So way back when I picked up my first share at the farm, there was a fresh mint plant included. I planted it in the herb garden, and while a few leaved were plucked here and there for various recipes, it has pretty much been left to its own devices since then. Much like what happens when a small child is left unattended for too long, it started to cause trouble. I went outside a few days ago to pick some herbs and could barely find the plants I needed as the mint had grown so much that its neighbors were almost completely covered! In retrospect, I do remember reading somewhere that mint can be somewhat aggressive in its growth, but I hadn't given it much thought at the time, and besides, since when is too much of an herb a bad thing? Well, live and learn! After some serious pruning, I had quite a bit of mint to use, and I knew there was only one way...
Before you get further in to this recipe, let me make sure its understood that this ice cream made with fresh mint is NOTHING like what you would typically buy in the grocery store; it is so so so much better that you may never be able to go back to store bought. When the mint is picked the same day you make the ice cream, the resulting mint flavor is wonderfully fresh and is subtle enough that you won't tire of it, but at the same time you never have a doubt that it's there. Imagine the smell when you bruise a fresh mint leaf; that is the taste you get. The other great thing about using really fresh leaves is that they will color the ice cream ever so slightly green, a effect that is almost always achieved with food coloring in store bought. Maybe its a good thing that my mint plant is growing so fast, because I'm sure that I'll be wanting to make this ice cream again as soon as this batch has been eaten!
This recipe is adapted from one on Williams Sonoma's website.
Share contents used
Mint (lots and lots of mint)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
1.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
3 oz good dark chocolate
1 cup (packed) fresh mint leaves
In a heavy pan over medium heat, combine the milk, 1 cup of the cream and the mint leaves. Heat until it just starts to simmer then remove from the heat and let stand for 20 minutes for the mint flavor to infuse into the milk.
Meanwhile, in clean a bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt and the remaining 1⁄2 cup cream and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk about 1⁄2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth then pour the egg mixture back into the pan.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and keeping the custard at a low simmer (do not boil), until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it. Strain through a sieve into a bowl, allowing all the custard to drain away from the mint leaves. Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice water, stirring occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.
Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and process per the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream is just about ready, add the chocolate pieces while the machine is churning and process just until the chocolate is evenly distributed. Transfer the ice cream to a air tight container and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours before serving.