Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

For as long as I can remember, mint chip has been one of my favorite ice creams. I had attempted it once or twice several years ago using mint extract, but it always tasted a bit off to me. Not like toothpaste, but just a little fake, despite using pure mint extract.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}Recently I came across a recipe using fresh mint, and with an overly bountiful mint plant taking over my garden it seemed a prime opportunity to give it a try. Using my standard recipe but steeping plenty of fresh mint leaves resulted in exactly what I was looking for: a strong mint flavor without the somewhat fake-seeming taste that comes from an extract.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}Herbier than your standard grocery store variety, this one reminds me a bit of the lemon basil from last year in that there is no doubting the fresh herbs involved. Mine turned a vaguely pale green, but your mileage may vary. I am not a fan of food coloring but will not begrudge you adding a few drops if you feel the need. Minty and creamy with the lightness that only fresh herbs can bring, the flavor is definitely one of my new favorites.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}The last bit to solve during my mint chip adventure was the “chip” aspect. I considered using chocolate chips but I prefer my mix-ins smaller even than mini chips, and the flakier chippy ice creams have always been my favorites. Conveniently, I attended a fantastic Italian cooking class a few weeks ago in which we made coffee gelato (I know, right?) in the stracciatella style. Traditionally, stracciatella is vanilla gelato with chocolate shavings but the process is easily used with any flavor. Simply pour melted chocolate (I used dark chocolate, of course) into the ice cream maker during the last few minutes of churning and it does all the heavy lifting for you. The chocolate freezes upon hitting the cold ice cream and the churning process breaks it up into small pieces while evenly incorporating it. My overused ice cream maker struggled a bit with the amount I used but all that really meant is I had to stir it a smidge as I put it into my bowl for the freezer – no big deal at all.

Mint Chip {{Baking Bytes}This chocolate process was shockingly easy and super delicious, and I’m confident I’ll be incorporating it into other flavors in the future. Regardless as to whether you add in the chocolate, give this fresh mint ice cream a try and let me know what you think!

Fresh Mint Chip Ice Cream

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves1

1/2 cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla

~5 oz dark chocolate, chopped2

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, half and half, sugar, and mint to a light boil, stirring regularly.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to steep for one hour.
  3. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, squeezing the mint leaves to retrieve as much liquid as possible (I just used my hands for this, much easier.)
  4. Whisk in the egg substitute and vanilla, then cover and place in the fridge until completely chilled, or overnight. (Put a lidded bowl in the freezer to get nice and cold at this time.)
  5. When mixture is completely chilled, churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  6. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler (or in a small metal bowl over simmer water) until smooth.
  7. During the last few minutes of churning, slowly stream the chocolate into the ice cream.
  8. If necessary, gently stir the ice cream with a spatula as you transfer it to your chilled bowl.
  9. Return to freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Notes

I did not measure particularly carefully since too much mint doesn’t seem like a problem; aim for at least 2 large handfuls.

I used about 6 oz of  68% chocolate because that is what I had laying around. It definitely was not too much chocolate but for the health of my mixer I would likely use closer to 5 oz next time. The darker the better in my opinion but use any level you wish!

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream

Despite not being much of a whiskey consumer in beverage form, I often love whiskey-infused dishes. Whiskey can really amp up the flavor profile of a recipe, and works in everything from caramel sauce to pork chops. Having experimented with numerous other alcoholic ice cream concoctions, I wanted to play with a new liquor this year.

 

One of the few whiskey beverages I do enjoy (other than the delightful whisky liqueur I got while I was in Scotland nearly a decade ago) is a whiskey ginger. This is actually a bit odd since I don’t always love a prominent ginger flavor, and I rarely drink soda, but somehow it all comes together in a refreshing beverage perfect for a hot summer day. Accordingly, this seemed like an appropriate thing to ice creamify.

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Having zero experience with whiskey, I turned to my friend the whiskey connoisseur for advice. After asking a few questions about my goals, he ultimately recommended 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey as one to put in my ice cream. This turned out to be a delightful recommendation, not only because it tastes awesome as an ice cream, but also because  as well.

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

With whiskey in hand (or rather, on the counter) I set out to create my whiskey ginger ice cream. I opted to flavor with honey rather than sugar since the cocktail itself often incorporates honey rather than a simple syrup, and it seemed like a delicious flavor match. The ginger aspect was easy enough, since infusing anything with freshly grated ginger root is both easy and delicious, but as I wanted the whiskey flavor to be prominent, and adding liquor to ice cream drastically lowers its freezing point, I knew this particular recipe could pose a scientific challenge.

Round one had good flavor but was extremely soft – it never frozen beyond soft serve texture even in our coldest meat freezer. This was not quite what I was looking for, mostly because I’m not a huge soft-serve ice cream fan but also because it makes it extremely challenging to photograph and as a food blogger that’s actually quite important.

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Round two I used a bit less whiskey and a bit less ginger. It turned out firmer, which was ideal, but me and my taste testers agreed it lacked the punch that a cocktail ice cream truly deserves. Not to say it wasn’t delicious, but just was not quite there yet.

Round three was the ultimate winner. With the knowledge that cooked eggs are how you make a proper custard, I decided to try adding the egg substitute during the heating step rather than after. As I’d hoped, this minor change allowed me to add a proper amount of whiskey while maintaining at least a passably firm texture once completely frozen. Mixing in plenty of ginger resulted in a definitively cocktail-like but still creamy mouthful.

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

This ice cream is definitely still one of the softer recipes I have on my blog, and you will want to serve it quick, even using chilled bowls if you can. It packs quite a punch of flavor and there should be no mistaking either component if you’re using the higher end of the whiskey range. If you prefer a mellower profile, use a lesser amount; as a bonus, your ice cream will freeze a bit firmer too.

A small scoop of this ice cream is a perfect summer treat, and for any real whiskey lovers you can serve it affogato style with a splash of extra whiskey on top. If you’re into it, a sprinkle of candied ginger would also be a fun addition and would give a small clue to what’s in store for your guests.

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking for a new way to pare down the liquor cabinet , look no further than this whiskey ginger ice cream.

Whiskey Ginger Ice Cream

Makes about 6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
6 oz honey
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger1

1/4 – 1/2 cup whiskey (I used 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey)2

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring all ingredients except whiskey to a light simmer, stirring regularly.
  2. Continue to simmer at least 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Mixture should be quite thick – this is imperative for the final ice cream to freeze hard enough.
  3. Remove from heat to cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, or overnight. (Put a lidded bowl in the freezer to get nice and cold at this time.)
  4. Stir in 2 Tbsp whiskey to thin the thick custard slightly, then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the ginger pieces. Use a whisk in the sieve to get as much of the creamy goodness as possible, then press the remnants with the back of a spoon to extract just a little bit more.
  5. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions, adding the remainder of your desired amount of whiskey during the last couple minutes of churning time. (See note!)
  6. Scrape ice cream into your frozen bowl, then put in the freezer to finish firming. Due to the alcohol this recipe will always be somewhat soft (especially if you use the maximum whiskey amount) so putting it in the coldest spot of your coldest freezer is your best bet.
  7. Enjoy plain or “affogato” style with an additional splash of whiskey on top. I recommend using chilled bowls for serving!

Notes

If you prefer a milder ginger taste, you can use one tablespoon instead.

For a stronger whiskey flavor use up to but no more than 1/2 cup of total liquor; for a milder taste use just 1/4 cup. Please note the more alcohol you add the softer the ice cream will be! I used the full amount and the ice cream is permanently in about soft-serve consistency, even in our -11*F meat freezer.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream

[Welcome again to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Each year as I add to my repertoire of ice cream flavors, I get bolder with the non-traditional palates and pairings in my  concoctions. However, I also make a point to include one or two flavors that are more along the lines of “normal” for my less-adventurous fans. This is one of those more common recipes.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

“Mexican” or “Aztec” ice cream and hot chocolate are fairly common, but typically they are also pretty mild. Heavy on the chocolate with a vague notion of spice in there. As someone with a pretty low spice tolerance, I can only imagine that those with a higher spice preference are even more bored with these flavors. For this one, I was inspired by a fantastic legitimately spicy hot chocolate from Summit Spice & Tea Company my equally fantastic but probably less spicy aunt sent to me for Christmas: dark chocolate and with a kick – it was a beautiful match.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Modifying the same recipe I used for last year’s Chocolate Merlot adventure, I set off to create an actually spicy ice cream. Given how much I loved the Maple Chipotle from two years prior, I was certain this adventure would be a grand one.

My first attempt was a bit mild for what I was going for (although still delicious) so I heavily exaggerated the spices on my next attempt. Honestly it was a bit much for me (I told you my tolerance is low) but my friends loved it and thought it was perfect. Rich dark chocolate smoothly combined with the slow-burn of ground chilis, it’s one of those flavors where the heat hits you late in the spoonful rather than right away. If you find your batch to be too strong, tone it down with a nice fudgy brownie and/or a drizzle of chocolate sauce. I promise it’ll be amazing.

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Take your next taco Tuesday to a whole new level with the perfect dessert: spicy chocolate ice cream!

Chocolate Chili Ice Cream 

Adapted from Molly Moon
Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 – 1 tsp ground aji amarillo pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

6 oz dark (~70%) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup egg  substitute
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat half and half, whipping cream, and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just coming to a simmer.
  3. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and whisk vigorously until there are no chocolate flecks. If you are having trouble getting it completely smooth, an immersion blender works great, or you can pour it into a regular blender after a brief cooling period.
  4. Let cool on the counter about 10 minutes, then whisk in egg substitute and vanilla.
  5. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator completely, or overnight.
  6. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  7. Enjoy solo or with a fudgy dark chocolate brownie for an extra decadent dessert.

Notes

1 For reference, 1/2 tsp of each is reasonably mild, 1 tsp of each is a bit much for me but perfect for my spicier-minded friends; adjust to your liking. Feel free to use all cayenne as well (or any other chili pepper)!

 

Guinness & Baileys Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Brownies are one of the few things I almost never make from scratch. Costco sells 6-packs of Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix which is what I nearly always use. Super chocolately, even more super easy, and the perfect fudgy texture that I love. Honestly, most homemade brownies are not as consistently good as this mix.

However I have been known to doctor up the mix a bit, swirling in peanut butter or folding in additional mix-ins. Brownies are one of my go-to desserts for potlucks because we always have them on hand and they are always well received; the fact that they only require five minutes of active cooking time is also a huge bonus.

A few weeks ago I decided to try out a cheesecake swirl, blending up the standard cream cheese and sugar combination that is beloved by many. It was, expectedly, a huge hit. Given the upcoming holiday, this gave me the idea to blend in typical St. Patrick’s Day flavors as another option to add to my repertoire.

Admittedly, this makes the recipe a tad more time consuming as reducing the Guinness is not a quick process. Fortunately you can do this ahead of time and just store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. This makes the day-of process much quicker and allows you to do the reduction while you’re already minding something on the stove. It’s relatively low-maintenance so plopping it on a back burner while you make dinner would work just swell.

Despite having an entire bottle of Guinness, the change is subtle. Rather than smacking you in the face with beer, it simply enhances the chocolate and adds a nice robustness to the flavor profile. If you didn’t know it was in there, it might be challenging to put your finger on the mystery addition. It blends perfectly with the Baileys cream cheese for a supremely decadent but not extravagant dessert experience. And honestly, if you want to skip the Guinness part and just swirl in the Baileys cream cheese to regular ‘ole brownies, I would not judge you one bit. You could also skip the reduction step and just measure out standard beer, but I expect the flavor would be even less pronounced. (I also had the idea that Kahlúa in lieu of Guinness would be an excellent flavor pairing, and this may be my next brownie adventure.)

If you need an easy but delicious St. Paddy’s Day dessert, this could be the recipe for you. And if you’re looking for a crazier and more kapowy Guinness experience, then Irish Car Bomb Sundaes might be right up your alley.

Guinness & Baileys Cheesecake Swirl Brownies

Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients

1 bottle Guinness beer

1 box Ghirardelli brownie mix (I use Triple Chocolate)
1/3 cup vegetable oil¹
1 egg

8oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Baileys liqueur

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer Guinness until reduced to 1/3 cup¹. Pour into a medium bowl and let cool about 10 minutes or until ready to use (this is a great step to do ahead of time while you’re cooking something else on the stove).
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a square pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Add oil and egg and mix until well combined. Stir in brownie mix until just combined.
  4. Reserve about 1/2 cup of brownie mix, and spread remainder into prepared pan.
  5. In a small bowl and using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy.
  6. Beat in egg and sugar until well combined, then beat in Baileys until just combined.
  7. Spread evenly atop brownie mix.
  8. With reserved mix, add spoonfuls on to the cream cheese mixture, then use a table knife to swirl in a pattern.
  9. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until brownies are still slightly wiggly but not watery.
  10. Allow to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes, then lift parchment paper to remove and cool completely.
  11. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares, wiping knife between each cut for clean slices.

Notes

¹ Or however much water/oil your brownie specific mix calls for.

Mini Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (& Vanilla Bean Ice Cream)

Several years ago I bought a fancy Pampered Chef stoneware mini fluted pan at a garage sale for like ten dollars. I promptly put it in a cupboard and mostly forgot about it because I have a standard bundt pan as well and if I’m honest, I simply don’t make many bundt cakes other than the delightful lemon one from a few years ago. If I’m more honest, the exhausting trial and error of finding that lemon bundt cake kinda turned me off to the entire style of cake for a while.

In any case, I eventually came across an amazing looking chocolate chip cookie double-bundt cake creation from Sprinkle Bakes and her description of the flavor was basically “yes please”. Chocolate chip cookies in pretty cake form? Please put that in my mouth.

On the other hand I certainly don’t need to make the double-layer version because if I have that much cake around I will just eat it. (M would probably not consider this a problem, to be fair.) I have fantastic willpower when it comes to not buying food that is terrible for me, but I have almost no willpower for anything in my line of vision at home. Things I have learned about myself over the years are summed up by “it’s easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it.”

But I don’t want to avoid it completely, obviously, which is why I made the “mini” version. I put the mini in quotes because six of these mini cakes is the same amount as one standard bundt, which means each cake really serves two people. A fantastic way to test out my “new” pan and a new recipe all the while being fairly confident it’ll be delightful because both Pampered Chef and Sprinkle Bakes are extremely reliable. Fortunately, my hypothesis was correct.

All the comforting flavor of a chocolate chip cookie baked into a pretty fluted bundt. It is just the kind of cake to pair beautifully with ice cream, and I opted for vanilla bean for the pretty speckles and traditional flavor pairing. I shared my recipe below, but feel free to pair with your favorite store-bought variety instead. If vanilla seems too plain, chocolate is always a good bet, or you could pair with strawberry for a summer flavor and some fun color. One cake and a large scoop is a perfect dessert for two, and is a wonderful way to end a celebratory day.

Since there is no leveling, frosting, or really any extra presentation required, this is a fantastic option for those times you need to need a less time-consuming but still impressive dessert. It also travels well since there’s no frosting to fall off or glaze to slide around, and is quick to assemble once you arrive at your destination. You could even scoop the ice cream ahead of time to save on required utensils and remove the need to let your ice cream soften beforehand. Plop on a scoop, drizzle on some chocolate sauce, and you are all set for a flawless and decadent experience. It would also be a super cute addition to a couples’ dinner party, if you’re in to the host(ess) gig.

As you may have noticed, I molded my ice cream into heart shapes. Since I made this for our anniversary dessert, I like to do a little something extra to make it special. If you’re interested in this, just line mini cake pans of your choice with plastic wrap, then spread softened ice cream (if you’re using homemade, just do this right after churning) into the pans and freeze until firm. They melt quick once they’re out and near the hot fudge sauce, so only assemble right before you’re ready to serve.

Next time you’re in the market for a cake, I highly recommend you give this one a try (whether you invest in the fancy mini-bundt pans or not.)

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Gleefully borrowed from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes six 4.5″ mini bundt cakes (or one standard bundt cake)

Ingredients

Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed

3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sour cream (full fat)
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips

Toppings
Hot fudge sauce
Vanilla bean ice cream (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease and flour one standard bundt pan, or a 6-well mini fluted pan.
  3. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until completely combined.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition.
  6. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until completely combined, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  7. Add the flow mixture, mixing on low speed just until combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Batter should be thick.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake 30-35 minutes for mini bundt cakes (or 40-50 minutes for a standard bundt), or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out mostly but not completely clean. Don’t over-bake or cakes will be a bit dry.
  9. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. When ready to serve, top one mini bundt or slice (I like to warm mine briefly in the microwave) with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce and a scoop or two of your favorite ice cream. Share with a friend (or eat it all yourself, I won’t judge.)

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until completely combined.
  2. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly cold, or overnight. (Overnight is better as it will allow the vanilla bean flavor to really permeate the mixture.)
  3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl (or cake tins lined with plastic wrap) to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.