Monday, June 30, 2008

As promised, my failure at mint ice cream

A while back I got a head of steam up to make fresh mint ice cream with chocolate chips. I'd had great success making coffee ice cream by steeping whole coffee beans in a milk-and-cream mixture, then proceeding to the custard-making stage, and finally to freezing, adding a bit of powder-ground espresso just before it was done. Heaven in a bowl! My attempt at mint chocolate chip brought me and the hunky scientist (who's the world's foremost ice cream addict) right back down to earth. I followed essentially the same steps: Combine milk and cream, heat until just before the boiling point, add fresh mint leaves and leave to steep. This yielded a lovely green-colored ice cream base. I made a custard out of it, then cooled it and gave it a sip. It did taste of mint--but it also had a vegetal overtone that was really disconcerting, and none of the zippy tang of good mint ice cream. I scrounged in the spice cabinet for some peppermint oil and added a few drops of that to the mix. That punched up the zip factor, but didn't diminish that bothersome vegetal taste that was muddying the works. I cooled and froze it anyway, adding shaved chocolate at the end. Verdict? OK. Definitely not a success. I won't bother posting photos. In my next attempt at this flavor of ice cream, I'll just go with high-quality mint essence for flavoring, leave the ice cream white, and add a bit more chocolate--more finely shaved this time--and forego the custard step. The warm richness of the custard base interferes with the clean coolness of mint I'm going for. 

On a completely unrelated food topic: I am having a strong craving for my dear friend Jim's anchovy-stuffed olives. They are the smoothest, most wonderful appetizer olives I've ever had (and that's saying a lot, considering I'm half-Greek). I believe they are from Spain; Jim gets them from a cooking-supply site online, and whenever I  stop to visit he puts some on a plate and serves them with crackers or bread and cheese and always a glass of wine. Recalling this makes me miss Jim a hell of a lot more than I miss his olives.