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Monday, 9 June 2014

Mint Choc Chip Ice-cream

Have you managed to get away on holiday recently? One of the things I've always loved when on holiday is the afternoon encounter with an ice-cream shop. Not to a Mr Whippy ice-cream van, but instead, the counter with a selection of  tubs of excitingly coloured different flavours to choose from. You know the sort of place... where deciding if you want one scoop or two is just the beginning of the difficult decisions. Or are you one of those people who has a favourite flavour and always goes for that.

I have a favourite flavour - rum and raisin... no... toffee honeycombe... or maybe raspberry ripple... or perhaps mint choc chip.

Who am I kidding, I don't know! 

When not on holiday, I like to make my own ice-cream. I don't have an ice-cream maker as you don't really need one. All an ice-cream maker does is stir the ice-cream whilst it freezes, preventing large ice crystals forming. Personally, I'm not bothered if there are ice-crystals in my ice-cream - it gives it a sort of cross between an ice-cream and a sorbet experience! However, they are easily prevented by taking the ice-cream out of the freezer several times in the first few hours and giving it a good beating to break the crystals down to give it a smoother, creamier texture. 

I also don't put egg into my ice-cream. Again, this is done to give the ice-cream a creamier texture and richness but I'm not fond of the idea of eating raw egg. Instead, the ingredients I use are simple and straightforward and this is always a good way to eat. The basic ingredients are double cream and icing-sugar and some sort of flavouring. Inevitably, I turn to the garden for the inspiration for flavour, with soft fruits being the obvious favourites. However, before the fruit is ready, the herb garden is in it's prime, with mint being one of the most vigorous. 

Any commercial mint flavoured ice-cream will be flavoured with some sort of mint oil and probably coloured with green food colouring too. If you are trying to re-create that flavour then you can flavour your ice-cream with peppermint oil and add a few drops of green colouring. I'm not going to be snobbish and tell you not to do that. As I have already said, I buy mint choc chip ice-cream given half a chance and I'm quite partial to a peppermint cream too. I'm merely mentioning this so as to adjust your expectations because if you make mint choc chip ice-cream with fresh mint from your garden it will taste quite different. Minty, yes, but in a new potato minty way rather than a Polo type of way. If you have access to a clump of mint then I would urge you to give this recipe a go to really capture the freshness of spring and to redefine mint choc chip ice-cream.

Mint Choc Chip Ice-cream

A big bunch of mint
10 fl oz (284 ml) milk
2 oz (55 g) icing sugar
10 fl oz (284 ml) double cream
Green food colouring (optional)
4 oz (110 g) dark chocolate chips or grated dark chocolate

Remove the mint leaves from the stalks and coarsely chop. Pour the milk into a non metallic bowl and tip the mint leaves into it, pressing down so that they are covered. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to infuse. Pour the milk through a sieve to remove the mint leaves. Add the sugar to the milk and stir until dissolved. Add the cream (and food colouring if using) and stir. Pour into suitable containers and add the chocolate chips. Freeze the mixture for 2 hours until beginning to freeze then stir with a fork to break up the ice-crystals. Return to the freezer for another 2 hours then stir again, making sure to stir the chocolate chips through the ice cream. Repeat again 2 hours later than return to the freezer until solid. To serve, remove the ice-cream from the freezer for 10-20 minutes beforehand to allow it to soften slightly.

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