Frozen treats have long been a favorite for all ages. The first musical jingle of the Popsicle truck sends children running to the streets to buy their favorite frozen delight. From Popsicles to big bowls of creamy ice cream to refreshing fruity sorbets and gelatos to icy granités … they all are refreshing on a hot summer day.
I just used to love that chocolate chip mint ice cream when I was younger, but its gaudy green color and fakey mint flavor just don’t cut it anymore. With the fresh mint takeover going on in one of my flower beds, I decided to try mixing up some fresh mint ice cream. Yum! I infused the cream with a ton of the fresh mint leaves and added a sprinkling of finely chopped fresh mint, too. Delicious, naturally minty ice cream — a childhood favorite updated. Great topped with a drizzle of homemade, bittersweet chocolate sauce, or MY favorite, homemade chocolate mint candies (see recipe below).
It’s really fun to concoct your own crazy ice cream flavors, too. Read through some old cook books and gather some fun and interesting flavor combinations to try out! Go crazy and add any kind of fun berries and herbs, whatever this summer has brought to your own back yard garden!
Now I could carry on about texture and grain and the discernible differences and nuances between sorbet, sherbet, gelato and ice cream, but summer is too short for all that. So I suggest you use what you like best to make your ice cream, whether it is a newfangled, top-of-the-line, refrigerated ice cream maker or an ever-so-charming hand-crank machine. If you’ve gotten a bunch of juicy fruit and have a little time to spend cranking that churn with your friends and family, try inventing your own signature ice cream flavor … we’ll have our spoons ready.
Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Chocolate Mint Candies
Makes about 4 cups
4 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups packed mint sprigs, plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
6 egg yolks
1 cup coarsely chopped Chocolate Mint Candies (recipe follows) or Frango Mint candies
Combine the cream and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Tear the mint sprigs (to bruise them) and add to the cream mixture. Bring to a slow simmer over medium heat.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then gradually whisk in about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture. Whisk the egg mixture into the cream. Whisking constantly, bring to a bare simmer and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk frequently to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Strain the mixture and discard the mint leaves. Stir in the chopped mint, then pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Just before the ice cream is finished, stir in the chopped candies. Transfer the ice cream to a plastic container and freeze until ready to serve.
Chef’s Note: I like to serve this garnished with a bit more chopped mint candy and a fresh sprig of mint.
Chocolate Mint Candies
Makes 24 nice-sized pieces, or enough for 1 recipe of ice cream plus 12 extra pieces of candy
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
In a medium bowl or double boiler, melt the chocolate, butter, salt, and extract together over a pan of barely simmering water, whisking until the chocolate is just melted. Remove from the heat, sift in the confectioners’ sugar, then stir to combine well. Spread the mixture in an 8-inch square baking pan.
Let cool at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or refrigerate to harden faster.
To remove the candy from the pan, invert the pan onto a piece of plastic wrap or a cutting board, lay a hot towel over the pan bottom for about 1 minute, then tap the bottom of the pan. Loosen the candy with a spatula if needed. Cut the candy into 24 pieces to serve as candy, or coarsely chop to use in ice cream. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.