Fresh Mint and Spring Peas Ice Cream (#14)

13 06 2012

Earlier this week, my co-worker Andrew brought me a bunch of fresh mint from his community garden in East Vancouver.

garden fresh mint

Garden fresh mint

Seeing that I had already used mint (albeit in extract form) in a classic ice cream recipe just a couple of weeks ago (Cacao Nibs and Mint Ice Cream #12), an unusual ice cream recipe was once again in order.  Mint and peas can be whirled into a wonderful soup… so, why not in ice cream?

You can buy fresh mint at most produce and grocery stores, but use garden fresh mint for this recipe if you can.  Inhale deeply and it smells so amazingly cooling.  Mint also grows like a weed.  If you don’t already have some in your backyard, chances are, your neighbour does and will gladly invite you over to harvest a bunch.  Fresh shelling peas tend to be a bit harder to come by, unless you hit up your local farmers market at the right time.  If you can’t find any, frozen peas will do just fine.  Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak of ripeness and then immediately flash frozen — they can be more delicious and nutritious than “fresh” veggies that have been sitting around for weeks.


Fresh peas at the Saturday Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon. Sadly, I wasn’t able to bring any back with me to Vancouver.  A trusty bag of Green Giant peas worked just fine for this recipe.

The resultant ice cream is a gorgeous bright green colour that screams Hello, Spring!  Still raising an eyebrow at this flavour?  Don’t.  I assure you it’s a wonderful combination on the palette.  Subtle flavours, refreshing, and with an ever so slightly grainy texture, somewhat reminiscent of Matcha Ice Cream #7.  Try it out for yourself!

Fresh Mint and Spring Peas Ice Cream  (Makes about 1.25 L)

3 cups of peas (enough to yield 2 cups of puree)
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 eggs
1/2  cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 cups half-and-half cream, divided

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Cacao Nibs and Mint Ice Cream (#12)

31 05 2012

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.

cocoa nibs

Cocoa nibs – crunchy little nuggets of chocolatey goodness packed with antioxidants!

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)

2 eggs
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)

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