Is there anything more summery than ice cream?
Growing up, we had an ice cream maker. It was a behemoth of a thing, one of the old-fashion kinds that had an electric churn inside an outer container you had to fill with crushed ice and rock salt. We didn't use it much, rock salt and heavy cream weren't things we usually had sitting around the house, but once a summer it would make an appearance. The sound of the motor still rings clear in my mind, a sound of anticipation, the harbinger of deliciousness to come. When we did make it, it was always vanilla. I never recall getting any fancier than that, but to a kid, it was enough.
When Mr. Cleaver and I got married, we got a small, more modern ice cream maker as a wedding gift. It held about a quart and had a bowl you froze in the freezer, no rock salt required. I've tried making a dozen or so batches or ice cream and sorbet in that maker, with limited success. It never seemed to truly freeze/whip up properly and the ice cream would melt ridiculously fast. So this summer we decided to upgrade. Based on the recommendation of America's Test Kitchen, we purchased a Cuisinart ICE-21 (in pink of course!), and while we've only used it twice thus far, these results have been so much better that the bowl has earned a permanent spot in our freezer and heavy cream a regular spot on our shopping list.
My favorite part of homemade ice cream is using what's in season to make it really fresh ice cream. The obvious options - strawberries, raspberries, etc - all make delicious ice creams and sorbets, but the herb garden is also a great place to turn to for ingredients. Especially in the early weeks of a garden before the berries ripen - and anyway, it doesn't get any more classic than Mint Chocolate Chip. Unless you count vanilla, of course.
Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips
Makes 1 1/2 Quarts (approx. 12 servings)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- pinch salt
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves (peppermint or chocolate mint preferred)
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional)
Combine sugar and salt in a large bowl and top with mint leaves. With a muddler or the bottom of a sturdy wooden spoon, crush mint into the sugar to release oils. Pour in milk and cream and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover bowl and place in back of refrigerator, preferably overnight, but a minimum of 3 hours until mixture is quiet cold.
Set up ice cream maker, per manufacturer's directions. Strain mint leaves out of milk/cream mix and pour into ice cream maker. When ice cream begins to appear firm, add chocolate. While tempting to eat directly out of the machine, taste a bit, and then scoop the rest into a reusable container and store in the freezer for several hours until firm. Serve in bowls or cones and enjoy!