With the holidays approaching, we thought that we’d give you a little head start on one of our favorite Christmas treats: Peppermint Stick Ice Cream. There’s just something nice and refreshing about the clean mint flavor and those crunchy bits of candy canes embedded in the cool, creamy, frozen custard that says winter. Now, sad to say, we have no recipe for peppermint stick ice cream, but do you think that’ll stop us?
Of course not. Here at Scratchin’ Central, we just put our shoulder to the wheel and figure out what to do. And, we figured that we’d change the vanilla ice cream recipe, using peppermint extract in place of vanilla, and fold in about 1/2 cup of crushed candy canes right at the end. If that doesn’t sound quite right to you, well, you can make your own recipe.
As with everything scratched, use the best you can find. That means pure peppermint extract, and, for us, it meant organic half-and-half and heavy cream (neither has additives). Our eggs are free-range — they really do taste better. We’d consider making the candy canes ourselves, but we have no idea how to keep them white.
Procedure in detail:
Heat half-and-half. Place the half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat. Since it’ll take a while to heat up until it’s steaming (170°F), use this time to separate the four eggs. Just make sure to give it a stir from time to time. Looking for a use for the leftover whites? Consider fresh made pasta, a white cake, or almond macaroons. We’re going with pasta. Once the half-and-half is steaming, remove from heat.
Whisk yolks and sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar. It’ll be quite thick, but make sure to get all the sugar incorporated.
Temper yolks. This is the tricky part. You need to add the hot half-and-half to the yolk mixture without cooking the yolks; the only way to do that is by adding just a small amount at a time, while whisking like mad. When we do this, one whisks, while the other spoons in hot half-and-half. Once you have a few spoonfuls of the hot liquid mixed into the yolks, you can add the half-and-half at a faster rate, but keep whisking like mad. No curdling? Great! Otherwise, run it through a sieve in a bit. We’ll let you know when.
Heat custard. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and place it back over medium heat. Bring to 170°F (when small bubbles form around the edges and the liquid thickens), while whisking continuously. Once thickened, pour into a large bowl or something with a spout (now’s the time to strain, if needed — and, if you can, it never hurts).
Add cream and flavoring. Whisk in the heavy cream, salt, and peppermint extract. If you taste it (you should), it will be nice and minty.
Chill. Cover with plastic warp and chill at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. This chilling helps the ice cream freeze up faster, so even if you’re the impatient type, try to stick it out.
Crush. We just took a rolling pin to the candy canes while they were still in packets, then snipped open the packets and dumped out the candy. We did have a few packets burst while crushing, so you could always place the packets into another plastic bag before crushing. Sort of double-bagging.
Churn. Set up your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Pour in the custard and churn until frozen. With our KitchenAid attachment, it took about 8 minutes of churning. Once churned, feel free to give the ice cream a taste. Chef’s prerogative.
Fold in candy. Pour the crushed candy over the top and use a wide spatula to fold it in. Just like that, you have peppermint stick ice cream.
Pack and freeze. You can eat the ice cream right after churning — it’ll be like soft serve — or pack it in an airtight container and place in the freezer to firm.
The amount of peppermint extract in the custard is perfect. It makes for a minty ice cream with little bits of super-minty candies mixed in. Which is just what we were going for in terms of flavor. We didn’t want the ice cream as minty as the candy (or worse, ice cream with even more mint flavor), so we were quite happy with the flavor profile. Of course, being scratched from great ingredients, this ice cream is far and away better than any commercial brand, and, honestly (if not modestly), it’s better than most places that make their own ice cream. An easy five minty-fresh stars.