I was supposed to talk about how much I miss having a little mint plant in the garden today, which happens to be a very legitimate thing when all the supermarkets in the city are giving you a hard time shopping for fresh mint leaves. But then as I was trying to sort my thoughts out I realized I’ve been in a strange bubble of nostalgia these past few weeks.
It’s not anything extreme, but during those tiny idle moments, say when I’m riding in the backseat of the car and looking out at the streaks of colours running by, I am reminded of how much and how quickly time has passed.
I’ve been missing my university years a lot. I remember the feeling of being so thirsty to learn everything that I can to equip me for the real world. (And eventually realizing that the real world is the most unpredictable sort of monster.) I remember all the misunderstandings and all the subsequent making up I did with my friends, and how much I haven’t seen them in a while. College was like a montage of stressful deadlines woven together with the carefreeness of being young, and then decorated with a sprinkling of unforgettable characters. No wonder plenty of people regard college as some of the best years in their lives.
Inevitably, I dwell a little bit on all my lost opportunities too. In particular, there is this single one I can’t seem to get over despite how many years have passed. At least at this point in my life, if I ever get the question about what I’d change in my past if I had a time machine, this would be it: When I let the opportunity to train with my university volleyball team slip right through my fingers.
And maybe for the rest of my life I’ll be haunted by the stupid choice I made on that day.
Lately I’ve been hooked on watching old and new NCAA PAC-12 college volleyball videos mostly because I found a new idol in USC powerhouse Sammy Bricio. It’s quite amazing to watch her play. Occasionally I wonder what it’s like to study in a school like USC, and it’s that powerful combination of college and volleyball that brings back all these unwanted regrets. The funny thing is, I can’t stop myself from watching the matches anyway. I think I miss my college years so much that even the idea of what I could have been back then brings me a twisted sense of comfort.
It’s much less complicated to just miss the mint plant in our garden. I honestly don’t know why it withered all of a sudden; all I know is the last time I saw it thriving was the day I made this Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream recipe.
I guess I’ll keep this short since I’ve given you enough drama for one day?
Fresh mint leaves have a lot of good uses, and I do think that using it to make ice cream counts as one of those. I’m not talking about those green-tinged mint ice creams you buy from the supermarket. I’m talking about legit, cooked-by-yourself ice cream base that’s been infused with actual mint leaves and not just some liquid extract. Admittedly the flavour isn’t quite as strong, which is probably why it was such a hit in this house. My brothers run away from mint because of how much it apparently reminds them of toothpaste.
Thankfully that is not the case here. I actually would’ve preferred a little more mint flavour in my ice cream, but that was my own fault for not infusing the base for 2 days. I’m using Ruby Violet’s recipe this time and the instructions do not make mention of an ice bath, but since that’s something I’m used to doing I added that little detail below. Also, don’t even think for a second you can substitute chocolate chips (as in for cookies) in this recipe unless you’re planning to melt them. It just doesn’t have the same effect.
The natural cool freshness of the mint infusion creates a light base, but it’s the chocolate “chips” that really pushes this ice cream to the limelight. The thing is, those crisp chips of chocolate all over the mint ice cream creates an interesting texture in the ice cream, giving you something more to think about than just the mint. Granted it’s an extra step when making this ice cream, but let me just say, my brothers made me vow to add the chocolate chip swirls in all my subsequent ice cream creations. That’s the power of chocolate I guess!
- 500 mL heavy cream
- 250 mL whole milk
- 75 grams granulated sugar
- 45 mL egg yolks (about 3)
- Pinch of salt
- 40 grams mint leaves, stripped from stalks
- 100 grams dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao)
- Remember to prepare your ice cream maker ahead of time according to manufacturer's instructions before making this recipe!
- 1. Into a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, and sugar. Bring to the boil over medium heat slowly, then remove from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
- 2. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together egg yolks and salt until well combined.
- 3. While stirring the egg yolks constantly, slowly pour the slightly cooled cream mixture into the bowl. Remember to keep stirring so as not to accidentally scramble your eggs!
- 4. Return the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly until mixture reaches 185°F (85°C) but does not boil. Adjust the heat to maintain this temperature as you stir for about 4 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. To test, run a finger against the back of the spoon coated with the ice cream base. It should create a straight clean line.
- 5. Transfer the ice cream base to a clean container or bowl and let cool over an ice bath. Add the mint leaves into the mixture and leave the base to cool completely before sealing and placing in the fridge. The base can be left in the fridge for as long as 2 days to allow the mint flavour to intensify, but 6 hours to overnight is also good.
- 6. Once ready to be churned, strain the base through a sieve, pressing the mint leaves firmly against the strainer to ensure all the mixture is extracted.
- 7. Churn the ice cream in your machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
- 8. While churning, melt chocolate in a baine-marie and leave on one side to cool. Stir occasionally so it remains runny as you wait for the ice cream to finish churning.
- 9. Once the ice cream is ready, remove from machine and layer into a container, dribbling melted chocolate in between layers of the ice cream to form chocolate chips. Keep in the freezer at least 4 hours before serving.
Man, I want this strange mellowness to pass. I’m really hopeful that I’ll stop feeling overly nostalgic in the next few days. But I still have to figure out how to resurrect my mint plant. There are so many other things I want to use it for!