If you’ve never made fresh mint ice cream, today is a fantastic day to change that. Homemade mint ice cream — with or without the added chocolate — is a revelation whose refreshing taste delightfully belies its rich texture. As pastry chef Dana Cree notes this recipe from her new cookbook, Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop, peppermint (not the more common spearmint) leaves are key. Seek them out at your local farmers market, or pick up a tiny bottle of peppermint oil at a health foods store. If you must, stir in a couple of handfuls of mini chocolate chips once this ice cream is done churning for a killer scoop of mint chocolate chip.
Garden Mint Ice Cream
Makes just over 1 quart of ice cream
Mint ice cream is rarely eaten without chips of chocolate and a squeeze of green food dye. It’s really too bad, because the flavor of fresh mint leaves steeped in ice cream is light, fresh, and a far cry from the bracing green scoops. The flavor in conventional mint ice creams has little to do with the mint leaf and more to do with the menthol compounds that make peppermint flavoring.
If you have fresh peppermint leaves, lucky you! Use them in this recipe and omit the peppermint extract. However, for most of us there is no peppermint patch out the back door, and we must employ both the fresh spearmint leaves (a.k.a. standard grocery-store mint), and a touch of peppermint extract. (If you can find peppermint oil, use that instead! It’s cleaner flavored than the extract, which often combines peppermint oil and alcohol.)
I think a white mint ice cream is quite lovely, but if mint ice cream doesn’t taste like mint to you unless it’s green, you have options. Green food coloring is obvious, or you can tint the ice cream green with spirulina. Sam Mason at Oddfellows Ice Cream in Brooklyn blends a portion of his mint ice cream base with fresh mint leaves moments before the ice cream is churned, capturing the chlorophyll from the green leaves before it oxidizes. (If you do this, be sure not to run the blender for more than a few seconds, or you may turn the cream to butter.)
Milk powder (2%) 20g | 3 tablespoons
Sugar (15%) 150g | ¾ cup
Cream (38%) 380g | 2 cups
Milk (40%) 400g | 2 cups
Glucose (5%) 50g | ¼ cup
Fresh mint, stems and leaves 25g | 1 ounce (about 1 handful)
Peppermint oil or extract 1g | ¼ teaspoon
Texture agent of your choice (see below; pick one)
1. Best texture
Commercial stabilizer 3g | 1 teaspoon mixed with the sugar before it is added to the dairy.
2. Least icy
Guar or xanthan gum 1g | 1/4 teaspoon whirled in a blender with the ice cream base after it is chilled in the ice bath.
3. Easiest to use
Tapioca starch 5g | 2 teaspoons mixed with 20g | 2 tablespoons of cold milk, whisked into the ice cream base after it is finished cooking.
4. Most accessible
Cornstarch 10g | 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, mixed with 20g | 2 tablespoons of cold milk, whisked into the simmering ice cream base, then cooked for 1 minute.
Boil the dairy. Place the cream, milk, and glucose in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, whisking occasionally to discourage the milk from scorching, until it comes to a full rolling boil.
Add and cook the milk powder. Whisk the milk powder mixture into the pot. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue cooking for 2 minutes 4 , whisking to prevent scorching 3 .
Infuse the mint. Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the fresh mint, and allow it to infuse for 30 minutes.
Strain and chill. Strain the base through a fine-mesh sieve into a shallow metal or glass bowl, discarding the mint. Working quickly, fill a large bowl two-thirds of the way with very icy ice water. Nest the hot bowl into this ice bath, stirring occasionally until it cools down 2 .
Add the peppermint oil. When the base is cool to the touch (50°F or below), stir in the peppermint oil.
Cure. Transfer the ice cream base to the refrigerator to cure for 4 hours, or preferably overnight. (This step is optional, but the texture will be much improved with it.)
Churn. Place the base into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is ready when it thickens into the texture of soft-serve ice cream and holds its shape, typically 20 to 30 minutes.
Harden. To freeze your ice cream in the American hard-pack style, immediately transfer it to a container with an airtight lid. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming, cover, and store it in your freezer until it hardens completely, between 4 and 12 hours. Or, feel free to enjoy your ice cream immediately; the texture will be similar to soft-serve.
Reprinted from Hello, My Name is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop. Copyright © 2017 by Dana Cree. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Andrea D’Agosto. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
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