Friday, August 19, 2011

Natural Mint Ice Cream

I've been coveting David Lebovitz books for awhile now, but while we were on our Traverse trip to BlogHer, I finally bought one. I've tried a few of his recipes via his site and both turned out so amazingly well that I couldn't wait to get my hands on a whole cookbook. (Seriously, the lemon curd was to DIE for. As was the Chocolate ice cream)

Of course, the one I wanted was The Perfect Scoop. I have an ice cream maker now, so why not get one that compliments it, right? As Alexis and I browsed the stacks of Powell's books in Oregon, I held my breath in hopes that I'd find a copy.

And I did.

The first recipe I decided to try was mint ice cream, since right now mint is easy enough to find in your gardens, and I have been dreaming about mint ice cream for awhile now. Not just plain mint, but mint with chocolate, as in Junior Mint candies scattered throughout. When I made this however, I was a little lazy and chose to make a chocolate swirl instead. (instructions coming soon).

Before you make this, you need to know that it won't take like mint ice cream you are used to. Artificial mint flavor has more of a toothpaste-ish mint flavor, whereas this one, created by steeping milk and cream with fresh mint leaves, has a more herb-like flavor. It's still mint, but not as strong, and it's certainly different from the artificial flavor. Also, it's not green. Imagine that! Also, while home made ice cream isn't necessarily really hard to make, there is a definite process to it that you have to follow. Make sure to read all the instructions through and have everything out and ready to go before you start, to avoid having any recipe meltdowns. Now, if by reading this you still aren't clear on the process, let me know. I'll happily include photos!

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

Real mint ice cream isn't green-imagine that!

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)
pinch of salt
2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks

In a medium sized saucepan, stir together the milk, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of the cream. Warm the mixture up (don't boil it), and then remove it from the heat, add the mint, put a lid on, and let it sit for an hour and steep.

When the hour is up, pour the minty milk through a strainer into a medium sized saucepan. Press on the leaves to get as much minty goodness out as you can, and then throw away the mint leaves.

Don't put the strainer away-now, get a large bowl, pour the remaining cup of cream into the bowl, and set your strainer on top. You are going to need it later to strain your custard, and it's a good thing to have it all ready to go before you start. Set aside.

While you are at it, get a bowl of ice water ready that is big enough for the bowl that is holding the whipping cream to sit in. Later on you are going to need to sit that bowl holding the whipping cream and your finished custard in the top of the ice water bath and stir to cool it down. Not huge mind you, but enough that the bottom of the bowl holding the whipping cream will touch the ice water. You will want to stop the cooking process and make your custard cool quickly. Set aside.

Crack your eggs and separate them, tossing the whites (unless you have something you can use them for) and keeping the yolks in either a large pyrex measuring cup or a medium sized bowl. Whisk the egg yolks together and keep them near the stove.

Back to the minty milk in the saucepan waiting for you. Warm it up over medium low heat, stirring constantly. (don't let it boil!) When it's good and warm, gently pour a little into the eggs, whisking well as you go. Add the milk little by little, whisking constantly, until it's all incorporated. You have to be careful here, just adding the milk little bit by bit, and whisking things really well as you go.

What you are doing is tempering your eggs by adding it bit by bit. Otherwise the hot mixture would just cook the eggs. Ew!

Now that your eggs and warm milk are all mixed together, you need to cook the custard a little. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture will coat the back of a spoon. (the temperature of the finished custard will be between 170 C - 175 C) again-don't let it boil!

To test if it's ready or not, run your finger across the back of your spoon. There should be a definite line that doesn't fill right back in right away.

Remove the pot from the stove, and pour the mixture through your strainer into the bowl with the remaining cup of whipping cream, stirring. This is to catch any eggy bits that might be in your custard. Nestle the bowl onto your bowl with ice/ice water, continuing to stir so that the cooking process is halted and the custard is chilled quickly.

When it is cool, pour the custard into a container and chill overnight. You could probably chill it for less time, but I find that overnight gives you a better result.

Process your ice cream according to your ice cream maker instructions.

Makes 1 liter

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