In case you didn't notice, Footprints got a year older recently. He won't say exactly how old he is - but I have it on good authority that he could drive a car when Neil Armstrong first kicked up some moon dust.

Lucky thing that Footprints is, he received an ice cream maker for his birthday, and promptly asked me for a recipe or two. My advice to him was to line the birdcage with the recipe book he got with the machine - those recipes are rarely any good. When pressed on what flavour he wanted - he was brief and to the point with his answer - "Chocolate! ... No wait; mint! ... Hang on; chocolate..." Choc mint ice cream seemed to be the recipe of choice. I hit our churner at work with cream, eggs, couverture and fresh bunches of mint and this is the first recipe I came up with - the second, mint with choc chips can be found here.

This ice cream is wicked, both texture and calorie wise. I have eschewed powdered cocoa and opted instead to use real bitter couverture chocolate - the difference is quite amazing. Once fully set the mouth feel is sensuously smooth, and more than a little sinful. The infused mint adds a lovely herby tang to the utter richness of the ice cream. Consider it a somewhat colder and much more sophisticated after dinner mint.

Here is the low down

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 300 gm (10 1/2 oz) dark couverture chocolate, chopped - the best you can afford
  • 200 gm (6 1/2 oz) caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 500 ml pouring cream (35% butterfat)
  • Method

    Wash the mint well under cold running water, then pat dry. Chop the mint well and add to a small saucepan along with the milk. Place over medium heat and slowly allow the mixture to come to the simmer. Take your time here - because this is where all the mint flavour is coming from. The slower you do this step, the more minty essential oils you will extract into the milk. Figure on about 10 to 15 minutes.

    In the mean time, place the egg yolks and sugar into a large heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Place the chocolate into a second heatproof bowl

    Once the milk has just started simmering, and is infused nicely with mint, pass through a strainer directly onto the chocolate. Stir well so that the chocolate melts evenly, then pour the chocolate mix directly onto the egg yolks. Whisk immediately so that the eggs don't go hard. Rinse out the saucepan and dry, then add the chocolate mix. Place over gentle heat and stir the custard constantly. If you stop for even a minute, lumps will form.

    Continue cooking and stirring until the custard reaches 81 °C (170 °F) on a sugar thermometer, or until the custard coats the stirring spoon when you lift it out. Strain the custard into a clean bowl, and then stir in the cream. Allow the mixture to cool completely, then churn in your ice cream machine until set. Transfer the ice cream to the freezer for 6 hours.

    Makes about 1 litre (4 cups)

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