You can’t buy this ice cream in a store. When it comes to mint chocolate chip, this is the real deal. That green is all natural and results from cooking (aka steeping if you want to get all technical) fresh mint leaves in half-and-half and cream. My mouth starts watering just thinking about it.
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this classic ice cream.
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup heavy cream, divided
- 1 cup packed mint leaves
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
In a medium size saucepan, combine the half-and-half and 1/2 cup of the cream.
Now add the mint leaves. Aren’t they gorgeous!
Cook over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. It takes about 5-6 minutes. You do not want to bring it to a full simmer and certainly not a boil.
Move the pan to a cool burner and let it sit for 20 minutes. This is the time for “steeping” when all of the oils from the mint mix with the cream to make it minty.
Meanwhile, separate the yolks out of your eggs. I find the most effective way to do this is to use your fingers to strain off every bit of white. Messy, but effective.
I save my egg whites and mix them with whole eggs to make low cholesterol omelets for breakfast, but you do with them what you will.
Next combine the remaining 1/2 cup cream to the 4 egg yolks.
Then add the sugar and the salt.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. The cream and yolks aren’t whisked in this picture. This is a case of “do as I say not as I do”. It’s pretty important to put the yolks, cream, sugar and salt together as I’ve described. If you add the sugar directly to the egg yolks, you might get clumps. If you add the cream first, it will always whisk up smooth. Of course, I failed to do that this time and it still turned out fine, but I got lucky.
When the 20 minutes of wait time are up, it’s time for a magic trick. You will incorporate the egg yolks into the hot cream without making scrambled eggs. This is how. Take 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture and slowly whisk it into the bowl with the eggs mixture. Don’t worry if some mint leaves come with it. You’ll deal with them later.
Now slowly pour the egg and cream mixture back into the sauce pan, whisking the whole time.
Cook this concoction together over low heat stirring with a wooden spoon the whole time and taking care not to let it simmer. WARNING: Do not walk away, do not stop mixing, do not try to make a PB&J sandwich for your child who is “soooooo hungry mommy”, do not go looking for your husband’s glasses. All this has happened to me during this crucial stage resulting in great disaster. Drive all distraction from your kitchen. If you let this simmer or, heaven forfend, boil, you will end up with scrambled egg ice cream which is not particularly appetizing.
When it’s done, it will look like this.
But even more important, it will coat the back of a spoon in such a way that you can draw your finger through it and it will leave a path, even if the spoon is tilted. In other words, it has thickened to a point, where it isn’t runny on the back of the spoon. Get it?
Now it’s time to take out the mint and anything else that will stand between your ice cream and smooth creamy goodness. To do this, pour the hot cream through a fine mesh. I’ve got a fancy one called a chinois, but any fine strainer will do.
Now bring this whole mixture to room temperature. The quick way to do that is to put it in an ice bath. Take a bowl that is larger than the container with the ice cream base and fill it with ice and cold water. Then place the container with the minty cream in that container. I like to use a 4-cup pyrex measuring cup for the cream and to hook the handle over the edge of the bowl as insurance against putting it too deep into the water. WARNING: Be careful not to let any water from the ice bath into the cream because that will make your final ice cream less good. Stir periodically and in about 30 minutes, your minty cream will be cooled.
Now it’s time to chill it even more because the colder it is when it goes into the ice cream maker, the smoother the final ice cream. Cover it with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream to keep it from developing a “skin”.
When you are ready to churn the ice cream, first you want to make the Chocolate Chip portion of our broadcast.
Place 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.
Give them a stir and microwave again for 5-10 second bursts until the chocolate is not quite completely melted. You want the chocolate to be melted, but not super hot because super hot means burned chocolate and also isn’t compatible with ICE cream.
Ice cream churning time! Turn on your machine so that it is running as you pour in the minty cream.
Freezing times will vary, but it takes about 20 minutes for mine to look like this. This consistency is sometimes described as like thick whipped cream. Once it begins to freeze, the more you churn, the more air will be incorporated and the more the ice cream will expand in the container. There is such a thing as too much churning, so be aware.
And you’re done. It’s delicious right away, but more like soft serve than traditional ice cream. Either freeze the ice cream in the freezer bowl, or scoop it into a chilled container. After about 3 hours in the freezer, it will have a consistency like gourmet ice cream. Enjoy.
Of course, it would be even better with a little Hot Fudge…