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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
- In a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, half and half, sugar, and mint to a light boil, stirring regularly.
- Remove from heat and allow to steep for one hour.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- When mixture is completely chilled, churn according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
- Meanwhile, melt chocolate in a double boiler (or in a small metal bowl over simmer water) until smooth.
- During the last few minutes of churning, slowly stream the chocolate into the ice cream.
- If necessary, gently stir the ice cream with a spatula as you transfer it to your chilled bowl.
- Return to freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
1 I did not measure particularly carefully since too much mint doesn’t seem like a problem; aim for at least 2 large handfuls.
2 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!