So when Paula gave me that bag of fresh picked mint from her backyard, I knew I wanted to try making Jeni's Backyard Mint Ice Cream. I've had the fresh mint ice cream from Toscanini's before, so I was pretty sure I knew what to expect: a slightly more herbal, even grassy, pure mint ice cream. And I decided I'd try to add some "dark chocolate freckles", which are basically made by streaming melted chocolate into the churning ice cream. I've kind of shied away from trying this because even though my ice cream maker has it's own condenser (so I don't have to worry about the ice cream base melting while churning), the opening for add-ins is not that easy to access. This is probably the only complaint I have about my Lello gelato maker.
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
A large handful of fresh mint from your backyard or a farmers' market, leaves roughly torn into small pieces
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the mint. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Refrigerate to steep for 4-12 hours.
Strain out the mint. Pour ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and begin to spin the ice cream.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and let cool until tepid but still fluid.
When the ice cream is thick and creamy and almost finished, drizzle the melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream machine and allow it to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
As you can see in the picture above, the chocolate hardens into small, amorphous flecks, but what you can't see is how thin and crispy the chocolate is. It's exactly like eating an After Eight mint and just as addicting. It's so good I willfully ignore the pain each bite causes my sensitive teeth. I may or may not have stood at my kitchen counter, scooping this ice cream straight from the tub into my mouth. I think it's the first ice cream I've made in a long time that I will finish all by myself! ^_^