If my kids had it their way, ice cream would be a food group, or an entire meal. And in the dog days of summer, I can hardly disagree. There is nothing quite as satisfying as its cold, creamy goodness, especially when it’s made from pure and fresh ingredients.
In summer, we often find ourselves with hoards of others in long queues outside ice cream shops. The teenagers who work there (the ones with the disproportionately large biceps on their dominant arm) are usually a friendly bunch. Some even understand my personal plight…the perfect scoop of uncontaminated gluten-free ice cream.
Most ice cream is gluten-free (save the cookies and cream varieties), but most cones are not. And the scoops that pass from container to cone to container, often only getting a quick dip in a bucket of water between scoops, also pass gluten along from container to container. To be truly safe, the celiac needs to ask for a clean scooper, and a fresh container of ice cream. Some places like our favorite Sundae School in Cape Cod, will happily oblige. Other places not so much.
Obviously the safest place for me to eat ice cream…or anything really, is at home. And I make ice cream with some frequency in the summer months. My master recipe is super duper easy. I use it to make vanilla, peppermint, strawberry, chocolate chip and mint chip ice creams. I love it because it doesn’t require a custard base so it’s creamy without being overly rich.
Of all the flavors I make, my family loves mint chip ice cream most of all. This simple recipe is actually made from fresh mint (that threatens to take over my garden at any moment), half & half, milk, sugar and semi-sweet chocolate. It’s the palest shade of green with fresh, herbal notes and it’s studded throughout with chocolate shards. Dairy free? Not a problem, substitute the dairy in this recipe with equal parts whole-fat coconut milk.
I wish it was my idea to infuse the cream with mint & drizzle the soft set ice cream with melted chocolate, but it really comes from the brilliant David Lebovitz who wrote an ice cream recipe book called the Perfect Scoop.
Hot summer days call for a cool treat, yes? What flavors of ice cream do you scream for?
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¾-1 cup sugar, to taste
- pinch salt
- 2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
- ¼ teaspoon mint extract, if desired
- 12 ounces of gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate (chips are okay)
- Heat half and half, milk, sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat until bubbles begin to form around the edges and it is just about to boil. Remove from heat, add the mint leaves and steep for one hour. The mixture will be a pale green and have a strong herbal mint flavor. If the flavor isn't minty enough for your taste, add mint extract.
- Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a bowl. Cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours or until the ice cream base is cold. Alternately, place the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice and stir for 15 minutes, or until the base is cold.
- Pour base into the frozen bowl of your ice cream machine. Churn according to manufacturer's directions. Mine takes about 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile melt the chocolate in the microwave. Break it up into chunks and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1½ minutes. Stir chocolate with a rubber spatula until fully melted and smooth. Pour the chocolate into a gallon sized zip-top bag and seal.
- When ice cream is nearly done (it will be soft set), drizzle half of the chocolate over the bottom of the container in which you will store your ice cream (I prefer a standard loaf pan).
- Pour the ice cream into the loaf pan and drizzle the remaining chocolate all over the top. Allow to set for a few seconds, then vigorously stir the ice cream (and scrape the bottom of the pan) to break up the chocolate into shards.
- Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, 2-3 hours.