A simple syrup infused with the flavor of fresh mint sweetens this strawberry ice cream. Macerate the strawberries in the syrup before adding them to the ice cream to prevent the berries from freezing too hard. Refrigerate the mix just long enough to chill it thoroughly, or you can make it up to a day before you plan to freeze it.
2 cups half-and-half
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup water
1 (1-ounce) package fresh mint
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
How to Make It
Combine half-and-half and milk in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and egg yolks; beat with a mixer at high speed until thick and pale. Gradually add half of hot milk mixture to yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 2 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl. Cool milk mixture completely, stirring occasionally.
Combine remaining 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at high 2 1/2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Add mint to hot syrup; steep for 5 minutes. Remove mint; discard. Pour syrup over berries; let stand for 20 minutes. Add berries and syrup to milk mixture; stir well. Cover and chill, stirring occasionally.
Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon the ice cream into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.
We made this with quality store-bought strawberries & fresh mint, but the strawberries were nonetheless kind of meh. It was very good & the mint really came through, but next time, we will try it with really sweet, peak farmer's market berries & see if the strawberry flavor comes through more. (Obtaining peak berries takes some effort & this was a last-minute choice, so we did the best we could considering.) The other change we would make is to smash the berries. Macerating them wasn't enough & we still had some larger frozen berry chunks, so we will try smashing them next time. Still, despite the less than fabulous berries, it was a wonderful treat.
This recipe is the best. I have followed it directly and I have also made a lactose free version and vegan version, by simple substituting coconut milk for the half & half and soymilk for the low fat milk and leaving out the eggs for the vegan version. Every time it comes out perfect with nothing but rave reviews. This is great because I have several friends who are lactose intolerant and lots of friends who are vegans.
I have made this exactly as written and LOVED it. I have been waiting for my local strawberry farm to set up their stand to make it again (they just set up shop this week) and will be using my mint from my garden and fresh from the farm strawberries. I can't wait and will make a double batch to have on hand when the minty sweetness of this ice cream calls my name! And I have started adding mint to my strawberry shortcakes since making this the first time.
I can't eat strawberries and they aren't in season right now anyway, so I did this with 1 3/4 c finely chopped apple and 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce. I added 2 TBS of apple liquer and reduced the simple syrup sugar by 2 TBS to keep the apples from freezing. I also used rosemary instead of mint. It is very good, though I would like a more pronounced flavor from the herb so next time I will finely chop some of the herb with the sugar that gets added to the egg in addition to infusing the simple syrup. I can see lots of different fuit and herb combination possibilities.