Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Recently,  (see Virgin "Mojito" Slush) I posted on how I was the beneficiary of some fresh mint--seriously, folks, I not not shy about receiving hand-me-downs (ingredients and otherwise!), if you have any you'd like to cast off, I'm your girl!  Anyway, I spent some time thinking up ways I could use said mint and since I had half a quart of half-and-half (leftover from how I take my coffee: cream, no sugar) languishing in the fridge, I felt some Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream was in order.

My experience with mint chocolate chip takes me back to the fluorescent stuff served at my brother's birthday parties.  This mint chip is a little more understated.  The mint flavor is subtle, but refreshing and creamy with bursts of chocolate.  If you haven't made homemade ice cream before, don't be turned off.  It's really easy and you'll feel so satisfied with your accomplishment (and knowing exactly what went in there).  If you don't have an ice cream maker, see my note below on a make-shift version using an ice cube tray and a blender!

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
2 cups half and half
about 10 fresh mint leaves (still on the stems are ok...you're just steeping them)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cream (I used whole milk because that's what you have with a one-year-old in the house)
1/2 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips
more fresh mint for garnish

Put the half and half in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring just to a boil, stirring.  Add the mint leaves and allow to steep in the hot milk for 20 minutes.  Remove mint leaves.
Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of milk to make a slurry (a thick liquid where all the cornstarch is dissolved so that you don't get little cornstarch "beads").
Whisk cornstarch mixture into warm minty half and half along with sugar.  Return to medium-high heat and stir constantly until thick.  It will be done when the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon and a line drawn with your finger remains intact. Stir in the remaining cream or milk.
Allow to cool, then freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions.  When ice cream is almost completely frozen, stir in the chocolate chips.  Garnish with fresh mint as desired.

Note: if you don't have an ice cream maker--or do but can not find the paddle anywhere and suspect perhaps your child squirreled it away somewhere--you can do a B team version of ice cream.  Pour the cooled mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze completely.  Put the frozen cubes into a blender, add a splash of milk to help blend things up (adding more as needed).  Blend until mixture is thick and smooth.  Stir in the chocolate chips and serve right away as depending on how much milk you added, it may more closely resemble a "Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Shake."  This style also doesn't refreeze as well, so act fast!

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