My dear family friend Grace is getting married this weekend! In her honour, Week #12 will be her favourite ice cream flavour: chocolate chip mint. But wait! There’s a healthy twist: sub out the chocolate chips, sub in cacao nibs.
Cacao nibs are made by roasting, hulling, and gently crushing cacao beans. They are, essentially, the natural source of all chocolate products. Cacao nibs have a strong, dark, bitter chocolate flavour, delightfully crunchy texture, and are one of the hottest superfoods on the market. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals including beta carotene, zinc, and a whack load of magnesium. They also contain more antioxidants than blueberries, red wine, and green tea.
Grace introduced me to cacao nibs earlier this month and I have to say I’m hooked. How can something that is so good for you taste SO AMAZING? I’m sprinkling cacao nibs over oatmeal, cereal, and yogurt, whirling them up in smoothies, and eating them by the handful. And now, cacao nibs are working their way into my ice cream recipes.
The cacao nibs add an amazing crunch to the ice cream, and the mint ice cream itself has just enough sweetness that you don’t need to use a sweetened (and processed!) chocolate chip. Enjoy, and eat often!
Cacao Nibs and Mint Ice Cream (Makes about 1 L)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 cups half-and-half cream
1.25 to 1.5 teaspoon peppermint extract
6 to 7 drops green food colouring (optional)
3/4 cup raw unsweetened cacao nibs (or substitute with high quality miniature chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate)
- In a heavy saucepan, lightly whisk together the eggs and sugar.
- Add the sea salt, and two cups of the half-and-half.
- Cook the mixture over medium-low heat stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (170 degrees F / 77 degrees C).
- Remove from heat immediately and add the remaining half-and-half cream to stop the cooking. Stir in the peppermint extract and the colouring. Place the saucepan into an ice bath to cool the custard rapidly.
- Chill overnight in the fridge.
- Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and prepare according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- In the final moments of churning, add the cacao nibs and churn to distribute evenly in the ice cream.