Cartoons & Ice Cream
Growing up, I didn’t have television. At the time, I was understandably a little bitter. Today, I can see how it really helped to shape my creative side and develop my love of words since reading and writing consumed the time most kids spent watching TV. I did, however, get one reprieve a week from the no-TV rule. My grandmother lived just a hefty stone’s throw away from our house and Saturday mornings were spent in her living room, watching cartoons.
My grandmother was, and still is, everything a grandma should be, namely indulgent and fun. She’d often spoil our lunch by giving my brother and I big bowls of ice cream. She always had dozens of flavors on hand in her chest freezers in the basement. But vanilla, chocolate, peanut butter, strawberry, cherry, and rocky road couldn’t tempt me. Without fail, I’d always pick mint chocolate chip. I loved the green color, the fresh coolness of the mint and the frozen crunch of the chocolate bits.
For the longest time, I thought that funky green color always came with anything flavored with mint. See, for as many lovely vegetables and fruits grown around our house, we never had many herbs, including mint. When I began growing mint for myself, I have to confess I was a little disappointed that it didn’t impart that cool green hue to all my dishes.
What it lacks in color, Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream makes up for in flavor. It’s ridiculously fresh and refreshing (yes, there’s a difference between the two). And this version is much creamier than any I’ve had. Fortuitously, the basic recipe I used to make Lavender Ice Cream has proven the perfect base for any herbal infusion. It’s super quick to make too compared to the more traditional custard base, without sacrificing any consistency.
Since mint grows like a weed, I was heavy handed on cutting mine for this recipe, bringing inside several cups of leaves. Even so, I think I could have used more for a stronger minty flavor. So use as much as you like and any variety of mint will work. I happen to have both grapefruit and chocolate mints growing right now. Obviously, I opted for the chocolate variety for this recipe. But I think the grapefruit would have imparted an interesting citrus note that I might consider for another mint ice cream in the future.
I still watch Saturday morning cartoons. And I have to tell you, a dish of this homemade stuff sure tasted good while I watched Tom and Jerry chase each other around the screen.
Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
A Straight from the Farm original
1 C. whole milk
1 C. or more of fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle
1/2 C. superfine sugar
pinch of salt
1 2/3 C. heavy cream
1/2 C. mini chocolate chips
Place the milk in a saucepan over low heat. Add the mint leaves and vanilla bean and heat until quite hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and steep for 15 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the minty milk into a medium bowl. Discard the mint leaves and vanilla bean.
To the minty milk, add the sugar and salt, stirring until dissolved. Add the heavy cream and taste the mixture for sweetness. It should be slightly sweeter than you want as it will mellow out when frozen. Place in your ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s directions. Store ice cream in an air tight container in the freezer.
(makes about 1 quart)