This chocolate mint ice cream is infused with fresh mint, and is an egg-free, extra-creamy summer treat. Inspired by Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream!
For years, a weekend trip to Columbus, Ohio was a pretty regular treat.
Columbus was three hours away, but it was also one of the closest "big cities."
Columbus has the Easton Town Center, packed with my favorite shopping places-- Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Anthropologie, REI, and H&M.
Columbus has the Franklin Park Observatory (for orchid lovers), COSI (for science-loving kids of all ages), North Market (FOOD!), and German Village (more food!).
And of course-- Columbus has Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream.
More recently, my weekend getaways are typically in a different direction towards the (now much closer) Lexington, Kentucky-- and I miss Jeni's.
Jeni's ice cream isn't just known in the Columbus area-- it's become downright famous.
Or at least-- famous among people who talk a lot about ice cream.
And happily-- her ice cream base recipe is available online.
So, when I was craving chocolate ice cream, and simultaneously staring at my overflowing mint plants, inspiration struck.
Chocolate mint ice cream inspiration.
This chocolate mint ice cream is infused with fresh mint, and uses Jeni's ice cream base as a starting point.
Does Ice Cream Need Eggs?
Jeni's ice cream is famously rich, creamy, and egg-free.
Typically, ice cream is made with egg yolks.
Lots and lots of egg yolks.
It's what makes the ice cream soft and creamy by preventing ice crystals from forming inside the ice cream, meaning it stays rich and creamy even after days-- weeks-- MONTHS-- in the freezer.
Eggs also bind the ice cream together, making it smooth and scoopable.
So-- why would you skip the eggs?
For one thing-- the eggs change the flavor of the ice cream. If you're using delicate flavors in your ice cream, you might want to skip the eggs.
And of course, some people avoid eggs for health reasons.
But-- the good news is-- thanks to Jeni's ice cream base recipe (and my slightly modified version), you can make delicious, scoopable, creamy, ice-crystal-free ice cream-- without a single egg.
Jeni's Egg-Free Ice Cream Base
In place of eggs, Jeni's recipe uses cornstarch to thicken, cream cheese for creamy scoopableness, and invert sugar (similar to corn syrup) to prevent ice crystals from forming.
In this recipe, I swapped the complicated invert sugar, as well as the corn syrup (which I refuse to use), for honey.
If that sounds like a lot of ingredients to replace eggs-- I kind of agree. Except that the flavor is SO PHENOMENAL.
It's totally worth it, because it will make this chocolate mint ice cream into the creamy, rich dessert that it deserves to be.
And I'll walk you through each step.
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream, Step 1: Thicken Milk with Cornstarch
Start by mixing cornstarch with cold milk.
The milk has to be cold-- cornstarch won't bind well with hot liquids.
Set it aside.
Step 2: Thicken Milk with Cream Cheese
In a separate bowl, add more milk to a little bit of cream cheese. Heat it up slightly (I use the microwave), and then whisk until it's creamy.
Set it aside.
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream, Step 3: Make the Ice Cream Base
Next-- make the ice cream base.
Heat (more) milk, cream, sugar, cocoa powder, and honey.
To add the cornstarch mixture into the hot ice cream base, start by pouring a little of the hot mixture into the cornstarch mixture. Whisk it up.
Then, pour the cornstarch mixture back into the hot ice cream base, whisking constantly.
The goal is to keep the cornstarch incorporated so that you don't get lumps.
Bring the ice cream base to a boil, and take it off the heat.
Next, whisk the cream cheese and milk mixture into the ice cream base.
Step 4: Infuse the Mint
Add a big handful of mint leaves-- still attached to the stems-- into the chocolate mixture.
Leaving the mint on the stems makes it easier to remove from the ice cream base later.
If you want to tie the stems together with twine, that will make it even easier to pull out later.
Step 5: Cool the Ice Cream Base + Remove the Mint
Cool the ice cream base for at least 4 hours in the fridge.
Once it's cool, you need to remove the mint. I simply used a slotted spoon to strain it out.
If you added loose mint leaves, already removed from the stem-- you can strain the mint out using a small mesh tea strainer as a spoon to scoop the mint.
Alternatively, you can strain the entire mixture through a colander or mesh sieve-- but that's a little messier and more complicated.
Chocolate mint ice cream, Step 6: Pour it in the blender
This step is optional.
I like to whip my ice cream bases in a blender before adding them to my ice cream maker, because it helps add air bubbles to the ice cream base, and makes the finished product lighter and more airy.
Step 7: Pour the chocolate mint ice cream into the ice cream maker
Yes, you do need an ice cream maker for this recipe.
I use (and love) a Cuisinart ice cream maker with a freezer bowl. Mine was a gift-- and it's one of my most-used kitchen appliances.
Freezer bowl ice cream makers include a bowl that needs to be completely frozen (usually for at least a day) before you begin churning your ice cream.
My ice cream freezer bowl basically lives in my freezer all summer-- it only emerges long enough to churn ice cream, be cleaned, and be placed back on its shelf in the freezer.
If you simply cannot wait on a freezer bowl to freeze, or have zero room in your freezer-- you can also buy compressor-style ice cream machines that will (quite dangerously) let you have ice cream on demand at a moment's notice.
Step 8: Freeze the Ice Cream
Your ice cream maker will do a really good job making the ice cream cold, creamy, and delicious.
But it will come out a little too soft-- like soft serve ice cream that's started to melt.
Pour the mint chocolate ice cream into a (preferably shallow) container, and let it harden for a few more hours.
When it feels firm to the touch, scoop it out, take a bite, and giggle with chocolate-induced happiness.
Hungry for MORE CHOCOLATE? Try this salted bourbon chocolate pie!
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream
- 2 ¼ cups whole milk, divided
- 5 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- ¼ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh mint, still on stem (~5 sprigs)
- Before beginning, make sure your ice cream maker freezer bowl is frozen (if needed).
Mix Milk with Thickeners:
- Mix Milk + Cornstarch: Mix ¼ cup of the milk and all the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk until the cornstarch is fully dissolved. Set aside.
- Mix Milk + Cream Cheese: Warm cream cheese and another ¼ cup of milk for 20 seconds in the microwave. Whisk together until smooth. Whisk in the salt. Set aside.
Make the Ice Cream Base:
- Place the remaining 1 ¾ cups milk, cream, cocoa powder, sugar, and honey in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Whisk about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the cornstarch mixture. Slowly pour the cornstarch and milk mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly. Return to medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until it comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
- Whisk in the cream cheese mixture. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Stir the mint into the chocolate mixture, leaving it attached to the stem so that it's easy to remove later.
Chill the Ice Cream Base:
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature, and then chill the ice cream base for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
Make the Ice Cream:
- When you're ready to churn the ice cream, use a slotted spoon to remove the mint. Run two fingers down either side of the mint to strain as much of the ice cream base as possible back into the pot.
- Optional: Pour chilled mixture into a blender, and blend on high for about 30 seconds. This will help add air bubbles into your ice cream, and make it lighter. Skip if you don’t have a blender, or if you’re using a high-end ice cream machine that adds air while churning.
- Pour mixture into ice cream maker, and churn according to your machines directions.
- Scrape the ice cream into a container, and lay wax paper directly on top of the ice cream (to keep ice crystals from forming on top). Seal with a lid (or plastic wrap or foil) and freeze for 2-3 hours or until hardened.Tip: Ice cream will harden more quickly in a shallow container.
- Keep frozen, and use within 2 months. Keep the container sealed and the wax paper directly on top of the ice cream.