Even though I had... I mean, have, plenty of work to do, work that I meant to start today, I couldn't help myself. It's been so long since I've been able to play around in the kitchen that when all was said and done, three different sweet treats were made and no school work was completed. That's OK. At least I'll have good snacks now while I work tomorrow!
The first thing I made today was mint chocolate chip ice cream. I am a die-hard fan of Breyer's Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I think it is hereditary because my mom suffers from the same affliction. Fortunately for her, she gets enough exercise these days that she is able to buy the stuff and not feel too badly... but when I buy it and eat the whole thing in less than a day I wind up not being able to button my pants. I simply cannot help myself when the stuff is around. I sometimes wonder if there's some narcotic in there that makes it so impossible to stop eating. I can't even be troubled to get a bowl out of the cupboard, for crying out loud. Anyway, I could go on and on about how afflicted I am, but instead I'll tell you the solution I devised to allow myself the satisfaction without the waist bulge.
I make my own using whole milk. Sure, it still has a lot of sugar in it. Sure, it's not a health food. But I can eat a scoop of it and be satisfied without feeling compelled to eat the whole carton. It's a good feeling, you know. And it's not because it's not good. It is. Again, I can eat one (you heard me, one) scoop and be happy. It's minty; it's chocolaty... it's pretty dadgum creamy for a treat that is basically an ice milk.
While there are a variety of ice cream makers/churns out there, these days I use my Cuisinart electric one most of the time. This recipe fits perfectly in it. You want to make sure to not overload the churn so that there is plenty of room for air to fluff up your ice cream. Air is one of the things that really makes it taste creamier than it might otherwise.
I mix all of the ingredients (except chocolate) in a mason jar with a sealing lid, shake it up and leave it in the refrigerator to come together for a few hours. During this time, if I happen by the refrigerator, I'll give it another shake. This time is necessary to allow the sugars to melt and the guar gum to become saturated. Once a few hours (or up to a couple of days) are up, pour the mixture into a prepared ice cream churn. Turn it on and let it go. The Cuisinart churn uses a coolant filled chamber that you place in the freezer so that you don't have to mess with ice and salt. A couple of tips, though:
- I store mine in the freezer at all times so that it is really nice and cold when I want to use it.
- I store mine upside down so that the coolant is frozen into the "top" of the container. That way, as I churn, the top of the chamber is as cold as the bottom.
- Be sure the freezer you store it in is at least at zero degrees F. The colder it is, the more firm you can get your ice cream during the churning and the more air you can incorporate.
Here is what it looked like just a few minutes after I got started. I think it took my ice cream about half an hour to churn. Again, I like to let it go as long as I dare before I start worrying that the motor is getting too hot. Here's what it looked like when I pulled it out. Notice how it stands in ridges in the freezer.
While you can serve it immediately and it will taste divine, I like to let it ripen in the freezer a bit first. Homemade ice cream fresh out of the churn melts so fast it's a bit ridiculous. I like to put it in a plastic container and then I smooth out the top so that there is less surface area on which ice crystals can form.
A couple of hours is all it takes before it is really ready to go. However, as long as you were careful to let it run long enough to get a fair amount of air in it and used the guar gum, you should have a scoopable ice cream until it gets eaten up.
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Yield: about 3 1/2 cups
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp mint extract
2 TBS heavy cream
1/3 cup mini-chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients together except for the chips into a quart jar with a sealing lid. Shake for a minute and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Shake occasionally, if possible.
Pour the milk mixture into a prepared ice cream churn. Churn until the ice cream is thick and stands in ridges as it works it way through the paddle. Remove the paddle and fold in the chocolate chips. Decant into a quart-sized plastic container. Smooth out the top, cover, and place in the freezer to ripen for at least a few hours before enjoying.
Oh, and what else did I make today that I'll be posting in the coming days, you might ask? Mincemeat Handpies and Lemon Ricotta Tarts coming right up!