Chocolate and Mint Ice Cream
'Mmm, this is possibly the sexiest dessert I ever eaten!', my friend Sylvia purred as she slowly licked silky mint chocolate ice cream from a spoon. That was quite a compliment coming from Sylvia, given that the lady is a superb cook in her own right. But I knew she was spot on, as I have been making the ice cream in question for years and it has always received similarly rave reviews.
With the mint sprigs in pots in our courtyard peeping out to say hello to the warm sunshine after a long and bitter Canberra winter, I thought it a good time to revisit this recipe. Funny that a common and everyday herb, like mint, combined with just a few quality ingredients can form such a rich, smooth and decadent dessert. The combination of mint and chocolate is not everybody's favourite. Indeed I know at least one person who simply cannot abide it. But if you are one of the many who do appreciate the taste of mint chocolate (and there must be plenty of you), then add this ice cream to your repertoire. The recipe is from the Family Circle Herbs and Spices Cookbook, which was published by Murdoch Books in 1995. It is quick and easy to prepare (seriously, less than half an hour prep, minus freezing time).
For best results, use only quality ingredients, including a good brand of dark and milk chocolate; market-fresh cream; free range eggs and freshly picked mint. Here's what you need to do. Heat one cup of cream in a small saucepan with 1/4 cup of mint leaves (the recipe recommends chopping the mint, but you only need to chop it roughly). Stir this mixture over a low heat until the cream is just about to boil, then take it off the heat and allow it to cool. Add 100g of dark chocolate and 60g of milk chocolate (I used Belgian chocolate buttons on this occasion) to the cream/mint and stir over a low heat until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Set aside briefly.
Whisk two eggs with one tablespoon of caster sugar in a small bowl until the mixture is creamy, then gradually add the warm melted chocolate cream through a strainer. Discard the mint and stir the mixture until it is well combined. Allow this mixture to cool, then churn it in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't have an ice cream machine, freeze it in a metal bowl until the ice cream is just firm, then beat briefly and return to the freezer overnight. This quantity will serve four.
The author points out that 'the strong mint flavour ... is fresh and delicious and quite unlike that of mint essence. Dried mint will not give the same result'. Now I'm not sure if John Marshall, ice cream expert and owner of Frugii, would approve (note, I've saved some for you, John!), but I'd love to hear your thoughts, dear reader. Do you love or hate chocolate with mint, and please let me know if you do try the recipe.
And to finish off, let's try something just a little bit different: a mint sandwich! According to the Country Women's Association ladies in The Coronation Cookery Book (CWA NSW, 1941), 'Brown bread, cream cheese and freshly minced mint-leaves make extraordinarily good sandwiches ... Soften the cream cheese, adding cream to make it a good consistency for spreading, season with salt and a little pepper and add one tablespoon of minced mint-leaves. Use as a filling for the buttered brown bread'.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.