Let’s face it. It’s hot here in New York City. Especially if you’re biking around Brooklyn with a helmet and backpack mid-afternoon, like I’ve been doing this weekend. It’s that glorious New York summer brew of humidity and high temperatures and smog and concrete. The only relief is a cold movie theater, a public pool (McCarren Park anyone?), the Rockaways, your shower.
But don’t get me wrong. I love it. I wait all year for these two months of hot sleepless nights and it’s a reason I could never live in San Francisco.
And what do I like to indulge in on these hot summer days? Ice cream. The hard kind, the soft kind, the Italian kind, the Taiwenese ice kind, the kind dispensed from pale yellow food trucks. But one thing I actually hadn’t tried before was making my own. I always wanted to but who could bother. Especially when you can get pints of the best this city offers for around $5. Make your own and you spend that much on just the pint of heavy cream needed to make the custard.
Often, homemade versions of any dish are more expensive than buying it. But I guess that’s not the point. Not for me anyway. I like to make things with my hands, I like to pick things from a garden and eat it twenty minutes later in a dish, and I enjoy the magic of creating something I’ve only ever bought before and then poof make it myself.
I was at my local farmer’s market yesterday morning looking for ice cream inspiration. I considered rhubarb, peach, plum, any number of varieties. But on a hot day I really like mint ice cream. Mint chocolate chip. And then I remembered the large patch of mint growing like a weed in my front yard which I’ve hardly made use of yet this season. So I picked up some milk, some cream, eggs, and then picked two packed cups worth of mint from beyond my stoop. And got down to business. (My mint, and bike, below, and celosia flowers I got from the market.)
One of the things I love about this recipe is it uses only fresh mint, not mint extract. You infuse the milk and cream with just-picked mint and before freezing add chopped bits of chocolate.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
1 c (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 c (150 g) sugar
2 c (500 ml) heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 c (80 g) packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks
3/4 c chopped dark chocolate pieces
1. In a medium saucepan warm the milk, sugar, 1 c of cream, salt, and mint. Let it get hot and steamy, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour so the mint infuses the liquid.
2. After an hour, remove the mint with a strainer, pushing down on it with a spatula to extract as much flavor from it as possible, then discard the mint.
3. Pour the remaining 1 c of cream into a large bowl and set aside. Set your strainer on top of it.
4. Rewarm the infused milk, and in a separate bowl start whisking together the egg yolks. Slowly pour some of the warm mint mixture into the yolks (about 1/2 c or so), whisking constantly. Then add this egg mixture to the rest of the mint mixture in the saucepan.
5. Then you’re going to cook the custard, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and sticks to the spoon or whisk, about 170 degrees F (77 C). Immediately strain this mixture into the cream, then stir the mixture over an ice bath until it cools down.
6. Refrigerate the mixture for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight. Then add the mixture to your ice cream maker – for mine, this meant a half hour in the machine mixing until it got that nice thick ice creamy texture.
7. Transfer the ice cream to the container you will store/freeze it in, add the chocolate chips and stir. Cover and freeze until firm.