Dark Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

I’ve never really been a fan of mint chocolate anything. Something about the harshness of the mint flavor in most candy or ice cream typically takes away from the chocolate, in a way that makes neither flavor enjoyable to me. But when you make an ice cream with real, fresh mint, it’s a whole different story.

Most of my ice creams are unusual-bordering-on-wacky, and I like it that way. But I also love to make (in my humble opinion) better versions of the classics, and I think this take on mint chocolate chip is absolutely delightful.

When I was working at Heritage Creamery in Waco, making a mint ice cream sparked one of the first questions that I specifically remember altering the way I think about food: Why is mint ice cream usually green? I’ll let you in on a trade secret — there’s nothing about the way mint ice cream is made that makes it green naturally. The green is purely artificial coloring (much like the flavoring in most mint flavors as well).

So why do we expect it? Because we’ve been trained by marketing campaigns and the illusion of supermarkets to think that “good” produce is bright, uniform, and perfectly colored. The problem, as you’ll know if you garden or shop at farmers markets, is that this idea is just that — an illusion. Perfect textures and colors in produce are almost always created artificially, adding unnecessary and often unhealthy dyes and other inorganic compounds to our food.

So instead of buying some artificially flavored, artificially colored mint nonsense, try this all-natural, fresh, delicious mint chocolate chunk ice cream with no made-up colors. It starts with a light (in amount) dark chocolate base, infused with fresh steeped mint, and gets hand-chopped chocolate chunks that make for a chunky texture without breaking your teeth off.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 1  1/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1  1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1-2 oz fresh mint (depending on how strong you like your mint flavor)

Instructions:

Base:

  1. Combine milk, cream, 3/4 cup of cane sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a medium stock pot or saucepan. Stirring frequently (especially until mixture is fully combined), heat over medium-high until warm.
  2. When the base is warmed, add the cocoa powder and whisk in; it might not all whisk in immediately, which is fine — it will continue to incorporate as you go. Continue to heat to 160˚F.
  3. At 160˚F, turn off the heat. Throw in the mint, and stir it around briefly to make sure it all gets wet (there’s no need to chop the mint up; just throw it in, stems and all). Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, crack the 4 eggs, separating the egg yolks into a small bowl and disposing of the whites and shells. Whisk together the egg yolks with the other 1/2 cup cane sugar and set aside.
  5. After the mint has steeped, uncover the pot. Using a fine mesh strainer or a spoon with holes in it, remove the mint leaves.
  6. Using a ladle or measuring cup, temper the eggs by slowly pouring about 1/2 cup of the hot base into the eggs, while whisking constantly, until the egg/sugar/hot base mixture loosens up. Then pour the mixture back into the base, whisking constantly.
  7. After the egg mixture has been fully incorporated into the base, turn the heat back on at medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, bring the base to 170˚F and turn off heat.
  8. Pour the cooked based through a fine mesh strainer and into a heat-safe bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator and allow to chill, uncovered, until the base is cool to the touch, stirring occasionally to decrease cooling time.
  9. When the base is cool to the touch, cover, return to the refrigerator, and allow to set for 4-5 hours.

Churn:

  1. Using a chef’s knife (or in a food processor if you prefer), chop the chocolate chips into smaller chunks. Put them in a small freezer-safe container and allow them to chill until the end of the churn.
  2. After allowing the base to set, whisk thoroughly.
  3. Set up your churner.
  4. Pour the base into the churner and turn the cycle on. Allow the ice cream to churn and freeze until it has the consistency of thick soft-serve throughout, 15-30 minutes depending on your churner.
  5. Just as it reaches this consistency, slowly pour the chilled chocolate chunks into churner, for just long enough for them to mix evenly (30 seconds or less).
  6. Pour the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and cover. Allow the ice cream to harden to a consistent texture throughout, roughly 6-8 hours depending on your freezer.
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