When I set out to make a fresh mint ice cream, I was looking for peppermint rather than spearmint. Peppermint is sweeter and more refreshing.
Through my search, I met Val Jorgensen, who owns a beautiful farm outside Columbus where she grows herbs, wildflowers, and pear trees; keeps bees; and raises sheep. Val and I worked together over several summers to find the perfect mint for our ice cream. We finally settled on a cool black peppermint with the strange official name of Robert Mitchum Mint. This varietal has a strong, sweet peppermint scent, and it also has a high concentration of oils, which are essential to a flavorful ice cream.
To flavor our Backyard Mint Ice Cream Recipe, we roughly tear mint leaves, then cold-soak them in the ice cream base overnight. Tearing the mint bruises the leaves and opens the oil pockets, releasing the scent into the cream. Don't care for mint? You can substitute any fresh herb. Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
A large handful of fresh mint from your backyard or farmers' market, leaves roughly torn into small pieces
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the mint. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate to steep for 4 to 12 hours.
Strain out the mint. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Pairs well with: Dark chocolate, of course. Chocolate fudge cookies, for ice cream sandwiches. Rum or whiskey and some seltzer, for an interesting float.
Read more: Learn how to make frozen desserts for the summer, including ice cream, sorbet and more, in Discover the Many Delicious Types of Frozen Desserts.
Photo By Fotolia/anjelagr
This Backyard Mint Ice Cream Recipe was reprinted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer, published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing, 2013.