Once upon a time, I thought that all Naval Aviators looked like Tom Cruise and that mint chocolate chip ice cream tasted like mint.
Turns out I was wrong on both accounts. I’m not sure which one was more disappointing.
To 99% of the population, mint chocolate ice cream tastes like mint. I was part of that 99% until I made my own mint chocolate chip ice cream when I discovered that the stuff that you buy in the store does not taste like mint. It tastes like mint flavoring.
We’re so programmed to equate mint flavoring with the flavor of actual mint that even the most food-obsessed of us (hello, there) don’t realize that mint-flavored ice cream tastes nothing like ice cream infused with real, green-blooded, American mint.
I wonder how many 1986 female cadets cried into their pillows every night when they realized Tom Cruise was nowhere to be seen, and that the freshly-Bic’d plebes were the only available man meat for the next four years?
Here’s what you need to know… during my year-long sabbatical from blogging, I became obsessed with making my own ice cream because (a) it’s fun, (b) I love ice cream, and (c) it tastes heaps better than anything you’ll find on any grocery shelf. Mint chocolate chip is one of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors, and I finally decided to make it. I thought it would be nothing more than the best version of mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever tasted, but I was wrong- it was unlike every other mint chocolate chip I’ve ever tasted because it was made with real mint. Not natural mint flavor or mint extract… real mint. Not even Haagen Dazs and Ben and Jerry’s can say that.
Fresh mint has a sweet flavor, and it marries beautifully with the sweet, luscious ice cream custard. There’s no harsh I-just-brushed-my-teeth taste after eating this ice cream, as is the case with many minty things, like Peppermint Patties or most other commercial mint chocolate chip ice creams. You just let fresh mint leaves steep in the cream-and-sugar mixture as it cools, strain it out when the desired mint flavor is achieved, and then proceed making ice cream. At the end, you mix in chocolate chips, not ‘chocolate-flavored chips.’ (That term is just so wrong on so many levels. Much like a mullet.)
One caveat- you must really like the flavor of fresh mint to love this ice cream. If you like homemade mojitos, your mint-loving day has just been made. If you like mint tea, I’ll hang out with you the morning after hanging out with the mojito crowd, but your mint-loving day has been made, as well.
If you like ‘chocolate-flavored chips’ then we just can’t be friends.
I promise that no matter how much of a food snob you are/your husband tells you you are, when you make this ice cream your mind will be blown by how much you bought into the idea that store-bought mint chocolate chip tastes like mint. But once you make it, you’ll be part of the 1% of people who know the difference. Maybe we could have an Occupy Haagen Dazs with signs and protests and people in tents outside their franchises world-wide? Or we could all just make Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream at home and be happy, minty people.
I like that idea better!
- 2 c heavy cream
- 1 c whole milk
- ¾ c granulated sugar
- Sea salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ c tightly packed, coarsely torn fresh mint leaves
- 6 T semi-sweet chocolate chips
- In a medium saucepan, mix 1 c of the cream with the milk, sugar, and pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3-4 minutes. Stir in mint leaves, cover the saucepan, and remove from heat. Let mixture sit for about 1-2 hours to allow the flavor to infuse.
- Once your custard has achieved the desired amount of fresh, minty flavor, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal or glass bowl (one that holds at least 1.5 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl- this helps the custard cool more quickly when you pour it in later. Set a fine mesh strainer on top.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl, set aside.
- Rewarm the custard over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan again (1-2 minutes). In a slow and steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly- it should be thick enough to coat the stirring utensil and hold a line drawn through it with a finger. This will take 4-8 minutes. If you want to be really precise, this will at about 175-180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Don't let the custard overheat or boil, or it will curdle.
- Once the custard has thickened appropriately, immediately strain it into the cold cream in the ice bath. The strainer will catch the mint leaves, as well as any tiny curdles that may have formed. Stir the custard and cream together until completely incorporated, then let the custard hang out in the ice bath until cooled to about 70 degrees.
- Once the custard is cool, chill it in the fridge for about 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Just before the ice cream stops churning, add the chocolate chips, and turn the machine off once they are evenly mixed throughout the ice cream. Transfer the ice cream to an air-tight container and freeze solid for at least 4 hours.