I have spearmint growing in my garden, and I planted it (OK, I bought it and my husband planted it, full disclosure) with the idea of making tea. You don't need to dry the leaves, just take about six leaves off the plant, pop into a mug and add boiling water. Done. I usually let them sit there until it's a comfortable temperature to drink, and then remove them. It's also nice cold, and very refreshing. But that isn't going to use many of your leaves. Enter mint ice cream.
One of my all-time favourite ice cream flavours is mint choc chip. I would always savour a mint feast ice lolly as a child, loving that combination of mint and chocolate.
This ice cream isn't like that though. If you are after that sort of taste, use peppermint extract or essence (I've used this recipe in the past; omit the vanilla and add 3 tsp peppermint extract after the custard has cooled - it might seem a lot, but the coldness of the ice cream numbs the flavour).
Today’s ice cream, however, has a slightly herbal taste to it – if you make the tea, you will know the flavour. My husband and children liked it, and I will probably make it again, although next time I will use mint chocolate pieces rather than milk chocolate to give it a double mint whammy. Fancy giving it a go?
300ml double cream
4 egg yolks
35g mint leaves (about 1 cup, you don't have to be precise with this!)
125g chopped chocolate of your choice
Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan. Add the mint leaves, giving them a good bashing with your wooden spoon to help release the oil from the leaves. Alternatively, you could bruise the leaves with a pestle and mortar before adding to the pan. Bring the mixture almost to the boil, then remove from the heat, leaving it for at least an hour, so the mint can fully flavour the milk and cream.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until light and fluffy. Pour the minty milk through a sieve and discard the leaves.
Add the egg and sugar mixture. Heat the custard over a moderate heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Bring it slowly towards the boil, but do not allow to actually boil. Once the minty custard is thick enough to thinly coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove it from the heat. Pour it into a cold bowl and leave it to cool. You can speed this part up by sitting the bowl in a basin of ice cold water.
Once it’s cool, refrigerate it for half an hour or so before pouring into an ice cream machine. Churn until it is almost frozen, and then add your chocolate – if you add it too early, it will all just sink to the bottom. Churn for a few minutes more, so the chocolate is fully incorporated. Spoon into a plastic container and place in the freezer for at least a couple of hours before serving.
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