If I'm honest, I've been avoiding chocolate-based ice creams. My first few attempts, months and months ago, when I was first just getting my ice cream legs, were sort of disastrous. I was adding the chocolate too quickly, and ended up with a separated mess. This time, I melted the chocolate over a water bath, and then slowly, slowly, slowly added the custard base, whisking all the while. It worked. The result was a thick, creamy, velvety ice cream base. By using good everything, and fresh mint, I think I've produced an ice cream with a great texture and clean flavors. —Cristina Sciarra
In a medium pot, combine the milk, the cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the salt. Heat the liquid over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it froths up in the pot. Turn off the heat.
In a separate small bowl, collect the egg yolks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and whisk for about 2 minutes, or until the yolks look a lighter yellow.
Take a tiny measure of the milk mixture, and whisk it into the egg yolks. Keep adding the milk, little by little, whisking without pause as you go. When you’re finished, run the custard base through a sieve, add then add it back to the pot.
Turn the heat again to medium-low. Stir the custard almost constantly as it heats. You want it to coat the back of your spoon; after that, it’s done. Turn off the heat.
Add the mint to the pot, and put the lid on. Let it steep for 20-25 minutes, or until the base tastes quite minty. Run the base through a sieve again, to remove the mint leaves.
Meanwhile, heat the chocolate over a water bath until just melted. When the base has been mintified and is ready to go, turn off the heat under the water bath. (The water will provide enough residual heat.)
This part is strenuous, but important, and worth it: Add the custard base slowly, so so slowly, to the melted chocolate. Whisk enthusiastically as you go. It's nice to have a partner for this part of the process--one to control the pour, and one to whisk. You're done when all the custard has been integrated into the chocolate. The base should be soft and velvety, and taste evenly of mint and chocolate.
Move the custard to an ice bath. If you give it the occasional stir, it should be good and cold in about 45 minutes-1 hour. (You can also chill overnight in the fridge, which is even better.)
Pour the cold custard into an ice cream maker. Let it go for about 20-25 minutes, or until the ice cream reaches the consistency of soft-serve. (Don't let it go too long, or you will start to make butter.)
Spoon the ice cream into a plastic container, leaving as little air between the ice cream and the lid as possible, and move it to the freezer for at least 2-4 hours. Take the ice cream out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.