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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

You might have seen the recent buzz, and it is true.  Graeter's Ice Cream is now in HEB's.  To launch in their new market, Graeter's Ice Cream sent several bloggers some samples of their French Pot ice cream.  The French pot method isn't easy, and it makes only two gallons at a time.  A French pot spins around a blade as the ice cream freezes and thus scraping the sides, as opposed to the blade spinning inside of a pot (which is like many home ice cream machines).  I'm not sure how different the French pot method is to other commercial methods, but I will tell you that I was really intrigued by the chocolate adding process.  In tasting the ice creams, the chocolate was like random pieces of ganche as opposed to consistent small pieces of chocolate.  And this I liked.  According to their website, someone hand mixed low-melting temperature chocolate into the two gallons of ice cream at a time.

So, I decided to make some ice cream myself and to play around with different methods.  Here's how I did it.  The recipes didn't come from anywhere in particular.  I made a typical custard using ratios I normally would for crème brûlée or curd, and then I added whatever I liked.  This is the first time I have made ice cream at home, but I've many plenty of custards. Please note that there were plenty of trials and errors. Please adjust the recipe to how you see fit. 

Mint Chocolate Ice Cream sans ice cream machine
  • 32 ounces of heavy cream
  • 8 oz milk
  • 6 yolks
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar (I don't like overly sweet ice cream)
  • Giant handful of fresh mint (I grabbed about 15 long vines from the garden)
  • green food coloring
  • 24 ounces chocolate (semi-sweet, however much you like. I like a plethora of chocolate.)
  • 1/3 cup raw cocoa nibs (optional)
1. Heat the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a large pot.  After washing the mint, I spanked it hard.  Literally.  I spanked it, and then dropped it into the pot to steep.  Use more mint if you like it really minty, and use less if you like it more subtle.  You can add mint extract too if you like.  I used a whisk to kind of muddle the mint in the mixture. 
2. Add the egg yolks one at a time making sure to thoroughly mix it in.  Keep whisking while the mixture heats up.  I use a thermometer every time I make custards or curds just because I don't trust myself using the back of the spoon method.  I may get too impatient and take it off the heat too soon.  Most custard recipes say to heat until 170 degrees, but I always go to 180 degrees.  Make sure the thermometer isn't sitting on the bottom or sides of the pot so that it gets an accurate temperature reading of the mixture.  Add food coloring here if you like.  Makes sure you keep whisking.

3. Once it up to 180 degrees, remove from heat and strain to remove the mint and other bits that might not have mixed in well.  After straining, I put the mixture onto an ice bath.  That would mean putting the bowl of the mixture into an even bigger bowl filled with ice and water.  That will help the mixture cool faster.  At this point, I put custard into the fridge to chill.

4. Note: If you have an ice cream maker, now is the time to put the mixture into the ice cream maker.  Many hours later, @windaddict gets home, and we decided to freeze the ice cream in the fashion that he wants.  I know that many, many websites recommend this, but I will not do this method again.  It is messy, and it did not work well.  For this method, you put the mixture in a ziploc bag, and then into another bag (to protect your ice cream from the salt water), and then into another bag that you fill with ice and salt.  You're supposed to knead or to roll it around to freeze it. 
@windaddict insisted that we throw it around like a football to mix it up.  First, the bag gets really cold and wet so that makes it difficult to throw and to catch.  I'm sure someone's fingernail put a hole in the bags so everything started leaking.  And with the leaking, I now know what it is like to have ice cream all over the driveway.

5. It is best if you skip step 4.  If you don't have an ice cream machine, you can use this method.  Place the mixture (in a bowl) into the freezer for about two hours.  Take out the bowl, scrape down the sides with a spatula and mix it up.  Your goal is to break up all the ice crystals.  If you have a hand mixer, now is the time to use it.  You want the mixture to be smooth and free of ice crystals in the end.  Place it back in the freezer.  Take it out in about an hour, and mix again.  Repeat this process until the ice cream is getting pretty thick and you feel like you have gotten out all of the ice crystals.  You can serve the ice cream now if you like.

6. To add the chocolate, I melted it in the microwave, and then I drizzled it into the half frozen mixture.  I mixed it in with a spatula rapidly so that the chocolate frozen in to in even pieces.  There were small shards of chocolate.  There were huge chunks of chocolate.  If you don't like it that way, you can use chocolate chips or some other method.  Making many small shards of chocolate in the ice cream has multiple benefits though.  Homemade ice cream will usually have more ice crystals than commercial ice creams.  The texture of 10000 shards of chocolate masks the texture of ice crystals in the ice cream.  That's my little trick to hiding less than creamy ice cream texture.

7. I also added raw cacao nibs to my ice cream (optional).  And here's how I cracked them.  I used a citrus juicer, smashed several pods at a time, and then I picked out the shells by hand.  I added about 1/3 cup of raw cacao nibs to the ice cream.  Peeling the nibs isn't easy.  Mix nibs into the ice cream.

8. Once you are satisfied with the texture of your ice cream, transfer it into an airtight container for deep freezing.  Enjoy!

A big thanks to Graeter's Ice Cream for inspiring to make ice cream at home and for all the wonderful samples. 


  1. Yummy. My ice cream maker spins the pot around the blade too - I didn't know that was something fancy. I did both pink peppercorn ice cream and black pepper/cardamom ice cream the other day, and both were yummy. We've got mint running wild in the backyard too - I'll have to try your recipe!

  2. looks good! Another way to make icecream without a mixer is to throw grated dry ice into a standmixer ( or a bowl belonging to somebody with a feisty whisking hand ) ... makes a really smooth small crystal icecream, however it does get a little carbonated which makes it a little weird.

  3. Delightful and yummy! Awesome!

  4. Mint Chocolate Chip is one of my favorite flavors!!! I enjoy making ice cream, especially since I got the ice cream maker attachment for my kitchenaid stand mixer, makes the process MUCH MUCH easier.