What happened to summer? One minute it was here and the next, gone……….. After the wet winter, I am really hoping the weather takes a better turn. But sunshine or not, I intend to make (and eat) lots of ice-cream. And at least when the weather’s cold, you have longer to savour the deliciousness and luxury before it melts into a creamy puddle.
I love ice-cream. Any ice-cream. Comforting and soothing……….. We always have at least two tubs on the go in the freezer. I haven’t yet resorted to the comedic grab the whole tub and sit with a large spoon in front of the TV scene, but I have come close to it on many occasions. If I didn’t think my family might consider I had finally lost it, then I would be there….. really!
Home made ice-cream tastes so much better than shop-bought tubs. It may of course just be psychological, but the thought and care that goes into making ice cream in your own kitchen makes it that little bit more special. It’s always fun to play with different ingredients and flavours, but sometimes it’s just good to lean on the old favourites.
Mint-Choc Chip is one of life’s delights. It seems to have been around forever and is always a winner. The cold, refreshing mintyness, contrasting with the dark, slightly bitter chocolate crunch and sweet creaminess of the ice-cream is loved by young and old alike. So when I asked my daughter ‘what flavour ice-cream should I make?’, the answer was instantaneous, and Mint Choc Chip was the order of the day.
To make the ice-cream taste as natural as possible, I used a couple of handfuls of fresh mint, infused with the custard as it cooked, carefully crushing to encourage the flavours to mingle. The resulting ice-cream base was definitely pretty minty, but it was not quite there. Fresh mint has an earthy flavour which is fine, but I wanted the ice-cream to have the expected cold, ice-mint freshness. To compensate, I balanced it with a little natural mint extract. The flavour of the fresh mint still came through strongly, but was nicely tempered and I think, more palatable.
The chocolate ‘chips’ come from dark, rich chocolate which has been frozen and smashed into pieces, before being added. There is also an extra mint kick from a few broken After Eights, folded in for good measure. The After Eights are optional, but add an interesting slightly chewy dimension when they have been frozen. If you don’t want to use After Eights, add extra dark chocolate to make up the chocolate weight (about 110g in total).
The After Eights made great decoration too……….. Cutting them with a small cookie cutter was amazingly easy and made the served ice-cream that little bit more special!
I think this ice-cream has been devoured faster than any other I have made………… Two days and gone! Doesn’t that say it all?
Double Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream (makes 1 litre)
- Place the chocolate and After Eights in a freezer bag and place in the freezer for a couple of hours (or overnight).
- When frozen, smash the chocolate in the bag with a rolling pin until it is broken into very small pieces. Place back in the freezer until ready to use.
- Pour the milk and cream into a large saucepan with the vanilla extract and mint leaves (which you should crush slightly before adding). Stir and then heat on a low to medium setting until almost boiling (just starting to form small bubbles, but not boiling), then turn off the heat and cover with a lid, leaving to sit and steep for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale.
- Pour about half of the cooling cream mixture (without leaves), a little at a time, into the egg-sugar paste, whisking continually to combine thoroughly.
- Pour this mixture back into the saucepan to add to the rest of the cream-liquid.
- Heat on a low setting, stirring continually until the custard thickens to a consistency which coats the back of the spoon. Do NOT allow to boil, although the custard can form small bubbles.
- Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl and add mint extract and food colour to desired taste and appearance.
- Allow the mixture to cool as quickly as possible, stirring intermittently to prevent a skin forming. When cool enough, place in the fridge.
- Chill the custard for several hours (preferably overnight).
- Churn using an ice cream maker by the manufacturers instructions.
- When the churning process is complete, fold the broken chocolate and After Eights through the ice cream whilst it is still soft enough to do so.
- Spoon the finished ice cream into an airtight container and place in the freezer to allow to harden, although you may wish to serve soft straight away.
(If you don’t have an ice cream maker, place the mixture at stage 11 into a shallow container and freeze until mushy. Then turn into a chilled bowl and beat until the ice crystals are broken down. Return to the freezer and freeze again until mushy. Repeat the whisking, add the chocolate pieces and freeze a final time)