When I was growing up, we had a garden of mint and it was reasonably contained. Mom used it for her lemon mint iced tea. I always like to have mint for that and several other recipes, so I planted a small plant, two years ago, in a large garden. After about a month, it died, or so I thought! Last year it increased in size but was not out of control. This year the mint patch is gigantic! We made a new raised bed where the mint is and it took two of us to get it out; me shoveling up the thick mass of roots and Peter whacking it with a sharp tool. There is still a lot there and I am loath to take it all out. Perhaps because it’s not all that cold here it is super invasive.
The other night we went to a wonderful pizza restaurant in Traveler’s Rest SC (Sidewall) where they make home-made ice cream as well terrific pizzas. That night the special flavor was mint chocolate chip. OMG was it good and it reminded me that last year I had looked up some recipes using fresh leaves. I wanted to share this with you as it’s so easy and quite delicious.
I Googled recipes and I used a little something from each blogger. (It was a very good first effort…) I decided that I wanted to use fresh leaves; I wanted to make “Philadelphia” style ice cream which does not use eggs and I wanted to try to make the chip part using the Italian Stracciatella technique. As in any recipe, people have strong opinions. The first is whether to use leaves or extract. The chocolate chip part can be disputed as well! One blogger maintains that chocolate chips for baking are waxy and as long as you are taking the time to infuse the leaves in the cream, you might as well make amazing chocolate bits. We have eaten a lot of gelato and have wondered about how they make Stracciatella. It’s fun and easy!
Here’s my recipe:
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups light cream
- 1 heaping cup of mint leaves (washed! no bugs allowed!)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 ounces of the chocolate you like. We used semi-sweet and next time will try bittersweet
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as safflower
Bring two cups of cream and the cup of mint leaves almost to a boil. (I got distracted and actually boiled everything but it was okay!) Let the mixture sit and infuse for about an hour. Strain the leaves out and put the pale green cream back in the pan. Add the sugar and the rest of the cream and stir until the sugar is dissolved. I like to put it into a measuring cup for easy pouring and cool it in the refrigerator for a day.
Before freezing the ice cream, melt the chocolate you like in the manner you like and stir in the oil. It will stay pour-able for several hours.
Make the ice cream as your machine directions say. When the ice cream is almost ready to come out, pour the chocolate over the ice cream as it churns. Our ice cream maker has a little opening that must just be for adding goodies at the end. The chocolate will freeze and break up and turn into perfect pieces! It is pretty random and has a nice crisp bite to it. If you don’t have an opening, one blogger suggested layering the ice cream in a container and pouring some chocolate on and repeating and then giving it all a stir at the end to break it up.
Scoop into a freezer container and let it harden, or eat it right away. It has a tint of green to it, but if you want it very green, add food coloring. I must say using leaves makes a dreamy taste – it is very different from store-bought chocolate chip mint ice cream. Another idea – Sidewall Pizza added some minced mint so that every now and again there was an intense bite of mint in your mouth.
Let me know if you try this!