and, of course, ICE CREAM…
In the spirit of National Ice Cream month, as well as in an effort to beat the heat, I ventured to my back pantry to dust off my ice cream maker and spend the day in my air-conditioned kitchen making a cool, creamy treat. Last summer in a small bookshop on Orcas Island, I came across Jeni Britton Bauer’s cookbook Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Ever since then it has been my go-to source for reliably delicious ice cream recipes, whether it has been goat cheese and fig, salted caramel, or in this case, “backyard” mint. Selecting this recipe out of the dozens in the book surprisingly came easily to me; it looked simple enough for a lazy summer day, the ingredients were already handy in my refrigerator, and mint just so happens to be my favorite flavor. With my two girlfriends watching over me with sweat-ridden foreheads and empty stomachs, I began the nearly 10-hour process of making this treat. But boy, was it worth the wait…
The only alteration I made to Jeni’s recipe was chopping up some Godiva 85% dark chocolate and adding that to the minty base right as it came out of the ice cream maker and before it went in the freezer. The contrast between the light, creamy, and refreshing taste of the mint and the sweet, crunchy bitterness of the dark chocolate was beyond delicious. Ultimately this ice cream far surpassed any of my expectations, and has definitely kept me feeling cool and refreshed as we continue to suffer through the Los Angeles heat.
Backyard Mint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips
Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1¼ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
A large handful of fresh mint, leaves roughly torn into small pieces
¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the mint. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Refrigerate to steep for 4-12 hours.
[NOTE: If you want your ice cream to have a stronger mint flavor, leave it to steep for as long as possible. Mine only steeped for about 5 hours, and the mint flavor was apparent in the final product, but not strong.}
Strain out the mint. Pour ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy (about 8-10 minutes).
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.