I’m not a fan of mint ice cream. Possibly because of the unnatural green tint. However, recently I went to a strawberry farm to get some fresh strawberries and it just so happened that they were selling fresh mint. It was then that I got the idea to make strawberry-mint ice cream. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe this combination.
In my white chocolate raspberry ice cream post, I described the basic technique of creating ice cream custard. This time I will detail methods of temperature control. Some recipes might call for a double-boiler to regulate temperature because it removes the custard from the heat source. I don’t think that is necessary though.
The truth is that more than just a measure of how hot or cold, temperature is the measure of the average translational kinetic energy of a substance. Cooking involves transferring energy, in the form of heat, to food. It stands to reason that because temperature is average kinetic energy of a substance (in the case of ice cream a custard), the entire custard actually has a range of temperatures. The custard at the bottom of the pot will have much more energy (be hotter) than the rest of the custard.
How does this knowledge affect ice cream custard? Knowing that the custard will curdle soon after reaching the set point (170°F), this knowledge allows you to utilize heat control efficiently. As long as you constantly stir the custard (after returning the custard to the stove after the egg tempering step), the custard at the bottom of the pan will be incorporated with the rest of the custard. This means that the temperature of the custard will be virtually uniform throughout.
I like to keep the custard on medium until the custard reached about 145°F. Once 145°F is reached, I lower the temperature a little. I allow the custard to reach 160°F on the slightly lower setting. I then lower the temperature one more time and cook until 170°F. The whole time I cook the custard I am stirring. It is important not to leave the custard, especially towards the end of the cooking process, or the custard will curdle. Curdling occurs at the bottom of the pan first, so be warned.
If you don’t have a thermometer, I can’t recommend these temperature control steps. There are two methods for observing whether the custard is done. The first is to watch for the first sight of bubbles. The second is to cook until the custard coats the bottom of a spoon. They are not the most accurate methods, but they are close enough estimates to allow you to make really good ice cream.
Strawberry Mint Ice Cream
Estimated Time: 8- 12 hours
Custard preparation: 30 minutes
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of whole milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla
Pinch of salt
15-20 mint leaves
6 whole eggs
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of strawberries
- Bring cream, milk, salt, and mint just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat.
- Whisk eggs and sugar in large bowl to blend.
- Temper the custard into egg mixture: While whisking, slowly pour hot cream mixture into egg mixture until one third of the cream is incorporated into the eggs. Then while stirring, slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the cream mixture.
- Turn the stove top to medium low. While constantly stirring, bring the cream/egg mixture to about 170°F. (A test you can use if you don’t have a thermometer is to use your finger to make a line on the back of your stirring spoon. If the line holds on the back of the spoon without being covered by dripping cream then it is ready to be removed from heat.
- Remove immediately from stove-top and strain the mixture into a medium bowl. Stir the vanilla into the custard mixture.
- Allow the custard to cool to near room temperature (about 30 minutes) then place bowl in refrigerator for at least 3 hours (overnight preferred).
- Then follow the directions on the ice cream freezer to form ice cream.
- Freeze the ice cream for at least 1 hour
- Add chopped strawberries to the mixture and freeze for 2 more hours or until hardened.