fresh mint ice cream

July 11, 2010 § 12 Comments

I sometimes secretly wish I was one of those Martha Stewart-y types who are just good at life. Not so much because of matching napkin rings and handmade centerpieces, but the useful stuff, like herb gardens. It would be so great to just toss fresh herbs into my meals without spending money on an entire bunch, and then letting the surplus die a horrible death in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, though, I have an alarming inability to keep plants alive. I first discovered this when I bought a houseplant – after that died, I moved on to sturdier specimens, like cactuses. Now I have a dead cactus. I try not to think about what this trait might mean for any future children of mine.

Luckily for me, mint is incredibly tenacious. It’s basically a weed, so I figure if I just stay away from it, it’ll grow. Now it’s overtaken a fair chunk of my backyard, and I have a continuous supply of mint for any of my baking needs. The first thing I’ve used it in is this ice cream, and it was really incredible. It’s very different from storebought mint ice cream – I think it tastes more herbal, both because the mint is fresh, and because it’s spearmint as opposed to the more common peppermint. I folded chocolate in, because I love it, and the crackling bittersweet shards were a great contrast. It’s really a spectacular ice cream and I recommend that you plant some mint just to make it. But if you lack my superior gardening skills, I’m sure the farmer’s market has some that will work just as well.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream – from The Perfect Scoop

    1 cup whole milk
    ¾ cup sugar
    2 cups heavy cream, divided
    Pinch of salt
    2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
    5 large egg yolks
    4 ounces bittersweet chocolate. chopped.

In a medium saucepan, gently warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and the salt. Once warm, mix in the mint leaves, cover, and let stand for an hour to infuse the milk.

Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer, pressing firmly on the leaves to extract as much of their flavour as possible. Rewarm the mixture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the heated milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from cooking.

Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, and scraping up the bottom of the pot. Cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula – if you run your finger through the coating it should leave a line that doesn’t flow back together. Pour the custard through a strainer into the remaining 1 cup of cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath, then refrigerate until cold (preferably overnight).

Put a storage container in the freezer. Freeze the custard an ice cream maker according to its instructions. While it’s churning, gently melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. When the ice cream is ready, quickly layer it in the prepared container, drizzling in the melted chocolate and stirring as you go.

The ice cream is wonderful freshly churned but still very soft, especially if you drizzle in the warm chocolate. It will firm up nicely in the freezer, but I recommend taking it out 5 minutes before you want to eat it to let it soften up again.


lessons learned from butter pecan ice cream

August 9, 2009 § Leave a comment

Lesson 1: Butter pecan ice cream is incredibly, spectacularly delicious.
Lesson 2: Don’t overfill your ice cream machine.

I’ve been away at my father’s cottage this week, and one upside (beyond the lake, the forest, seeing my family, and all that other minor stuff) is that he owns an ice cream machine! Not having one myself, I jumped at the opportunity to experiment. I wonder how much ice cream I can cram into a single week…

Anyhow, this recipe was absolutely fabulous. If you’re looking for a rich ice cream to make, this is definitely one to try. The ice cream is sweet and creamy and flavoured with brown sugar and vanilla, and it’s perfectly offset by the buttery, salty nuts. I know that sentence had too many adjectives, but they were all well-deserved.

Although it turned out amazing, there definitely were a couple glitches along the way. The first one was pretty minor, and basically just amounted to me being nervous. I cooked the custard at higher and higher heat, waiting for it to thicken. It never really did and I just gave up – next time I won’t worry so much, and just take it to the recommended temperature.

The other issue was that the poor little ice cream machine couldn’t quite cope with the vast quantities of liquid I poured into it, despite what it and Epicurious respectively claimed about the number of quarts involved. The result was that the ice cream never got quite cold enough – I think the photos make it pretty obvious that it ended up pretty liquidy (but you can pretend it’s gelato!). It’s also obvious that I have not mastered the art of photographing ice cream, but that should surprise no one, given that I don’t seem to have mastered the art of photographing anything in particular.

In the end, though, this ice cream really was fantastic (after an overnight freeze it firmed up nicely), and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially with those corrections. Here it is!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream – Adapted from Epicurious

  • 1 1/3 cups pecans, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter, softened
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon salt (go easier on the salt if you don’t like the salty/sweet combination)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Toast pecans in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven until fragrant and a shade darker, 7 to 8 minutes. Add butter and salt to hot pecans and toss until butter is melted, then cool pecans completely (they will absorb butter).

Whisk together brown sugar and cornstarch, then add eggs, whisking until combined. Bring milk and cream just to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then add to egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly, and transfer custard to saucepan.

Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170 to 175°F on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes (do not let boil). Note: I ended up taking this to 180 and it still didn’t really thicken, so don’t stress too much.

Immediately pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and stir in vanilla, then cool, stirring occasionally. Chill custard, its surface covered with wax paper, until cold, at least 3 hours.

Freeze custard in ice cream maker until almost firm. Stir together ice cream and pecans in a bowl, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

Note: I would freeze the custard in two batches, unless your ice cream maker is superior to ours (which is likely).

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