Let me spare you the pain from figuring this out yourself-
All mint are not created equal.
You’d think that’d be common sense right? After all, why have spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, and the likes if they’re all going to taste the same? I guess what I’m trying to say is, sometimes, you need to prepare yourself for disappointment.
A couple of weekends ago, my aunt gave my mother a mint plant. We My mother delicately set it into a small pot on our porch and within a week, it spouted leaves. I was so excited! One sunny afternoon, I even sat next to the pot, tracing the veins with my eyes and marveling at all that rich greenness.
Mint ice cream is one of those ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ flavors. For me, it’s beyond a ‘love it’ and as someone who believes that ice cream is a perfectly sensible choice for that question, “What three foods would you bring if you were stranded on an island?”, it’s difficult for me to label a flavor as my favorite. But there; I’ve done it, and mint gets the crown. You can’t ask me why it’s my favorite because any mint lover will tell you that it just is.
So, I decided to make my own fresh mint ice cream after enough leaves had grown. As with the other 99.9% of ice cream that I’ve made, this is another recipe from David Lebovitz. I’m still waiting to get my hands on a copy of The Perfect Scoop because I just always seem to miss it by a copy or two when I visit the Strand bookshop.
David actually just blogged about this, three days after I had churned my own quart. His is creamy gold with specks of quality chocolate while mine is green with frugal chocolate shavings. His scoops are solid, sturdy, and strong while mine are miserably melting in 90 degree weather. But let me defend myself. First, I like my mint ice cream green and a good dose of chemically induced greenness or what we call ‘food coloring’. Second, I ran out of chocolate so I had to use the five (yes, literally five) chocolate chips that I had left. Third, David is just that legit.
But no matter how green my ice cream looked or how smoothly it scooped out of the container, my freshly churned mint ice cream just tasted… off. It tasted nothing like the Turkey Hill mint chocolate that I’d go through gallons of each summer. Where was that sweet yet cool taste that I was so used to? My version was refreshing, but in a sharp way that felt like a pinch.
And that’s the disappointment I was referring to. I covered the container and threw the ice cream into the back of my freezer. Then a few days later, when I had exhausted all the other ice cream flavors in my fridge, I revisited the mint. And you know what? It was surprisingly better. The mint lost that “pinch” and somehow mellowed out.
Still, it wasn’t the same mint that I was used to from the store brought cartons. Part of it might be that my tastebuds automatically crave that manufactured mint taste or that its just not used to the herbaceous tones from fresh mint. Then again, mint ice cream never fails at those mom and pop shops where they also make their own ice cream (UNLESS IF THEY’RE LYING!!). So I came to the conclusion that…
I USED THE WRONG MINT!
When I do get my hands on some chocolate mint or mint that I know is destined to work, I’ll try this again. But until then, you can try it and let me know how it turns out for you.
Mint Chocolate Ice Cream
David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups packed (80 gr) fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, half of the heavy cream (1 cup) and salt. When the mixture begins to steam, add in the mint leaves. Remove from the heat, cover, and let it stand for an hour. It’s important that you wait at least an hour so that the mint flavors are infused into the cream mixture.
After an hour, remove the mint with a strainer while pressing down gently but firmly on the leaves to extract as much flavor and color as possible. If you really want it green (like me), add a couple of drops of green food color. Once the flavor is squeezed out, discard the mint.
Pour the remaining heavy cream into a large bowl and set the strainer over the top. (Do NOT pour the mixture into the cream just yet…) Then, rewarm the infused milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks, tempering them. Whisk constantly, and then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
Cook this mixture until it thickens and coats the back of a spatula (around 170F). Be careful as you don’t want to get scrambled eggs! When it reaches this custard consistency, immediately strain it into the cream. Let it cool in the fridge thoroughly, preferably overnight.
Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While the ice cream is churning, add chopped pieces of chocolate or drizzle melted chocolate. The churning will mix/break up the chocolate naturally, spreading them equally throughout the ice cream.