When I was a little girl, my family lived in Norfolk, Virginia for a while. About once a week we would walk to an ice cream shop near our house. I remember that there were two kinds of ice cream that I would get, butter brickle and peppermint candy, alternating at each visit–one week a scoop of butter brickle, the next week a scoop of peppermint candy. After we left Virginia I went without peppermint candy ice cream for many years simply because no one else made it. Finally, however, grocery stores began selling it, but only for a couple of months out of the year. A few years ago, for whatever quirk of consumer fate, only one store in my area sold peppermint candy ice cream and it tasted as though it had been left over from the previous year. Gag.
I am really slow on the uptake, I guess, because I didn’t consider that I could make peppermint candy ice cream at home. Clearly, sometimes I do not use my brain to its best advantage. I think I need one of those evangelic preachers that go around smacking people on the forehead and yelling, “BE HEALED!”
Luckily, I got myself some healing where ice cream is concerned and now have a recipe for a delicious peppermint candy ice cream that I can make right here in the comfort of my own home. No longer am I dependent on the arbitrary whims of manufacturers and grocers. I am the captain of my…er…ice cream. At least I’m the captain of something.
This recipe is custard based, which means that it has eggs and it is cooked. Peppermint extract is added for flavor and red food coloring is added to give the ice cream a pink color. Crushed peppermint candies add just the right amount of candy crunch and a little extra flavor.
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 2-4 drops red food coloring (optional)
- 1 cup crushed peppermint candies (I used a 6 ounce box of peppermint candy canes–there were 12 candy canes in the box)
To crush the peppermint candies: Place the candy in a sturdy food grade plastic bag. Break the candy by firmly tapping it with a rolling pin. The candy breaks fairly easily, so don’t hit it too hard or else the candy will be powdered instead of in smallish chunks.
- In a heavy saucepan, heat the cream, milk, sugar, and salt stirring just until steam starts to rise. Do not boil.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring about 2 cups of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly.
- Pour the tempered egg yolk/cream mixture back into the saucepan while stirring.
- Over medium heat, continue to stir the mixture until it is thickened and coats the back of a metal spoon. Slide your finger across the back of the coated spoon. If a definitive line remains, then the custard is done. If not, continue to cook and stir the mixture, testing periodically with the spoon until the custard has developed.
- Stir in the red food coloring, if desired.
- Place the pot with the custard into an ice bath and stir until the mixture has cooled. (I set the pot in a large bowl about a quarter filled with ice. Use whatever you have available, even the kitchen sink with some ice in will do the trick.)
- After the custard has cooled, stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts. Cover and put in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight until completely chilled.
- Process according to manufacturers instructions in an ice cream freezer. Remove dasher from ice cream and while the ice cream is still soft, stir in the peppermint candies. Cover the ice cream and place in freezer for several hours or over night until firm (this is called ripening the ice cream).
Note: Sometimes the candy pieces have a tendency to settle to the bottom of the ice cream. Part way through the ripening process, when the ice cream is more firm, stir the ice cream to redistribute the candy pieces.