As a kid, chocolate chip mint ice cream was my favorite flavor. In this, I was not alone. However, I was alone in thinking chocolate chip mint pares perfectly with caramel, and pare it I did, when I had the opportunity to have an ice cream sunday which was usually once a year with my grandparents, on the way to the Berkshires from New York City.
Askew glances from waitresses aside, I stuck to my guns. Glowing accounts of fudge sauce could not dissuade me. Nor could the sight of the stuff itself. I always preferred the golden tendrils off caramel cooling against soft minty mounds.
Many years later, I unsuccessfully pitched the idea to Ben and Jerry’s during a nationwide ice cream flavor contest. I forget which flavor won that year.
And so it has come to pass that I, on occasion, make my own ice cream. I try not to make it too much because it is so delicious.
But with a small but significant peppermint bush growing in my garden, and an excess of cream in my fridge, I decided to make some. The only sugar I had in the house was brown sugar and I decided to use it.
And so it was that I found myself back to the minty caramel marriage of my youth. Not quite caramel, but just an absolutely addictive undercurrent of caramel taste. Teasing in that way, so that you must take another bite just to make sure it’s really there. And another. Combined with the freshest, brightest mint (from garden to pot in 10 minutes), it’s a real delight.
Butter Mint Chip
Adapted from Elise’s Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream (she’s got pictures and step by step making instructions)
Here’s my version:
Put lots (2-3 cups) of mint leaves in a pot with 1 cup of whole milk and 1 cup of cream. Heat until just boiling, cover, turn off heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Repeat, but you can let it sit for less time. Strain out leaves, mashing milk out of them and put back mixture back into the pot.
Mix in 1/2 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of salt until dissolved.
Pour 1/3 or so of the milk mixture into 4 egg yolks, stirring constantly (you don’t want to scramble the eggs). Then pour the egg/milk mixture back in pot on the stove, turn up the heat to medium, stir constantly and make a custard. It’s done when the mixture thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t let it boil.
Strain into 1 cup of cream. Let cool. Sometimes I do this overnight. Sometimes I put this mixture in a bowl surrounded by ice first.
Once it’s cold, put into ice cream maker. I add a little bit of alcohol or vanilla, and chopped up chocolate. I like it chopped finely. I actually chop the chocolate first and put it in the freeze prior to the whole process.
After it comes out of the ice cream maker, it’s this beautifully soft and creamy ambrosia. You can eat it now. Or, if you put it in a container and let it freeze, it will harden a lot. Both forms are irresistible. It’s food that brings on the quiet and completely focussed concentration of my four year old. Bliss.
I have now made a chocolate ice cream with chocolate hunks and caramelized pecans and a Meyer lemon with slivers of dark chocolate. Uh… both delicious. It’s kind of ridiculous how good this stuff–too good. And so now, left with a huge number of egg whites left over I forge into new egg white-related domains…