Wherein I, Irvin Lin of Eat the Love, channel my inner America’s Test Kitchen and make the Perfect Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

by Irvin on July 8, 2013 · 11 comments

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Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

Even though I’m lactose intolerant, I suffer through it for ice cream. It’s one of my big weaknesses, and it doesn’t help that I live in a city that is full of fantastic artisan ice cream shops. From the old school Mitchell’s to my neighborhood BiRite Creamery, to the hipster Humphry Slocombe to the retro futuristic liquid nitrogen made Smitten Ice Cream, to the signature booze inspired scoops at Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous to the homey handmade Three Twins frozen delights, San Francisco rocks the ice cream shops over pretty much anywhere else I’ve been. But every now and then, when I visit elsewhere, I fall in love with a flavor that I have a hard time finding in San Francisco. That’s what happened when I was down in Los Angeles recently and had Sweet Rose’s signature Fresh Mint Chip. It was good, startling good actually, but I knew I could improve on it. Channeling my Cook’s Illustrated mojo, I developed the Perfect Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (which I humbly submit to you guys as the best ever).

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

I’ve always had a love of mint and chocolate. Growing up, obviously the green mint chocolate chip was what I requested on the rare occasions we went for ice cream at the big chain ice cream shops (my parent’s weren’t the “going to get ice cream” sort of folks). As I got older, I discovered that if the mint chocolate chip WASN’T green, it meant it was fancy mint chocolate chip. Even as a kid, I loved me something fancy. But once I tasted fresh mint at Sweet Rose’s, all bets were off. Fresh mint was where it’s at, anything made from the mint oil or extract (though certainly easier to make) tasted cloyingly like candy. The herbal green flavors of the fresh mint went so well with dark chocolate, I’m not sure if I could go back to the extract/oil flavored stuff (green or not).The menu at Sweet Rose's Ice Cream in Los Angeles. Photo by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

So I did what any typical food blogger/recipe developer does when confronted with an issue about food – I looked for the perfect fresh mint ice cream recipe. Yep, I did my research. David Lebovitz steeps his mint in a hot egg yolk custard as did the fresh mint recipe at the Oregonian. Sweet Rose’s cold steeps their mint while Jeni’s Splendid also does a cold steep – but no egg yolks. Epicurious had you hot steeping and then sitting in the whole egg custard for way longer that I felt comfortable (the mint leaves brown after while, making the custard brown as well). And my beloved BiRite Creamery actually uses peppermint oil (oh how could you?). Most of them had added plain chopped chocolate to the ice cream or making your own chocolate chip that just involved melting them and drizzling the chocolate into the cold ice cream. I knew I could do better.

Fresh Mint for the Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

Coming up with the perfect fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream wasn’t hard, but it did mean that I had to take what was out there and composite together. I opted to go with Jeni’s Splendid’s Ice Cream’s method of no egg yolk because I didn’t want the egg yolk fat to dull the bright freshness of the real mint leaves. I used a combination of hot steeping and cold steeping to really get a mint punch (if you only use a hot steep or you hot steep too long, you risk losing the bright herbal flavor AND the mint turns brown which in turn turns the ice cream slightly brown). I also adapted BiRite’s method of making chocolate chips by adding olive oil to the chocolate, thereby lowering the melting point of the chocolate so when you eat the ice cream you aren’t left with cold chunks of chocolate in your mouth after the ice cream melts away. After channeling the spirit of Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen, I had finally made the perfect Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Now I just need a cute hand drawn illustration of it, as well as long unrelated story based out of Vermont to make it all complete.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. www.eatthelove.com

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

alexandra @ sweet betweens [blog] July 8, 2013 at 7:12 am

thankful for your research endeavors as mint chip is my most absolute favorite flavor. will now be scrapping all other attempts at the perfect version as I know this one will be amazing!

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Adri July 8, 2013 at 7:52 am

Well, didn’t you go the whole nine yards for this, channeling as you said, Cook’s Illustrated in the process. As a kid, I always went for the Chocolate Mint Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins (we always called it “31 Flavors,” the store I mean.) I grew up thinking that mint ice cream MUST be green, and discovered, as an adult, that if the ice cream was not green, I did not think it could really taste like mint. Funny, the tricks our minds play on us. Thankfully I got over the need for green.

I too use a bit of oil in my ice creams that have “chocolate add-ons.” It does wonders for the mouthfeel, melting point and general harmony of the end product. It is good to agree.

Nice thinking, to about the double steep method. I cccccompletely understand your logic.

By the way, have you ever use chocolate mint, the plant? It lends infusions a remarkably gentle sort of mint flavor with a real hint of chocolate.

Thanks for a great recipe, and my compliments to you on simply glorious work.

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merri July 8, 2013 at 12:30 pm

mmm sounds good, I used to love mint choc chip ice cream. growing up, we had bryers, which is white, so i was pretty scared of any green types. but the bad thing was, the chocolate chunks did get stuck in your mouth. how smart to invent a way to make them melt with the ice cream! sadly, i almost never eat ice cream, and havent even tried most of those places. like you, it gives me a tummy ache. and on top of that, i literally pass out, this has happened since i was a little kid. boo.

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Rita July 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm

The fresh mint chip from Sweet Rose Creamery has changed my life. I used to hate mint chocolate chip (tasted like toothpaste; bastardized the glory that is regular chocolate chip) but now that one is my favorite! I can’t get enough of it!

I can’t wait to try yours!!

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Lynn at Order in the Kitchen July 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I love that you did all this research! BRAVO Irvin! I really want to try this now!!

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Miss Kim @ behgopa July 9, 2013 at 12:50 am

One of my fav ice cream flavors! I’m craving this right now. Lol I was just reading another blog that mentioned The Big Gay Ice Cream shop in NY, and now I read this. Totally need ice cream now, mint chocolate chip, please!

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Deb July 9, 2013 at 9:04 am

I will also admit to loving B&R’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice cream; so much so, that for years it was my favorite flavor! Now with so many great ice cream shops and ice cream cookbooks I opt to try new flavor combinations and forgo the Chocolate Mint. But your post touched a place of nostalgia and I may just delve into your creamy bliss of a recipe!

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Nik@ABrownTable July 9, 2013 at 1:02 pm

This sounds delicious and you sure did channel your own America’s Test Kitchen :) The ice cream looks divine and tempting.

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Chase X. Neal July 11, 2013 at 2:00 am

His revised request? Mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. I was happy to oblige. So consider this part one of two – the full cake is coming your way next week. But since I knew I wanted to make the cake from scratch, it was time to first find a recipe for mint ice cream. And I absolutely love this version since it uses fresh mint.

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Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes July 14, 2013 at 7:53 am

I´m trying this recipe Irvin, for sure. Mint leaves here have so little flavor, but then 2 cups is probably a good amount. Can´t wait, I love this combo.

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Nancy @ gottagetbaked July 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Whoa Irvin, you totally went above and beyond with this recipe. How many batches of ice cream did you make before you found the winning combination? Thanks for going through all the testing so that we can all benefit ;) This looks amazing and it must be ridiculously flavourful.

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