Otherwise known as “savoring summer as long as possible, in spite of the magazine covers that are telling me to stock up on boots and sweaters.”
For the Fresh Mint Ice Cream:
(adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)
1 bunch fresh mint, preferably organic
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (optional)
Rinse the mint leaves and pat dry, then remove the stems. Tear the leaves and measure out 2 cups of leaves, lightly packed.
Bring the milk, sugar, salt, and 1 c. of cream to a bare simmer over medium heat. Add the mint leaves, remove from heat, cover, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Pour the remaining 1 c. cream into a medium bowl (or a quart-size measuring cup, which is how I roll) and set a mesh strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
Strain the mint leaves out of the milk/cream mixture, pressing on the leaves to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the mint and return the milk/cream to saucepan. Reheat over medium heat until just barely simmering. Whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly to keep the egg yolks from scrambling. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and return to heat, stirring and cooking until the mixture is thickened and begins to steam lightly. Pour the custard through the mesh strainer into the reserved 1 c. cream and stir to combine. Chill the custard mixture for several hours until very cold, and then process in an ice cream maker.
Optional: To make mint-chocolate-chip ice cream, as I did, melt 5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate over low heat (or in 20-second intervals in the microwave) until just barely melted, and then stir until smooth. When the ice cream is in the last few minutes of churning, slowly drizzle the melted chocolate directly into the ice cream maker. The chocolate will freeze on contact with the ice cream, and then break up into chips and flakes as the mixture continues to churn.
Transfer the semi-frozen ice cream to an airtight container, pressing a sheet of parchment paper directly onto the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for at least two hours until firm.
For the Chocolate Cookies:
(adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 stick (1/2 c., 4 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Cream the butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract (confession: I can’t remember the last time I actually measured my vanilla. I usually just add a hearty slug of it and continue on my way. Has anyone ever said “gosh, if only this had less vanilla in it?”) and beat for 2 more minutes. Sift the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder directly onto the wet ingredients, then beat on low speed until thoroughly combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about ten minutes, then roll out on either a lightly floured work surface or a sheet of parchment paper. Try to roll it out as thin as possible– my cookies are around 1/4″ inch thick, but they’re better for ice cream sandwiches at around 1/8″ inch. Cut out cookies and transfer to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, about 16 per sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until set. Cool on sheet for five minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.
Now, so, here’s where I’m gonna help you make sure that your sandwiches look a lot better than my first batch did: put a plate in the freezer, and once the cookies are completely cool, freeze them for an hour or so as well. I initially put just-churned ice cream on top of room-temperature cookies on a room-temperature plate, and when I peeked in the freezer an hour later I had some ice cream sandwiches sitting in a frozen lake of melted/re-frozen ice cream. It didn’t look so great. Make sure your cookies, plate, and ice cream are all completely frozen (although you may need to let your ice cream soften if it’s rock-hard) before placing scoops of ice cream on half the cookies and topping the scoops with the remaining cookies.
These taste great right away, clearly, but if you wait a day or two and leave the ice cream sandwiches well-wrapped in the freezer, the cookies will soften slightly and the whole thing will be less messy to eat. Enjoy!
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I’ve spent the last month and a half helping my friend, Agent Sidney Bristow, train for her honeymoon, during which she and her husband will climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s been great, because we’ve gotten to hang out a lot, and exercising is always more fun with a buddy, and I can tell I’ve gotten a lot stronger and my cardio endurance has really improved, but I gotta tell y’all, my legs are KILLING me tonight. Yowza. So I’m going to pair our ice cream sandwiches with a soft, snuggly PJ set from Eberjey and imagine that I am wearing said PJs collapsed in my bed nursing an ice cream sandwich, some ibuprofen, and a glass of water. Sweet dreams!