Of all the foods out there, I think that ice cream has the most nostalgia surrounding it. For me at least. Ice cream was a ritual in my home growing up ..... it was a summertime treat, and we visited the same 2-3 ice cream places over and over again when the weather was warm. Not the fancy kinds that are all around me in nyc these days .... I'm talking about the suburban, chain ice cream places. Carvel and Dairy Queen. We were having dinner at a friend's house the other night, and he brought out Carvel Ice cream flying saucers (which is basically their version of an ice cream sandwich) and with one bite I was transported back to my childhood. Granted, I haven't had Cravel ice cream in a very very long time ....... but with one bite it was like no time had passed, it tasted just like summertime as a kid.
One of my favorite memories of ice cream and summertime when I was younger was taking a family bike ride to Dairy Queen on weekend afternoons. Thinking back, it was a really ambitious bike ride, one worthy of a reward of ice cream. I would always order the same thing: the vanilla ice cream cone dipped into the red, hard, cherry flavored shell .... you know the kind that hardens within seconds. I think it was called a cherry bomb. God only knows what ingredients were in it to make it harden like that, but I definitely didn't care then. It was just so good.
Nowadays, I am a little more conscience about the ice cream I eat ..... but that does not mean that I eat it less. In fact, once I found a dairy-free ice cream version that I liked, my freezer never goes without it. My favorite flavors are vanilla and mint chocolate chip, however, my all-time favorite way to enjoy ice cream is homemade, straight out of the churner.
I am now making new ice cream memories which is all about making ice cream at home, experimenting with new flavors, and always including herbs from the garden. Last year I was big into experimenting with homegrown lemongrass .... later this summer it is going to be pineapple sage. Today, it's mint, with the addition of matcha. It's as if mint chocolate chip, and green tea ice cream had a baby. Also, I came up with a technique to make dairy-free ice cream extra creamy, and even closer to it's non-dairy counter part. The trick is to make a custard using egg yolk (which is how traditional ice cream is made) .... so while it is not vegan, it is a really delicious way to make a creamy (cream-free) ice cream, and is now a new summer tradition in my home.
matcha mint chip ice cream (dairy-free)
about a pint of ice cream
2 / 13.5oz cans of full fat coconut milk
1 cup of fresh mint
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup of regular (or coconut palm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of matcha green tea
2oz of dark chocolate
1 teaspoons of sunflower or grapeseed oil
Steep the mint in the coconut milk:
- Place the coconut milk into a medium sized heavy bottomed pot, and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the mint leaves, cover, and allow to steep for 2 hours. When it's done steeping, strain the mixture into a separate bowl, clean out that pot and use it in the next step to make the custard.
Make the custard/ice cream base and refrigerate:
- Place the egg yolks, sugar, matcha, and salt into the pot (not over heat yet), and whisk until they are combined.
- Pour the coconut mixture over the eggs and sugar and whisk until combined. Place the pot over medium heat and cook while whisking frequently (for about 10-15minuites) until a custard forms (basically until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon).
- Transfer the mixture to a glass mixing bowl and place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours, or (ideally) overnight.
Churn the ice cream, and add the chocolate:
- Using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the ice cream maker's instructions. Typically you will churn for about 20-25 minutes continuously (that's what I do with my kitchen aid mixer).
- While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate either over a double broiler or in the microwave, and mix in the oil.
- When the ice cream is about half-way through churning (about 10 minutes), drizzle in the chocolate about a tablespoon at a time. The chocolate should break apart while churning and mix throughout the ice cream.
- When the ice cream is done churning, transfer to a container that you are going to store it in the freezer (preferably with a lid) or enjoy immediately from the ice cream maker (this is when the ice cream will be best!). Store any extra in the freezer, and enjoy at your leisure.