Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

If you can believe it, I was never a big fan of mint. When I was a kid I hated anything with the slightest hint of mint. Believe it. You can see where I’m going with this...

It blows my mind how many foods I didn’t like as a child, considering how much I now profess my undying love for them. Forbidden foods that wouldn’t make it past my picky trap as a kid?

Meat (except the ground up, super processed, exceedingly disgusting kind)
Poultry (absolutely none of it)
Fish (except tuna, canned of course)
Avocado (because my sister didn’t like guacamole and I idolized her)
Pine nuts
Caraway seeds
Bok Choy
Mint-flavored anything

Those are the stand-outs. I’m sure given inputs from my family, that list would double. Now? Avocado is my fatty fatty fat fat of choice in any application I can squeeze it into. There’s no animal, bird, and swimming creature I can think of that I wouldn’t try and most likely enjoy (except the taboo ones like dolphin!). I love it all. And life is so much easier when you’re a good eater. I am no longer the soup and salad cheap date my best friend’s mom said I was when I was 14. That’s a lie, I totally am. Good soup and salad is the ultimate. Course, nowadays salads aren’t the cheap date entree they used to be. Don’t even get me started.

Am I totally weird in my taste bud 180? Are there foods you hated as a child, genuinely gave a second chance to as an adult, and to this day cannot stand? Odd psychological circumstances not withstanding. I’m curious only because I can’t relate! I know my sister now crushes on guacamole as hard as I do. Husband never had a food he wouldn’t eat growing up. His parents were lucky.

Even though I now have nothing but love for mint, I wouldn’t say it’s high on my list for devoted enthusiasm. Though let’s face it, when it comes to food, I can still scrounge up a fair amount of enthusiasm even for the very bottom. I’ve come to realize it depends on the execution. While on my tour at the Theo Chocolate Factory, we got to try a rather pathetically small portion of a truffle. Husband chose mint. At first I was disappointed by his selection because I knew he’d want to share and have half of my fig & fennel truffle, and what’s so special about a mint truffle? And this is why I should always listen to Husband. My truffle was only just ok, but that mint? Amazing! It tasted like someone wrapped a square of soft chocolate in a mint leaf. In a good way. No mint extract or anything artificial. When we were trying to narrow down our purchases in the store (we started with one of every item sold in the store, and took things out of the basket from there...), we found a section of chocolate that was, well, basically like the remnants section of a fabric store. It was plastic bags full of the odds and ends of chocolate bars. Not pretty, not packaged, but cheaper and just as delicious. And they happened to be the mint flavor that day. Score!

You can see where I’m going with this.

This ice cream was born of a half-eaten bag of mint chocolate bar bits and 5 leftover egg yolks. Of course it was. It’s a chocolate ice cream base, because Husband doesn’t feel like he’s eaten dessert unless chocolate was overwhelmingly featured in every aspect involved. I don’t know why he even bothers. He should just eat a whole bar of chocolate every night. He’d probably complain it needed more chocolate. This is the guy who claims to love garlic, but aside from eating a straight clove, can never seem to taste it. But just chocolate wasn’t special enough for my special chocolate. I wanted to capture and bring out the mint essence. Without the fake stuff.

Pay no attention to that vanilla extract behind the curtain! Not everyone can afford vanilla beans!

Luckily, making mint chocolate ice cream is just as easy as making chocolate ice cream. There’s just the easy added step of steeping fresh mint leaves in the heavy cream while you warm it up. I actually ran out of time while attempting my ice cream base one evening after work, so my cream and mint actually got it on in the fridge, overnight. If you can swing it, the longer you can let them get to know each other, the mintier you end cream will be. But it really needn’t be a 3 day process. I’m confident a few minutes while it warms is plenty for those minty oils to work their devilish ways.

This ice cream turned out so good. So good. Like the kind of good where you take a minute to marvel that it actually came from your own two hands. I finally get mint chocolate. What all the rage is about. It’s the creamy, bittersweet taste from any good chocolate ice cream, plus this amazingly refreshing, fragrant essence of mint. It’s a natural pairing. Like chipotle and chocolate. I majorly heart that too. Essence.

I might be a bit obsessed with essences lately.

I was concerned the mint chocolate chunks from the leftover bars would get lost and wasted, but it was all for naught. Every bite with a chunk was that much mintier and more delicious. Definitely better than just eating it straight up. Would I make this ice cream with only regular chocolate chunks? Heck yes! The ice cream holds its own in the mint department, for sure. And regular chocolate chunks are still a nice textural contrast. Gotta have some crunch.

Give it a try! I hear it’s national ice cream month or something. Though I’m pretty sure every hot day of summer is national ice cream day, whether it falls in June or August. So says my ice cream maker. 

PS: Can we just not even talk about these pictures?  Ice cream food styling is just beyond me without a real ice cream scoop and cute clear vessel.  Pretty pics just ain't happening.

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Adapted from Annie’s Eats Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Makes ~ 1 ½ quarts

2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
3 TB Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 TB bourbon
1 cup good chocolate bar (preferably mint flavored), chopped into chunks

  1. Massage the mint leaves in your hands a bit to release the oils, and then combine them with the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Let the mixture warm up and infuse for at least 20 minutes. I let it sit overnight for ultimate mint flavor.
  2. Pull out the mint leaves, and wring them out to get every drop of mint flavor in the cream. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the cocoa powder, and whisk until it is fully dissolved. Once the mixture comes up to a bare boil, reduce the heat back to medium-low and let simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the bittersweet chocolate and whisk until it is melted and smooth. Transfer this mixture to a medium mixing bowl, and set a fine mesh strainer over the top.
  3. In the same saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and salt and warm the mixture over medium heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. When the milk mixture is warm (not quite to a boil), temper the eggs by very gradually whisking the milk mixture, a little at a time, into the egg yolks, beating constantly. Return the egg-milk mixture to the saucepan and continue heating over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a spatula, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spatula (or 170-175° F on a thermometer). Remove it from the heat, and pour the mixture through the strainer into the chocolate-cream mixture and stir to blend. Stir in the vanilla extract and bourbon.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator. Once the mixture is well chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once churned, add in the mint chocolate pieces. Store in an airtight container and freeze.


  1. OH yum, I'll have to try this! I love mint and chocolate together :)

    I used to hate guacamole, onions, cilantro, mushrooms, meat that wasn't cooked well done, meat in spaghetti sauce and lots more. Now I love all those things.

    Oh and I was the opposite of you. If my sister liked it, I hated it :)

  2. Kelly, is your sister older or younger? Curious. :)

    I feel so sorry for people who don't like onions. They're like the flavor base of every cuisine!

  3. This sounds heavenly!! It looks so creamy and luscious. Your pictures make my mouth water! :)