Making ice cream at home is not as difficult as you may think. I use a simple Cuisinart machine with an insert you put in the freezer, just make sure it is cold enough to do its job, at least 24 hours in the freezer before making ice cream. If you shake the freezer bowl, you shouldn’t hear any sloshing sounds. If you do, it isn’t cold enough. (This happened to Jane and I this summer and I was blaming it on the 20 year old freezer bowl, but as it turns out, it was our freezer that was malfunctioning, the Cuisinart is still going strong!)
I grow a pot of mint each summer and this mint-chip ice cream has become a tradition for my family. Buy fresh mint at the store if you don’t have your own, it is so much better than using an extract. Any mint will do—spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, or a mix. I adapted this recipe from Jerry Traunfeld of The Herbfarm. I like his technique of pouring the hot cream and milk over lukewarm yolks, cooking them just enough and eliminating stirring at the stovetop—easier and still food safe (yolks get past 160°F which kills potential bacteria.)
A note about timing: the ice cream base needs to chill overnight before churning. While you’re at it, make sure you have your freezer bowl ready to go too, 24 hours minimum in the freezer.
Fresh Spearmint Stracciatella Ice Cream
makes 6 cups; adapted from Jerry Traunfeld of The Herbfarm
- 2 cups heavy cream, ideally not ultra-pasteurized for best flavor
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 pinch sea salt
- Optional: 2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted Scharffen Berger
Combine cream, milk, and pinch of salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Bruise the mint leaves by rubbing and coarsely tearing then add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, immediately remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or bowl and return the infused cream to the saucepan.
Wash the measuring cup or bowl as you will use it again for chilling the ice cream base.
Put the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl set over another bowl filled half-way with hot tap water. Whisk the yolks until they are lukewarm, 90–100°F (this will just take a minute or two), then remove the bowl from the water.
Add the sugar and salt to the milk/cream and bring back to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat and immediately pour a gradual stream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly for a minute. (This will cook the egg yolks, an instant-read thermometer will register 170–180°.) Whisk for another minute to slightly cool the mixture and pour through a fine sieve into a 4-cup glass measuring cup or bowl. Refrigerate overnight to cool completely.
Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions—the Cuisinart with freezer bowl takes 20 minutes. For stracciatella, melt chocolate and drizzle into the ice cream during the final 5 minutes of churning.
Ice cream will be soft-serve. Transfer to a container and store in freezer for a firmer texture.
Recipe Notes / Tips
- Variations: instead of mint you can use a split vanilla bean or 3–4 tea bags (Earl Gray is nice!) to flavor the ice cream. This ice cream base is begging for your creativity.
- Stracciatella: use high quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melt over a water bath, and drizzle into ice cream during final 5 minutes of churning.