Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mint-basil chocolate ice cream

I'm not totally sure what cookbook this recipe is from, because I only have a photocopied page of it that I got from Nancy after making it over there last summer.

Usually, I alter ice cream recipes that don't call for eggs because I love the rich, custardy consistency you get from using them. However, I decided to follow this recipe from beginning to end (which also meant putting in spinach...more on that in a sec), and it called for cream and milk but no eggs, and I was surprised and happy to taste the results, which were as creamy but lighter than ice creams made with eggs. And that worked really well with the refreshing combination of mint with undertones of basil and flecks of chocolate. Writing about it now I'm sad I only made a half batch.

So about the spinach. Steeping mint and basil leaves doesn't really alter the color of the ice cream base. To get that brighter green color, this recipe suggested adding a bit of spinach. It ended up a cheery grass green, though Joel swears he could taste the spinach. I'm not attached to the color, so I'll most likely omit it next time.

Here's the recipe:

Combine 2 c whole milk and 1 c sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to disolve the sugar. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate (if the milk is hot when you add the spinach, the color won't be right).

Combine 2 c heavy cream, 40 peppermint leaves, and 12 large basil leaves in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the leaves steep in the cream for a half hour.

Now for the spinach part. Blanch a handful of spinach leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds, then transfer the spinach to a bowl of ice water. Wring out as much of the water as possible (you can use a dish towel for this). Chop the spinach.

Put the spinach and half the now-cool milk mixture in a blender and blend well. Add the remaining milk and blend a bit more. Strain the milk mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with damp cheesecloth into a bowl. Wring the rest of the liquid out of the cheesecloth. Then strain the cream mixture into the same bowl, and stir. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Churn the ice cream, folding in 6 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate at the end. Freeze for a bit to firm it up before eating. Good with chocolate sauce (especially homemade).
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