In April, my mom came across some quick and easy sorbet recipes she wanted to try, and purchased an ice cream maker. Her plan was to make a mango sorbet early on Easter morning, and serve it fresh and delicious that afternoon at our Easter brunch. But after an hour of processing in the ice cream maker, the result was more like an icy smoothie than a rich sorbet. We wound up serving yogurt with warm fruit compote instead. The alternate dessert was good, but we were disappointed that our attempt at using the ice cream maker hadn’t worked out.
This Memorial Day weekend we were determined to make a successful dessert with our new machine, so I brought Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home along for my visit, to see if we’d have better luck with Jeni Britton Bauer’s innovative and fail-proof methods.
My parents have lots of mint in their garden, so it seemed like a no-brainer to make Backyard Mint Ice Cream. We gathered a large handful of mint in the morning and, after washing and drying it, roughly tore the leaves and cold-soaked them in the ice cream base overnight. Jeni says that tearing the mint bruises the leaves and opens the oil pockets, releasing a minty scent into the cream.
The following afternoon we got the rest of the ingredients ready:
- 2 cups of 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
To prep, we mixed two tablespoons of the whole milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. (Note: We used Lactaid whole milk, and had very successful results, texture and lactose intolerance-wise.) In a medium bowl, we whisked cream cheese and salt until smooth. Finally, we put lots of ice and some water into a very large bowl. We set the three bowls aside for use later.
Then, we combined the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, and brought the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. After it had boiled for 4 minutes, we removed the pan from the heat and gradually whisked in the cornstarch slurry. Then we brought the mixture back to a boil and cooked it, stirring with a heatproof spatula. After about one minute, when the mixture was slightly thickened, we removed the pan from the heat, and gradually whisked the hot milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese. When the mixture was smooth, we took the frozen mint out of the ice cream base and added it to the bowl.
We then poured the minty milk mixture into a one-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, sealed it, and submerged it in an ice bath. We let it sit for about thirty minutes to fully cool.
After about thirty minutes in the bath, Jeni says to refrigerate the bag for 4 to 12 hours to allow the flavors to steep. We had to get to a dinner, and wanted the ice cream to be ready for dessert, so we only let the mint steep for 3 hours.
To strain out the mint, we poured the milky mint mixture through cheesecloth and into the ice cream maker’s frozen canister. We turned on the ice cream maker and let it begin to spin.
Since we guessed that the mint flavor would be subtle because we weren’t letting it steep as long as was recommended, we decided to put dark chocolate freckles into the ice cream from the Buckeye State Ice Cream Recipe, to add a little extra something-something. To do this, we melted 4 ounces of chopped chocolate (55% to 70% cocoa) in a double broiler. Then we took it off the heat to let it cool until it was tepid but still fluid.
When the ice cream was thick and creamy and just about finished, we drizzled the melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream machine and allowed it to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about two minutes.
When the ice cream was finished, we packed it into a storage container, pressed a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and sealed it with an airtight lid. We froze the ice cream in the coldest part of our freezer until it was firm (about 4 hours).
After dinner, we invited our friends over to try the results, crossing our fingers that we wouldn’t have another incident of homemade dessert gone awry.
And we didn’t!
The ice cream was such a hit (a subtle hint of mint with bites of rich dark chocolate) that we decided to make Jeni’s Baked Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt the very next day. The result was equally delicious.