Jul 13, 2008

Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches

July is national ice cream month. And a week from today, July 20, is ice cream day. (Don't say Ronald Reagan never did anything for you.) So if you haven't already, get those ice cream machine canisters in the freezer and get cranking.

I have loads of ice cream recipe favorites and resources to share, but I'm going to share this recipe with you first. It's from my go to book for ice cream, David Lebovitz The Perfect Scoop. This is the one book every ice cream enthusiast and maker should have. More about the book later. Just know, this is the one.

I like this recipe because the mint flavor comes from real mint leaves. All natural. And one of the few things in our garden that hasn't already baked in this summer's early and overly enthusiastic Texas heat is the mint. I had a mint plant gone wild. This was the perfect remedy. Now, I can't wait for it to grow back. Good thing it grows fast.

The ice cream has a beautiful pale green color and a soft but distinct mint flavor. It's not hit-you-over-the-head, sickly sweet, gooey candy mint. It's the real deal. It's ephemeral at first. The perfect thing for a hot summer day. Interestingly, the flavor seems to get a little stronger day to day. Not that it's been around long. I've been experimenting with ice cream recipes lately and have several flavors in the freezer, but this one was made last and disappeared first.

It's really lovely on it's own, but I liked it even better sandwiched between two chocolate wafer cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. That really rocked. The contrast of the deep, dark, grainy chocolate wafer cookies with the cold, creamy, mint ice cream elevated it to a new level. You somehow taste the mint more with the contrast of the chocolate cookie. I used these chocolate wafer cookies, which can be found in the cookie aisle in the supermarket. They were snappy and crisp when first assembled, but become slightly more fudgy when stored in the freezer after assembly. I really liked them that way.

So get ready for ice cream month. I'll be posting more recipes soon and lots more info on ice cream making. But this one will get you started.

Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups cream
pinch of salt
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves
5 egg yolks
one 9-oz package chocolate wafer cookies

Heat (over low flame) the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt until the sugar dissolves. Do not boil.

Remove from heat. Stir in the mint leaves until completely immersed. Cover and let steep for one hour.

Strain the mint out of the milk, pressing on the mint leaves to extract as much liquid as possible.

Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a bowl. Discard the mint leaves and set your strainer on top of the bowl of cream.

In a separate bowl, whish together egg yolks. Rewarm the minty milk and then whisk into the egg yolks. Pour the milk and egg mixture back into your saucepan.

Whisk constantly over medium heat until thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will happen quickly. Stir constantly and do not walk away from it.

Strain the custard mixture into the cream and stir to combine.

At this point, you can cool the ice cream base in an ice bath (a large bowl of ice and water) or place in the fridge for several hours or overnight. The longer it chills, the better. The colder it is when it goes in the ice cream machine, the faster it will set up.

Freeze in your ice cream machine according to its instructions. It should resemble soft serve ice cream when it comes out of the machine. Mine usually takes about 20-25 minutes.

Place in the freezer for a couple of hours to firm up. Then you can scoop it on to a chocolate wafer cookie, top with another and give them a little squeeze to sandwich them together. You can eat them right away or store them assembled in the freezer to serve later. They'll keep for several days, but good luck making them last that long.

Adapted from David Lebovitz The Perfect Scoop.

P.S. Want more? Try these ice cream sandwiches made with brownies and banana ice cream on Fanny's site.

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