Today it was 34°C in the shade…and climbing after I read the thermometer. Dreaming of being cool, I managed to pull off an ice cream that proves minty freshness isn’t only found in toothpaste!
Forgive the run of ice creams on Red Bistro (another coming up next week), but with heat cloying all around, one is constantly making, eating or dreaming of icy desserts! Anything to make us feel better when body and mind are in a stupor. I need to plan, prep, photo and post all the ice creams I’ve in my head before July as temps will only be hotter and ice creams wait for no one, let alone a dose of food styling in melting temperatures. Mint sprung to mind not only for its cooling properties, but also because my poor garden mint is not going to last much longer and needs to be put to good use.
Usually I plant mint in the shade in a pot so I can move it around, but I read somewhere that Mediterranean mints can thrive in the sun. Certainly one five-star hotel in Malta right on the sea has huge beds of mint flourishing in the midday heat. Mine isn’t too happy, so probably a variety meant for colder climes. Seeing it’s on its way out, I decided to use it all up in one fell swoop, but in what? What could need such handfuls? As I experimented with this ice cream, I was somewhat dubious that it would work. I chucked an arbitrary and large amount in the blender in the hope that I could create a light mint hue without resorting to artificial food colourings. I am not a fan of neon green food, least of all neon ice creams, unlike Jacob who will always go for the most luminous green cake or ice he can find (most kids would be attracted to beacons of strawberry red, I would think).
Anyway, to avoid an overly ‘savoury’ flavour (Jacob predicted it would taste like mint sauce), I added three X-tra strong mints, a guestimate on the mintiness Richter scale that turned out just right. The cream dulls the overpowering zip in mint sweets giving this ice cream a mellow mintiness perfect with the odd chocolate thin. I’d suggest serving it also with chocolate sauce to make it a trebly delightful dessert for dinner parties (and kids!).
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
Double Mint Delight Ice Cream
Serves 6 desserts of 3 scoops
500 ml full-fat cream (single is fine or whipping)
250ml full-fat whole milk
100g sugar (granulated)
Fresh mint leaves (around 40 leaves or one largish handful), washed and patted dry
3 Extra Strong mint sweets – crumbly, powdery sort, not boiled sweets.
1. Place the milk along with the mint leaves (washed, patted dry and long stalks removed) and extra strong mint sweets into a food processor or blender. Whiz up until the leaves and sweets are very finely chopped.
2. Place the milk-mint mix along with the cream and sugar* in thick-based saucepan and heat gently over a low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid only just beginning to steam a little. Allow the mixture to cool; you can speed this up by placing the pan in a larger pan or bowl of cold water and ice cubes. Then chill in the fridge for a good 3 hours, or overnight if you can. Ice cream churns more successfully if you start with very cold liquids.
3. When well chilled, strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any larger mint leaf particles.
4. Churn the mixture for around 20-30 minutes, or according to your particular ice cream machine’s instructions, until thickening nicely. Transfer to a lidded container and freeze for a minimum of 3 hours before serving.
5. To serve, remove a few minutes before serving to soften a little. Serve with chocolate mint thins and/or chocolate sauce and a fresh mint sprig to garnish.
* I haven’t put much sugar in as the sweets add more. But it can take more sugar if you like. Try it once with the amounts above and adjust if need be on second making.