I Melt With You is a new ice cream column from The Takeout. I’ll be here all summer with new ice cream recipes, unique ingredients, equipment recommendations, and ways to make your home ice cream experience as easy and fun as possible. I am always up for a challenge, so feel free to send flavor requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to see some of the flavors I have been developing for you, feel free to pop over to my IG @stacey.ballis and scroll back for some serious ice cream content.
I’m crazy for mint. All summer long my friends with gardens foist giant bundles of it upon me, and I receive their bounty delightedly. I keep pitchers of mint tea in the fridge. I use mint in all sorts of cooking and baking projects. And once I started writing this column, it seemed obvious to me that I should make mint ice cream. I grew up on mint chocolate chip ice cream, and whether it was green or white, with large flat chunks of chocolate or little flakes, it was always a favorite.
But the thing about mint-flavored ice creams that you get commercially is that they use mint extract or oil for flavor, not fresh mint. So, a not-great mint ice cream can often end up in a very mouthwash-y, toothpaste-y kind of place. We do not want that mint. We want a mint that screams out its homemadeness. After all, if you go to the trouble to make a mint ice cream that tastes exactly like store-bought, you could have just picked up a pint at the store and taken a nap and saved yourself the effort and dishwashing.
This ice cream, like many of my recipes, layers different versions of a single flavor to intensify the eating experience. We steep fresh mint in the cream, and then make both mint syrup and mint sugar to make sure that we get that deep minty flavor without having to add any mint extract. (Having said that, if you are missing that bracing cool backnote to the flavor, you can totally add mint extract to the mix. Your favorite ice cream is not necessarily my favorite ice cream.)
I like to have both mint and chocolate at this party, and there are a lot of ways to invite chocolate into this ice cream. If you’re going everyday, grab a bag of Andes candies baking chips, chop up some whole candies, or use a combo of chocolate chips and mint chips. Need to take it Next Level? Chop some Fannie May Mint Meltaways or fold in some Aero Mint Chocolate Bubbles. Any of these will pair wonderfully with the subtle fresh mint flavor of the ice cream. And never fear, I’ll be back with more bracing mint options (think Junior Mint/York Peppermint Patty/peppermint sticks) when fresh mint season is over.
Makes about 1½ quarts
- 1¾ cups (420 g) heavy cream
- 1 cup (20 g) packed fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup (80 g) white chocolate chips
- ¾ cup (180 g) whole milk
- ⅓ cup (70 g) mint sugar (see below)
- 2 Tbsp. (40 g) mint syrup (see below)
- 2 Tbsp. (12 g) milk powder
- 2 Tbsp. (20 g) vodka (Note: this helps keep the ice cream from freezing too hard. If you prefer to not include any alcohol, you will want to let the frozen ice cream sit out an extra 5-10 minutes before scooping for optimal texture.)
- ½ tsp. (3 g) mint extract (optional)
- pinch fine sea salt
- 1 cup (160 g) chopped Andes Candies or a half-cup (80 g) each Guittard semi-sweet and Guittard mint chips
Heat cream with the fresh mint leaves over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan until the cream begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and let sit 6-24 hours in the fridge. Once you strain the mint leaves from the cream, you should have about 1½ cups or 360 grams of mint cream.
Heat the mint cream with the white chocolate in your microwave for about 2 minutes to create a fast ganache. Blend with immersion blender or in regular blender to perfect smoothness. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the chocolate mix-ins) and blend again. The milk powder will want to clump on you, so keep a lookout for that.
Once the mixture is well blended, taste to be sure you like the balance of flavors. If it doesn’t feel sweet enough to you, or a flavor is not coming through well, add more of what you need. If you need more mint flavor, add ⅛ teaspoon of mint extract at a time until you like what you taste. If you need more sweetness, you can add either mint syrup or mint sugar to bump it up, but don’t add more than a tablespoon of either or you will affect freezing. The mixture should be intensely flavored because flavors mute on freezing. When it tastes right, pour into a sealed container and chill to cure the flavor, 6-24 hours. The base should be very chilled before you start churning.
Churn according to machine directions. Fold in the chocolate mix-ins and transfer to storage container. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight for best texture.
To make mint syrup, combine a cup each of sugar, water, and packed fresh mint leaves in a small saucepan. Cook until the sugar is fully dissolved and the mixture reduces slightly to create a syrupy texture. Strain and store the syrup in the fridge. It’s also great as a sweetener in tea or lemonade or cocktails.
To make mint sugar, put a cup of granulated sugar and half a cup of packed fresh mint leaves in your food processor and pulse until the sugar is green and flecked with mint but there are no large mint pieces visible. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to use it. Or spread the mint sugar in a thin layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in the oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour and half, or until the mixture is fully dry to the touch. Let cool in the turned-off oven, then store in the pantry until you want to use it. For ice cream, the flavor will be more intense with the fresh mint sugar, but the dried mint sugar is still better than plain sugar to reinforce the mint flavor.