer's Mint Chip, which was pretty much the only white mint chip ice cream we had on constant rotation in our freezer when I was young). But these days I want the colors in my ice cream to be more muted - more of a byproduct of the actual, natural flavors than a distraction from the unnatural flavors imparted by a tasteless bottle of chemical-laden food colorings. And fresh mint brings such a clean bite that can't be matched by any amount of extracts, and it’s a bit softer around the edges than those artificial mint flavors. After all, we're eating ice cream, not gum.
This mint chocolate chip ice cream is great, though I still think it can get better. The amount of sugar was perfect - not too sweet in the least. The original recipe, however, called for a 2:1 ratio of heavy cream to milk, but I found that the cream dominated my palate a bit too much and stole a bit of the spotlight from the fresh mint. Next time I'm going to go for an even cup and a half of each, or maybe swap out the cream for half and half, as well as use a little bit more fresh mint. If you play around with the figures below, let me know how it turns out. I'll check back in after my next attempt.
The texture of the ice cream, though, was spot-on. Rich, eggy, silky smooth. It was awesome. It even had the faintest shade of green from that final squeeze of those mint leaves. I made this recipe a week ago, and, suffice it to say, it wasn't long for this world. But now that I'm armed with my ice cream maker, I know that there's much more where it came from.
Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz, original recipe here
1 cup 2% milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups tightly packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 cup chocolate chips, chopped to your desired consistency. I left some chunks larger than others, but for the most part chopped it finely.
1. Warm the milk, sugar, half of the cream, and salt in a small saucepan, but don't bring to a boil. Once warmed, add the mint leaves and stir until they're fully immersed in the liquid. Cover the mixture, remove from the heat, and let the mint leaves steep in the milk at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Strain the mint-infused mixture through a mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Press on the mint leaves to extract as much of the flavor as possible, then discard the mint leaves. Pour the rest of the cream into a large bowl and set the strainer on top.
3. Rewarm the mint-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the warm mint mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly as you pour, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Stir the egg yolk and mint mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (if you're unsure, run your finger through the liquid on the spatula, if it doesn't run, then you're ready to proceed). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (I let mine sit there overnight), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the chopped chocolate to the ice cream maker during the last two minutes or so of the churn.
Makes a bit more than a quart.