I have never been a huge fan of mint flavored things. To me they have always reminded me of gum or mouth wash (bleh). However, it was with one simple spoonful of mint ice cream at Taverna in Jacksonville, FL that changed my entire perception of this minty dessert forever!
I was celebrating the end of the semester with my culinary class, the chef had given us plate after plate of delicious food and when it came time for dessert, the ice cream of the day - mint chip was placed before us. I remember thinking, meh, I'll give it a try out of politeness but as soon as I took that first spoonful I was shocked at the delicious, fresh, herb quality that is REAL mint! You don't realize it, but the majority (dare I say all) of store bought mint ice cream doesn't actually contain any trace of mint leaves, they usually use a mint extract and tease you with the refreshing food coloring light green tint.
Another thing I like about this ice cream is that is doesn't have those big chunks of chocolate chip but instead you drizzle melted chocolate into the frozen ice cream creating that 'swirl' effect leaving delectable little chips of chocolate. Usually if you want a really creamy ice cream you use a mixture of heavy cream and whole milk, I decided to do all half and half because it was not only more affordable but half the calories AND you still get that creamy umami mouth feel.
Fresh Mint & Dark Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
makes 1 quart - Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
3 cups half & half
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups packed (80 gr) fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
For the chocolate 'chips'
1 cup of dark chocolate, melted
1. In a medium saucepan, warm the half & half, sugar, salt, and mint. Once the mixture is hot and steaming, remove from heat, cover, and let stand for an hour to infuse the mint flavor.
2. Remove the mint with a strainer, then press down with a spatula firmly to extract as much mint flavor and color as possible. (You can also use well-washed hands to do it as well, making sure the mixture isn’t too hot to safely handle.) Once the flavor is squeezed out, discard the mint.
3. Use a strainer to strain into another saucepan (to get any extra mint bits out) then rewarm on medium low heat. While heating, have egg yolks ready in another bowl, whisk them together, then slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly (you don't want scrambled eggs!) - then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Cook the custard, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. If using an instant read thermometer, it should read around 170ºF (77ºC). Stir the mixture over an ice bath until cool.
5. Refrigerate the mixture thoroughly, preferably overnight, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
6. While the mixture is freezing, melt the chocolate in a small bowl over a pot of simmering water, or in a microwave oven on low power, stirring until smooth. Place a storage container in the freezer.
7. When the ice cream in the machine is ready, scribble some of the chocolate into the container, then add a layer of the just-churned ice cream to the container. Scribble melted chocolate over the top of the ice cream, then quickly stir it in, breaking up the chocolate into irregular pieces. Continue layering the ice cream, scribbling more chocolate and stirring as you go.
When finished, cover and freeze until firm.