When my close friend and roommate left me eight years ago to move in with his wonderful boyfriend just down the street, he left me a lot of things. His boyfriend was a well-provisioned adult, and I was barely scraping by, so the hand-me-downs were welcome. One of the things he left was an ice cream maker. Every once in a while, I would contemplate the idea of making ice cream but I never did.
Eight years went by and the ice cream maker collected dust. Last year, my husband and I pulled it out and considered selling it at the yard sale my friend and his boyfriend were holding down the street--they were moving to a smaller apartment two neighborhoods away. We didn't sell it; instead, we dusted it off and put it in a new storage place. We vowed to use it soon. We didn't.
Another year went by, but I recently took it out. I experimented first with a simple vanilla ice cream, using some vanilla beans that I foraged in a Mexican market a few years ago. It turned out alright--though a little too fatty for my taste. It was kind of buttery. I served it over a fresh peach pie. My second experiment was with peach ice cream. D had bought a basket of peaches at a roadside green market in Pennsylvania and we couldn't possibly eat them all. This second batch was a little less buttery, but still a bit too creamy for me.
This week I decided to throw myself into the ring all the way and make my favorite ice cream of all time: mint chip. A colleague from work turned me on to a blog by David Lebovitz who writes, among other things, about making ice cream. I printed out the recipe for mint chip and headed to the market. I had no idea how many bunches of mint would make two cups, so I overbought. Then for good measure, I threw a bottle of mint extract in the cart. Instead of heavy cream, I bought light. And instead of whole milk, I bought two percent. In addition to those two ingredient changes, I also added my chopped chips in half-way through the mixing process directly to the ice cream base. I didn't heat it and drizzle as the recipe advised. And, I didn't have to worry about the mint extract, because after the two cups of mint leaves (less than two bunches, it turns out!) had steeped in the milk, I could tell that the flavor would be strong enough. And using light cream and 2% mile made it light and icy, just like I like it.
What is so sublime about this homemade mint chip, though, is the mint flavor. I've never tasted anything like it. To say that it tastes natural is an understatement. I mean, it IS natural. But it actually tastes like being in a garden. Long ago, I forswore mint chip ice cream that had that strange bright green color and only ate Breyer's mint chip. Then Haagen Daaz became the standard. But now? Now I think I'm just going to have to get used to plucking mint leaves to make my own.