The only frozen thing many of us have on our minds right now (especially in New York) is what's falling out of the sky. But the snow piling up on our windowsill is not stopping us from making ice cream—especially when it's a minty, Christmasy flavor.
Peppermint ice cream with hot fudge sauce is pretty much a perfect dessert for us. This round, we tried putting the chocolate in the ice cream. Not that additional chocolate sauce wouldn't be welcome, but we like the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate in there with all that sugary peppermint.
We are complete converts to Jeni Britton's eggless ice cream method, and we adapted her technique for this recipe. If you haven't tried this cornstarch-and-cream cheese base, we highly, highly recommend it. You taste neither in the finished ice cream, and it's a much easier way of doing things.
A note on smashing peppermints: It can be noisy business. We found that muffling them with a dish towel only made it take longer. We recommend putting them in a plastic bag, laying them on the countertop (hard granite works especially well), and hitting each mint individually with a hammer.
Peppermint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Flecks
makes a little more than one quart
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
3 1/2 cups half and half
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (about 2 ounces)
In the bottom of a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese until soft and loose. Set aside. Prepare an ice bath in a larger bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the half and half, making sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the rest of the half and half into a large pot and whisk in the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then simmer, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pot to medium-high heat, bring back to a boil, and cook for 1 more minute, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is combined. Add the salt and peppermint extract. Set the bowl into the ice bath and cool, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is thoroughly chilled. This should take about 25 minutes. It's even better if you can refrigerate it for several hours or overnight, but it should freeze fine after the ice bath if it's completely cool.
Freeze in an ice cream maker, adding the peppermint candy and chocolate at the very end. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for several hours until firm.
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)