Saying Goodbye To Summer
End summer with David Lebovitz’s lovely mint chocolate chip ice cream and conquer your fear of tempering eggs. Ice cream is a summer favorite, and we all know mint is the best flavor. Enjoy this during the last scorching days of summer!
Last year, saying goodbye to summer meant making a peach pie. Don’t get me wrong, I love a summer peach pie (try making Martha Stewart’s crust and this filling, and brush the crust with sugar to make it extra delicious).
Anyway, this year before I headed back for college I broke out the old ice cream maker (mixing things up, you know?). I love mint chocolate chip ice cream, and sometimes you just need a two-day project. The first step to making ice cream is to freeze the bowl part of the ice cream maker (a seemingly obvious detail that is often overlooked until you settle in to actually make the ice cream). So freeze the bowl and get to work on the custard base. Ice creams are made from either a custard base, made from a tempered egg (egg slowly mixed with boiling milk and then returned to the stove to cook) or from a milk mixture thickened with cornstarch. I prefer the old-fashioned, thick and creamy egg approach. To make the mint ice cream, I followed David Lebovitz’s recipe. I’ve made it a few times and it makes for herbaceous, green-tinted ice cream. So go out and raid your overgrown mint bush that you planted five years ago and has slowly taken over a corner of your garden.
Day One: Begin the custard base by collecting about two cups of mint leaves (grab about four handfuls of mint bush clippings). Steep the leaves in a saucepan with a cup of whole milk, 3/4 cup sugar, a cup heavy cream, and a pinch of salt that have all been heated until steaming. Allow sitting for an hour or so to develop a minty taste and green tinge. Strain out the mint, making sure to press down on the leaves to extract the greatest possible taste and color.
The next step is intimidating: tempering the eggs. Reheat the mint milk and whisk together 5 egg yolks in a bowl. When the milk is hot, add a small amount to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This is the trick to making sure you don’t end up with scrambled eggs. Slowly add more and more of the milk while stirring. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook until reaches 170 degrees F or 70 degrees C, stirring constantly. You can also tell the custard is done when it becomes thick enough to leave a thin coating on the back of a spatula. Strain the mixture into a cup of heavy cream and stir over a water bath to cool. When cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. The hard work is done!
Day 2: Prepare ice cream according to ice cream maker instructions (my ice cream took about 17-18 minutes). In that time, melt a bar of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (David Lebovitz recommends 5 oz. but I say the more chocolate, the merrier). When the chocolate is melted, drizzle some over the bottom of a container. Then begin adding the finished ice cream in layers, drizzling chocolate then spreading ice cream, etc. This will create a lovely stracciatella look, replacing chocolate chips with a more Italian gelato-style drizzle. Return ice cream to the freezer and freeze until solid. Then, enjoy the last warm nights of summer!
David Lebovitz’s original recipe can be found here.