Shirley’s Mint & Chip

Shirley in her kitchen

Shirley in her kitchen

I was at the doctor recently for my annual check up.

“Your diastolic reading is a little borderline high,” she said. “Do you eat a lot of salt?”

“Not really,” I said. “I don’t eat much processed food.”

But then I began to think about my between-meal snacking habit — primarily potato chips, macadamia nuts and Japanese rice crackers in quantities enough for several men. In other words, three variations on some serious salt.

So now, by way of a three-month experiment to see if I can bring the diastolic number down without medication, I’m snacking on raw unsalted walnuts and fruit.

Fortunately, my weight and cholesterol levels were in the very desirable range, which meant I didn’t have to give up my favorite indulgence on the sweet side — ice cream.

I don’t eat much ice cream. But I love it when I do. And I recently came to the conclusion that the world’s best ice cream is not McConnell’s Sweet Cream nor any flavor from Portland’s fabled Salt & Straw, nor is it a Berthillon glacé from the venerable Ile Saint-Louis institution in Paris or a dark chocolate-hazelnut concoction from Gelateria Nico in Venice. Instead, it is the mint & chip ice cream made by my very own friend, neighbor and fave five person, Shirley.

I’ve written about Shirley and her husband, my pal Nat, previously on this blog — we’ve traveled to Mexico together, I’ve given Nat pasta making lessons, we’ve passed many a slow evening together over wine and dinner, etc. But it was a gross oversight to not feature Shirley’s ice cream sooner.

Shirley's ice cream

Shirley’s ice cream

I can’t remember the occasion I first had Shirley’s ice cream, except that it was at our house, and I was surprised at how good it was because she had a somewhat mixed record with desserts. She was often trying to bake confections with apple juice in place of sugar and non-fat yogurt instead of butter, or was hewing to her husband’s periodic experiments in gluten free. Oftentimes the desserts went largely untouched, even by the children who will usually consume anything with even a hint of sweet.

But not the ice cream. While she did make adjustments to the recipe she found in a Williams-Sonoma cookbook that included reducing the sugar by an incredible two thirds and doubling the mint, she went full cream, full milk and full delightfully dark chocolate. And she eliminated the food coloring the recipe asked for. (More than enough chlorophyll in the doubled mint leaves, I’d guess, to lend a beautiful and natural pale green.) I’ve always been a fan of mint & chip ice cream, but I had never tasted anything like this. It was bright and fresh and rich and perfectly sweet. I couldn’t even imagine what it might taste like with three times as much sugar. (I’m not the average American in that regard, I guess…)

She made it again for a dinner party recently. “If I ever have a birthday and you do not make this for me,” I warned her, “I will not speak to you again.”

Though this recipe came from a cookbook originally, Shirley has evolved it to her tastes and added her own love and mojo — I’m sure it would not taste so sweet if I was sampling it with the food scientists in the test kitchen at Williams-Sonoma. Plus, Shirley uses eggs from her own chickens, and we all know what kind of difference that can make!


*    *    *

Shirley’s fresh mint & chocolate chip ice cream
serves lots

1 3/4 cups organic heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole raw milk
1 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
4 large fresh egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces 85% cacao chocolate, shaved into flakes and small chunks

In a large saucepan, combine cream, milk and mint over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to simmer. In a heatproof bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar and salt. Whisk vigorously until the mixture lightens in color and doubles in size, about 2 minutes.

Remove cream mixture from heat. Whisking constantly, fold 1 cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg mixture until smooth. Pour egg-cream mixture back into your pan, whisking constantly, and place over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (about 1-2 minutes). Do not let it boil.

Set up an ice bath (mostly ice with some water) in a large bowl with a smaller glass or stainless steel bowl nested inside. Pour custard through a fine sieve into the smaller bowl; stir occasionally until cool. Remove the bowl from the ice bath and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, from 4 hours up to 3 days.

Pour cold custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to the directions. Add the chocolate during the last minute of churning. Spoon the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and place parchment paper or wax paper directly on the surface. Cover tightly and freeze until firm, from 2 hours up to 3 days.

13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andy
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 00:02:01

    Shirley is pretty.


  2. Mom
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 03:32:46

    You must have been adopted. Mint chip ice cream is anathema to me and while I like chips they are not allowed in my house unless there is company to eat them all up. I personally can’t resist them if they’re there.


  3. Jessamine in PDX
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 05:41:30

    Mint chip is one of my summer favorites because it’s so refreshing. Some ice creams seem to just leave you thirsty but mint always does the trick on a hot day. That picture made me drool.


  4. rachelocal
    Jul 02, 2013 @ 12:00:54

    I love making coconut ice cream with dark chocolate flakes. But I do love mint and have my own pot growing on the deck! Local mint and chip sounds good right now. Thanks for sharing Shirley’s recipe!


  5. Michelle
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 01:52:27

    That’s really interesting. (In a good way. :)) For some reason, it never occurred to me to use fresh mint in ice cream. I bet it’s delicious! There’s a place here (Graeter’s from Cincinnati) that somehow manages to have chunks of chocolate that are soft and chewy. I suspect it probably involves things I’d rather not know about. But I gather that some people achieve a similar result by melting the chocolate and then freezing it in sheets before adding to the ice cream. Hmmm, I think I feel a science project coming on.


  6. Trackback: A Two-Pie Kinda Night | skinny girls & mayonnaise

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