Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Candy and Dark Chocolate Flecks

I've never had the chance to go to a Jeni's Ice Cream which is based in Columbus, OH (what is it with awesome ice cream parlors in Ohio; Graeter's is from Ohio too!), but I've read about how she doesn't make her ice cream with eggs and instead uses cream cheese, cornstarch, and corn syrup in her recipes. And even though I know people rave about Jeni's, I just can't get over putting corn starch and corn syrup in an ice cream. I actually can't stand it when I can taste either in my foods; corn starch is usually used to thicken a sauce (Eugene used it on the latest episode of Top Chef and got dinged for it) and corn syrup is a cheaper alternative to sugar and used in American-made Coke (Coke from Mexico uses pure sugar and is soooo much better) and Snapple (which is why I abhor Snapple and love Nantucket Nectar, which uses pure cane sugar).

But then I saw this recipe on The Kitchn and just had to try it. My favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream is made by Breyer's, and I just love the pureness of the mint ice cream (no green food coloring!) and the use of semi-sweet chocolate in it. I was hoping for something similar with this recipe, and it pretty much came through for me. I couldn't taste the cream cheese, corn starch, or corn syrup, and best of all, this is another "makes a little more than one quart" recipe which means there will be some left in the ice cream machine to eat after you make it. =)

Peppermint ice cream with dark chocolate flecks

Peppermint Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Flecks (adapted from here)
makes a little more than one quart

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
3 1/2 cups half and half
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 cup crushed peppermint candy (use a Ziploc bag and a hammer or mallet)
3 oz. chopped dark chocolate

In the bottom of a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft and loose and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the half and half, making sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the rest of the half and half into a large pot and whisk in the sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then simmer, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pot to medium-high heat, bring back to a boil, and cook for 1 more minute, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened.

Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is combined. Add the salt and peppermint extract. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with snow or an ice bath and cool, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is at least down to room temperature. Transfer the inner bowl to the refrigerator and allow to chill thoroughly.

Freeze in an ice cream maker, adding the peppermint candy and chocolate at the very end. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for several hours until firm.

Peppermint ice cream with dark chocolate flecks

So in my first attempt to make this, I over-churned the ice cream to the point where it was melting in the machine. Since I have one of those ice cream makers that uses a frozen canister, there was no way to save it immediately. The best I could do was re-freeze the canister overnight and try again the next day. I'm not sure if the reason I over-churned is because either the canister wasn't frozen solid (maybe the freezer door had been left slightly ajar?) or if I was expecting it to start looking like the thick frozen custards I was more used to and it just never did and started going downhill instead. So to be on the safe side, I froze the ice cream base overnight as well and then put it in the fridge the next morning to thaw so that it would start off very cold. I had a small hope that I wouldn't need to re-churn the ice cream after freezing the almost liquid base overnight, but that hope was dashed when I checked it in the morning and it was obviously quite quiescently frozen. =( About 10 hours after I put it in the fridge to thaw, I tried re-churning it, and it actually came out okay. Still a bit too many ice crystals for my liking, but definitely better than a solid block of ice. =) I think I shall have to try some more of Jeni's ice cream and frozen yogurt recipes. Or maybe I can adapt one to make a ispahan flavored ice cream!

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