It's been a while since we've had Captain Greg stop by with one of his fabulous, and oh so decadent gelato concoctions. Who can forget his scandalously rich Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk? Or maybe it's the zingy Lemon Lime version that stuck with you? Personally I'll never forget the Ghirardelli Mocha Chip that sent me dreaming of Italy for days on end.
One of the kindest and most generous people I'm lucky enough to know, Captain Greg remains one of my favorite neighbors and gelato makers. For the last 18 years he's always the calm voice on the other end of the phone when I'm in a pinch, but more importantly - he delivers treats right to my door.
And today he's sharing with all of us a new and ever so special Mint Chip Gelato in this guest post. Join me as we explore this most recent flavor explosion.
Two years ago I decided to teach the children of close friends to cook Italian. As you would expect, when I left menu choices to the kids they came up with two “food groups”: pizza and gelato. 100% of the time.
“No pasta? No entrée’s with rich tomato sauce or cheeses?”
Nope. Pizza or gelato.
I know when to give in, and decided instead to build the challenge a different way.
I insist they choose the flavors and make it start-to-finish. No shortcuts. It lets me talk food chemistry, creativity, the importance of natural ingredients, and lets them experience the richness and fun of making their own creations. And it is fun!
Two great girls, Chloe and Sophie, showed up with a vision of “the greatest Mint Chip gelato ever”. So we brought together a garden of fresh mint, lots of eggs and most importantly, two packages of Andes Crème de Menthe Thins. You know, the ones you always grab 5 of when leaving a restaurant? They melt in your mouth with an explosion of mint, like the essence of a Girl Scout Cookie or a Grasshopper Martini (two very different delivery vehicles)!
I couldn’t think of a better, more refreshing frozen treat. And... we nailed it!
Start with my basic sugar and egg custard base, but prep it with a clutch of fresh mint sprigs steeped in the simmering milk ingredients. Cool it, add a couple drops of pure peppermint extract (guaranteed to clear your sinuses). An optional drop or two of green, throw it in your gelato or ice cream churn, and when it sets up swirl in the Andes Mint bits --- if you haven’t already eaten them. Good luck!
It’s a complete rush of freshness -- silky, laced in chocolate and taking mint to the level of fantasy. I don’t think the girls will ever ask for pizza again…
Capt. Greg’s Masterful Mint Chip Gelato
Brilliant with bright flavors, Captain Greg has done it again. With descriptions of "silky", "laced with chocolate" and "fantasy", this treat brings dessert to a whole new level.
4 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy whipping cream
8 large egg yolks
2 cups sugar
20 - 25 Sprigs fresh mint
¼ teaspoon pure peppermint extract
50 - 60 Andes Crème de Menthe Thins
4 - 5 drops green food coloring, optional
Makes 2 Quarts
Cool and harden the Andes Crème de Menthe Thins for at least 1 hour in the freezer. Remove and cut each mint into quarters or smaller. Return the chips to the freezer.
Separate the egg yolks and lightly beat them with a wooden spoon. Combine yolks with the sugar, stirring until the mixture is creamy, pale yellow and very thick. Transfer into a large saucepan (3 Quarts).
In a separate saucepan, combine the milk, cream and fresh mint sprigs. Warm the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until steaming. Cover the pan and remove it from the heat. Allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the mint solids.
Whisk the milk, cream and mint into the yolk and sugar mixture. Hint: Start with just 2 cups of the milk whisked vigorously into the yolk mixture so the eggs don’t cook solid. Then whisk in the remaining milk and cream, adding it slowly. Cook over a low heat stirring constantly until thick enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Strain the mixture into a large bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Stir in the peppermint.
Optional: Tradition has taken mint chip from its natural color to a light green. You can do so by adding 4 - 5 drops of green food coloring. Stir thoroughly. Cool completely in the refrigerator (at least two hours), then process in an ice cream maker. As the mixer begins to slow (and gelato is almost entirely set) add the Andes Mint chips to the nearly-frozen gelato. Resume mixing until the machine is done. Turn the gelato into medium containers with lids. Cover and freeze at least 24 hours.