My relationship with mint chocolate chip ice cream goes waaaay back. Growing up, it was the ultimate cure-all. Tough day at school? Boyfriend blues? Traumatic display of your non-athletic abilities during gym class? Whatever the issue, a big bowl of minty, chocolatey goodness was always the remedy. As an adult, I can't say that my relationship with the stuff has changed much. Practically any event that calls for a celebration also calls for a few generous scoops. Which is why, late last week, less than 48 hours before the 2nd Avenue opening, despite the many tasks that were still ahead of us, I was certain to carve out time to whip up my most favorite go-to indulgence. Whether the weekend would end up as a success or an epic failure, I knew that by the time all was said and done, I'd be in serious need of something sweet.
If you had walked into the shop last Wednesday, you likely would have gasped, rambled off some generic comment about how great the place looked, and then quickly made your way outside to text your friend, informing her that the place would never (and I mean never) be ready in time for the scheduled opening on Friday. At that point, cardboard boxes and milk crates were still stacked everywhere (dear God, how many hotel pans and tongs did we purchase while running the pop-up markets?), our electrician (who is no longer our electrician) engaged in some faulty wiring, and our tables and countertops failed to arrive on time (yeah...).
By Thursday, we were all already exhausted, and we weren't even open yet. But the thing you learn very quickly when you own your own place, the thing that is so freeing and liberating on some days and a total buzz kill on others, is the fact that when things need to get done, you kind of just have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and do it (all) yourself. It's hard to even say now who did what, and how, specifically, it all came together. But it did. Throughout the day on Thursday, our new electrician solved all of our wiring problems, the dining room furniture finally arrived and was set in place, the meat was in the oven, sending a familiar and comforting aroma throughout the space, and we all finally agreed that we were satisfied with our new vegan/vegetarian recipe (perhaps you'll recall my ranting about our troubles naming this little healthful gem of ours). Although the chef and I did not make it to our bed until precisely 3:38 a.m. (and needed to head back to the shop at 6:00 a.m.), by the time our heads hit our pillows, our opening day to-do lists were finally done.
There was a big part of me that assumed I'd be a nervous wreck the morning of our opening. However, all sense of drama aside, I was simply too exhausted to even think. After chugging down a few very strong coffees, I tended to the final details, wiping down the tables, shining up the front windows, and holding open the front door as our bread and drink deliveries arrived. And then, before we had a chance to wrap our minds around everything, the phones began to ring and a line of customers wrapped its way from our counter, through the dining room and out onto the sidewalk. From that moment on, the remainder of the weekend was a blur of taking orders, greeting friends, running to the market up the block for extra produce, prepping meat, washing dishes, dealing with a flooded drain, and generally being happy as hell. All this in addition to a twenty-minute hiatus to the bar across the street to raise a quick glass to a girl who's birthday just happened to correlate with the shop's opening day (this just in: I'm now 31).
By the time the chef and I got home Sunday night, there was nothing in the world that either of us wanted more than our couch and an hour or two to unwind. It was mid-way through watching the new episode of Breaking Bad (how the chef had the mental capacity to remember to set the DVR is still a mystery to me), that I remembered the two quart containers of ice cream that were patiently waiting for me.
Since I'm passionate about my love of ice cream, the chef and I have tried many recipes in our home kitchen over the years. Hands down, we've both long agreed that this is the absolute best. This recipe for mint chocolate chip ice cream is for true ice cream fanatics. It is ice cream made the right way -- none of that fat free, swirl around a banana until it takes on a consistency similar to ice cream stuff. This ice cream is both super rich and creamy, thanks to a properly made custard base, though the indulgence is well-balanced by a refreshing blast of cool mint. It is, by far, my most favorite way to celebrate a victory. Needless to say, between the two of us, we killed an entire quart.
More later this week...
Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
from Ad Hoc At Home
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, rinsed
1 1/3 cups sugar
10 egg yolks
1/2 cup chocolate chips, chopped
Add the milk, cream and mint to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to sit for about 20 minutes in order for the mint to infuse the cream.
Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan. Add 2/3 cup of the sugar and heat over medium high heat. Whisk constantly to allow the sugar to dissolve.
Whisk the remaining sugar and the yolks in a large bowl until thickened. While continuing to whisk the yolks, slowly add the milk mixture. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a clean saucepan and strain the liquid into the pan.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Set a medium sized bowl in the ice bath. Set a fine-mesh sieve inside the medium bowl.
Place the saucepan over medium high heat and cook, stirring constantly, being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan, until the mixture reaches a custard-like consistency and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture into the medium sized bowl and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is cool, refrigerate until cold.
Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Fold in the chocolate chips, transfer to a storage container and freeze until the ice cream is hard.