I had been meaning to make some fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream for the longest time, but every time I had some mint on hand, I would forget to put my ice cream maker bowl in the freezer. I recently acquired massive amounts of mint, and finally planned ahead! I've made ice cream before where I used whole eggs, which is less rich, but still works well. This time I decided to go all out and make a very traditional French-style custard-based ice cream using just yolks. Also, instead of using equal parts whole milk and heavy cream (which would require me to purchase two items I didn't have on hand, since I never buy whole milk to consume), I decided to just get a quart of half and half, which is essentially the same thing. It made grocery shopping one step easier.
I decided to make some yummy candied mint garnishes for the ice cream. I lightly beat an egg white until it was frothy, but still liquid. I dipped each mint leaf into the egg white, lightly "blotting" some of the excess liquid off the leaf along the side of the bowl. Then I laid each mint leaf in some white sugar and coated it nicely. I lightly tapped the leaf to release any excess sugar and placed them all on a wax paper-lined tray and set them aside for several hours to dry out. Half way through the drying process, I carefully flipped them over (some were dry underneath and some were still wet, so I used a metal spatula to carefully release the wet ones) so they could finish drying on the other side. The candied mint tasted like sugary mint candies! Delicious and a lovely alternative to using plain, fresh mint leaves as a garnish.
Frothy Egg Whites and Sugar
Wet Leaves Drying
Candied Mint Leaves
Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart
4 cups half and half
3/4 cup sugar, separated
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
8 egg yolks
3.5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Heat the half and half, 1/4 cup sugar and mint leaves in a saucepan over high heat until it begins to bubble, about 10 minutes. Lower heat and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for another 15 minutes. Taste to see if the mint flavor has infused to your liking, and steep longer if needed. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl.
Carefully ladle some of the hot half and half mixture into the egg yolks and whisk. Tempering the yolks will help prevent them from curdling when you add them back into the hot half and half. Now, add the yolk mixture into the saucepan and whisk. Turn the heat up to medium. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir constantly until thickened, but do not let it boil. Strain the custard into a bowl over an ice-water bath. Stir the custard in the bowl constantly until it is cool.
Then refrigerate the custard for several hours or overnight until well chilled. Transfer the custard into a container with a spout (for easy pouring into the ice cream maker). Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer directions, adding the chocolate during the last few minutes of freezing.
Transfer ice cream to a plastic quart-sized container and freeze until firm. If it gets too hard, you may need to leave it out for a few minutes before scooping (this is common with homemade ice creams).