DC’s pulled some fast ones this summer. I keep expecting those terrible Washington heat waves, and not that we haven’t had a couple — remember the day when I ate my way through a chili cook-off in 105-degree weather? dumby — but on balance, this city is seeming suspiciously temperate.
Still, I’m not one to press my luck. It wants to be 77 degrees out? Fine by me. And if Murphy’s Law is worth anything at all, I’m crossing my fingers that making ice cream might keep the summer demons away just a little bit longer.
Not just any ice cream, mind you. In this house, mint chocolate chip ranks right up there with mango, strawberry, and cucumber-basil as one of the most refreshing ice cream flavors there is. It’s an old favorite of D’s: she tends to alternate between it, oreo, and chocolate chip cookie dough. It’s probably obvious if you read this blog that I’m not big on either of those other two, but D surprised me with a trip to Portland over Memorial Day weekend, and I can’t let the wife-of-the-year award go to her completely uncontested. Enter homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Here’s the strange thing about homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream: it tastes almost nothing like store-bought variety — something that, even after years of replicating store-bought items at home to great success, I actually didn’t anticipate. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense. The main flavor in the homemade stuff that doesn’t come through in Breyer’s or Haagen Dazs is a distinctly green flavor, like you chopped up fresh mint, steeped it in milk, and then made ice cream. (Oh, right. That is what I did.) The milk tastes somehow sweeter and fruitier, the chocolate not in big hunks but in dainty drizzles, resulting from the “stracciatella” technique of splattering melted chocolate into the freezing custard in thin threads. Quite frankly, it’s the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure it earned me some points – makin’ a strong bid for wife of the month, at least.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups (80 g) lightly packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
4 oz good bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream, and salt over medium-low heat. When milk mixture is warm, add mint leaves and stir into milk. Cover pan, remove from heat, and let steep about 1 hour. When this process is completed, the milk should look ever so faintly green. It’s very exciting.
Strain the milk into a medium saucepan (you can strain it into a bowl and then back into the same saucepan as before), pressing hard on the mint leaves to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard mint leaves. Pour the remaining cup of cream into a fairly large bowl, and set aside.
Set the mint-infused milk over medium heat to rewarm. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks thoroughly. Once the milk has been rewarmed, add ladlefuls of the milk to the egg mixture to temper the eggs – work slowly to avoid scrambling the yolks. Once you’ve added a few ladlefuls of the milk to the eggs, pour the egg-milk mixture into the remaining warmed milk, and whisk to combine. Set over low heat. Stir constantly with heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, as mixture gradually thickens. Make sure the heat is as low as possible to avoid curdling your custard. When mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (or spatula), it’s done; remove it from the heat, and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl with the remaining cup of cream.
Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
While ice cream churns, melt chocolate in a double boiler until completely smooth.
At the very end of churning – we’re talking right before you transfer your ice cream to a container – drizzle melted chocolate into ice cream maker while running, so that the chocolate distributes itself in thin threads into the ice cream. Freeze thoroughly before serving.