Mint Julep Ice Cream

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Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord of Vanilla Garlic as we gear up for Derby Day with mint julep ice cream. Garrett and I made this the other day and my dad is still getting all misty eyed thinking about how good it was. ~Elise

I have a great love of bourbon, which, I think, grew out of my love for Kentucky where my family and I spent many summers visiting my godmother. I was too young to drink bourbon then, but a tall glass of dark sweet tea with handfuls of mint muddled at the bottom was always at hand. It was a refreshing way to stave off smothering humidity and it made the fun times more enjoyable.

Mint juleps – a drink relying of mint, sugar, water, and good ‘ol Kentucky bourbon – have that same sweet-n-minty cooling quality. They take me back to those shady, easygoing vacations. It’s a cocktail that seems to roll the sweetness of breezy Bluegrass country and the excitement of the Kentucky Derby all into one.

At a recent dinner I was unexpectedly tossed down Memory Lane when I tasted this mint julep ice cream. The chill-inducing mint and slightly spicy bourbon took me right back to those summer nights sitting on the river docks with my family. This recipe comes from the dessert-crafter extraordinaire Elaine Baker, the pastry chef at Grange Restaurant, who I’m sure must have cherished Southern memories of her own to develop an ice cream this good.

Mint Julep Ice Cream

Mint Julep Ice Cream Recipe

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  • Yield: Makes about 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of mint leaves (spearmint)
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

1 Bruise the leaves with a wooden spoon so they'll release their essential oils and flavors. Place them in a saucepan with the milk and 3/4 cup of the cream. Bring just to a simmer, then remove from heat and cover to steep for 30 minutes.

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2 Fill a large bowl with ice water and set another bowl with the remaining cream in it with a fine mesh sieve over the cream. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg yolks.

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3 Pour the steeped cream mixture through a strainer and toss the mint leaves. Return the milk/cream mixture to the saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Set over medium heat and heat until steaming (not boiling).

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4 Slowly pour some of the heated milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the heated milk, but not cooked by it. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.

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5 Stir the mixture over medium heat with a wooden spoon, constantly scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir. When the mixture thickens up and coats the back of the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take between 3 and 10 minutes depending on the heat of your burner.

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6 Pour the mixture through the sieve into the chilled bowl of cream. Mix in the bourbon and vanilla. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the mixture is chilled, 6 hours to overnight. Process in an ice cream machine per the manufacturer's instructions.

7 Store ice cream in an airtight contained in the freezer for several hours before serving to harden the mixture up a bit. The ice cream will be quite soft straight out of the ice cream machine and will need to harden up a bit for proper ice cream consistency. If you leave it in the freezer too long, just let it sit a few minutes before serving.

*Note: You cannot substitute anything for the bourbon in this recipe. Otherwise, it's not a mint julep. That said, you can make a simple mint ice cream, if you don't want to use alcohol. Check out the mint chocolate chip recipe on the site.

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Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a food writer, writing instructor, culinary consultant, freelance food photographer, and recipe developer who shares his enthusiasm for food and the written word through his blog Vanilla Garlic. Garrett's cookbook, co-authored with Stephanie Stiavetti, is Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese

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Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • MistyL

    I’m not sure if my mint was supercharged or what, but 2 oz was way too much mint! Completely overpowered the very subtle flavor of the bourbon. We still ate it, and it was good after the first few bites, but it was literally like eating mint gum flavored ice cream.

    I would recommend using a double-boiler approach to heating the cream and egg mixture, bowl resting on a pot of hot water, after tempering, as every time I’ve tried this one pot method, I end up with curdled eggs on the bottom of the pot no matter how quick I turn it off or how frequently I stir it.

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    So fabulous! I’m passing this along to my friends who are hosting a derby party!

  • Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat)

    I commented on this post last June about making it for my husband for his birthday and borrowed a friend’s ice-cream maker to do it. I had to follow up to say that it was a HUGE hit. My goodness this is a delicious ice-cream!

    In fact it inspired me to get my own ice-cream maker and start making ice-cream regularly. I even developed a licorice ice-cream recipe based on this for my own blog.

    http://foodieformerlyfat.com/2011/01/24/licorice-ice-cream/

    Thank you for the recipe and the inspiration!

  • Lee

    Hey, anyone know how much ice cream this makes?

    About a quart and a half. ~Garrett

  • Elizabeth E.

    My husband’s birthday is coming up soon and he LOVES ice cream and bourbon, so this is a fantastic combo for him. I’m planning to make this tomorrow as a surprise for him!

    I’m wondering: How strongly does the bourbon taste comes through? I’d like it to be pretty strong. Would it be possible to increase the bourbon amount without messing with the ratios of the other ingredients? If so, how much of an increase could this recipe handle?

    The most bourbon you can put in this recipe straight up is 1/4 cup, and even then with that amount you might have difficulty getting the ice cream to freeze. If you want a more pronounced bourbon flavor, I might try boiling down some bourbon to concentrate the flavor, while at the same time boiling off some of the alcohol, and then adding that to the ice cream mixture. Either that or serve the ice cream with a bourbon sauce. There’s a good one on our bread pudding recipe. ~Elise

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