Habeas Custard doesn’t believe in political parties (don’t get me started on nationalism, either), but today is the New Hampshire primary and, interestingly, ice cream has become part of the race — at least on the Democratic side. Ben Cohen, one of the founder’s of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, has begun a fundraiser for Bernie Sanders based on income inequality. It’s a version of mint chocolate chip ice cream in which the chocolate is in the form of a disc at the top of a pint, and the mint ice cream is at the bottom. In a metaphor for the 1% and the rest of us, you have to break up the chocolate 1% disc and mix it into the rest of the ice cream.
Another Ben (also known as BNR), a friend of HC, contacted me about this and I responded with a version of “Well, anyone can do that.” It’s not very difficult. Moreover I don’t believe in gimmicks (beyond the gimmick of naming your ice cream blog after a legal term and then never discussing the law despite being a lawyer) — and this reeked of gimmickry. Plus, it’s basically crème brûlée but with hard chocolate, and then mixing it up? Please. That’s more trouble than it’s worth, and messy, as seen in the video. I’m not a Coldstone Creamery.
But I like a challenge, and BNR was nice enough to ask me about it again, so I thought about how I’d do it. I have a pretty good mint chip recipe, but the idea of whacking a frozen piece of chocolate seemed undignified. I would like people eating my ice cream to not resemble the apes at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead of melted chocolate that’s been refrozen, I’ve opted to use a frozen ganache.* Ganache is a mixture of hot cream and chocolate that’s been whisked and cooled — it makes a decadent frosting, and, because it’s softer, is easier to break up than a pure round of chocolate. Happy New Hampshire Caucus Day. Go forth and redistribute.
BNR’s Mint Chocolate Chip
(inspired by Ben Cohen)
For the ice cream:
2 cups cream
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup sugar
3 egg yolks
½ teaspoon mint extract
½ teaspoon table salt
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
For the ganache:
1 cup cream
16 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into ¼ inch pieces or smaller
Put one cup of milk in a large bowl and position a strainer above it.
Whisk to combine 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, chopped mint, mint extract and salt in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat, whisking frequently, but don’t let it boil. Remove from heat, cover with lid, and let sit for half an hour.
Whisk three egg yolks in a medium bowl. It’s OK if there are some traces of egg white — no need to be a perfectionist — but try to minimize that.
Reheat the dairy mixture. When it is hot but not yet simmering (honestly, if it starts to simmer a little, you’ll be OK), remove from heat. Slowly ladle about a cup into the egg yolks, whisking with one hand while ladling with the other to temper the yolks.
Once complete, transfer the yolk mixture to the pot, and then return to medium heat. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom at times. Once the custard is thick enough to slightly coat the back of the spatula (another sign: you will start to notice that scraping the bottom of the pot encounters some solid residue), remove from heat and pour through the strainer.
I whisk the base as it strains to speed up the process a bit — this is particularly useful for this base, which will have a lot of the mint leaves straining out. Wash the whisk off. Once the base has strained, whisk the base with the milk mixture that’s at the bottom until combined. Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool for thirty minutes (if you’re too lazy, it’s ok to just do this on the counter). Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least two hours before churning.
When ready to churn, whisk the mixture to reincorporate the base. Pour into the ice cream maker and follow the instructions. Transfer to a container, ensuring that an inch remains at the top between the ice cream and the lid, and freeze for eight hours.
When the ice cream is fully frozen, prepare the ganache. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Over medium heat, fill a small pot with about an inch of hot water, then put the cream in small bowl over the top of the pot (effectively making a double boiler). Once the cream is hot but not simmering, pour into the bowl with the chocolate, whisking as you pour. Once the ganache is smooth and no chunks remain, let cool for five minutes. Use a spatula to spread the ganache from the bowl onto the top of the frozen ice cream, and smooth until it is roughly even. Recover the bowl and freeze at least an hour before serving.
* An apocryphal origin story of ganache, which can mean “fool” in French, is that the famous French chef Auguste Escoffier yelled at an assistant who mistakenly added hot cream to chopped chocolate, rather than a bowl of egg yolks whisked with sugar. I like this story, even if it’s not true, because I sometimes have the temperament of a despotic French chef who might yell “Fool!” at a hapless aide.