There’s something about summer that just makes me want to make and/or eat ice cream all the time. It’s unfortunate that these cravings also coincide with swimsuit season, because I’m pretty sure I eat twice as much ice cream during the summer than I do the rest of the year. One summer during college, I worked right next to a TCBY. Rarely did a “Waffle Cone Wednesday” go by where I was able to pass up the opportunity to get delicious yogurt at a great price.
When my boss told me to help myself to the abundance of mint leaves she grew in her garden, I started thinking of ways I could use it. I’m not a huge fan of mint leaves in recipes, but then it hit me that I could use it for mint chocolate chip ice cream.
After a little searching, I found a recipe on TheKitchn that called for fresh mint leaves instead of peppermint extract. In fact, it called for a whopping 3 cups of mint leaves – that’s a lot of mint leaves.
This recipe is not the easiest homemade ice cream you’ll ever come across, but it was so worth it. It turned out so creamy and fresh, and the mint flavor was not overpowering like it usually is with peppermint extract.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (makes two quarts)
About 3 cups fresh mint leaves
4 cups half and half (or two cups cream and two cups milk)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg yolks
6 ounces good quality dark chocolate (I used a mixture of Ghirardelli and Hershey’s Dark Chocolate)
Tear the mint leaves off their stems and put in a bowl. Pound with a pestle or large spoon just until they are bruised and give off their fragrance.
Whisk the half and half, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until it begins to steam, then remove, add the mint leaves, and cover. Let steep, covered for at least an hour – preferably two or three. (You’ll be heating this up again, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria.)
After a couple hours strain out the mint leaves and bring to just under a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and add a cup of the cream. Whisk it all back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, until the custard reaches 170º to 174ºF (I used a meat thermometer to do this part). Stir in the vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Chop the chocolate into chunks and flakes. Set aside.
Freeze the custard the next day in your ice cream maker according to directions (about 30 minutes total), adding the chocolate about halfway through. Transfer ice cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap under the lid touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze for at least four hours before serving (not sure why you have to do this because the texture is great when you first take it out, but we still followed this step).