Recipe: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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Yes, yes, we know that is like the fourth ice cream recipe we've posted in the last month or two, but we can't help it - we love our ice cream maker, and we love fresh ice cream. Our officemates requested their favorite, mint chocolate chip, which is a flavor that wouldn't ordinarily be in our rotation. This homemade version, however, changed that.

Homemade mint ice cream is made by steeping freshly bruised mint leaves in cream, letting the sweet mint infuse it. There isn't that sharp, chemical peppermint taste that you find in the green stuff from the store - this ice cream is sweet, fragrant, and herbal.

We expected to use a very dark chocolate in this, but with two choices at hand found that we preferred a slightly lighter, sweeter chocolate. We used an El Rey 58.5% chocolate - dark, but not overly so, with strong fruity overtones.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Two quarts

About 3 cups fresh mint leaves
4 cups half and half (or two cups cream and two cups milk)
1 cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg yolks
6 ounces good quality dark chocolate

Tear the mint leaves off their stems and put in a bowl. Pound with a pestle or large spoon just until they are bruised and give off their fragrance.

Whisk the half and half, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until it begins to steam, then remove, add the mint leaves, and cover. Let steep, covered for at least an hour - preferably two or three. (You'll be heating this up again, so you don't have to worry about bacteria.)

After a couple hours strain out the mint leaves and bring to just under a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and add a cup of the cream. Whisk it all back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, until the custard reaches 170º to 174ºF. Stir in the vanilla. Pour into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Chop the chocolate into chunks and flakes. Set aside.

Freeze the custard the next day in your ice cream maker according to directions, adding the chocolate about halfway through. Transfer ice cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap under the lid touching the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming. Freeze for at least four hours before serving.

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