I have two varieties of mint that are absolutely overtaking our garden. Now, way back, the idea of growing my own mint really sounded good, even fun! These days, I am trying every thing I can think of to use this stuff in and keep it reasonably contained.
We're growing Lime Mint, and Chocolate Mint.
To date, I've done this:
|Chocolate mint||Lime mint|
|Hot cocoa |
Choc Mint syrup
|Tea (hot and iced) |
Lime mint syrup
Over the weekend, I went out armed with kitchen shears to tame the beasts, and ended up pulling about 2/3 of it out with my two gloved hands. I cut off all the roots and leggy stems, and carried about 2 enormous armloads into the kitchen. I filled both sides of the sink with cold water and separated the varieties. Take it from me, they don't mix well together when you taste them. At least, I don't like the result, so I am very careful to use them individually.
I had a good amount of the lime mint, which I soaked in cold water and got any loose dirt off, then santized it in my way cool sanitizer. Then I put ALL OF IT into a gallon pitcher and filled it with boiling water and let it steep for Mint Tea. When it was ready, I put some ice in a tall glass and squirted some of my lime mint syrup into it and poured on the tea. It was very refreshing!
Now for the chocolate mint beast. I had crammed the right side of the sink completely full of chocolate mint. After I took the lime mint out of the left side, I split the chocolate between the two, and still had two full sinks of the stuff.
My goal for the chocolate mint?
Mint cream frosting for brownies
For the gelato, I put about 6 cups of fat free half and half (ha! that always makes me laugh!) into a big pot and put it on to simmer. Then I put as much of the cleaned/sanitized chocolate mint in as I could get in there. Believe it or not, I got about an entire sinkful into that pot! I turned off the heat and let it sit there, with a pie plate and weight on it, so it could steep for about an hour.
Then I removed the mint and strained the half and half. I put it in my big strong blender with about 2 cups of sugar and about 2 tsp of vanilla and let 'er rip. Then I put in about half a bag of mini chocolate chips and blended again. They were instantly melted. I poured all of this into two large sealable plastic containers, added the rest of the mini chocolate chips and shook them like crazy and put them in the freezer. Since I don't have an ice cream machine, I do what I can to mix this and keep it kinda airy. Every so often, I took them out of the freezer and shook them like mad, and turned them upside down for a while. If you do this, please be sure your container's lid will provide a good enough seal! You don't want to try to clean up a sticky frozen mess later. After freezing overnight, I found it to be tasty, even if it's less creamy than ice cream. I usually use homemade gellato to make ice cream sandwiches, so there's a lot of other stuff to focus on rather than a slightly different mouth feel than ice cream. This batch was good.
For the chocolate mint brownies, I have to admit I had a box of brownie mix in the pantry to use up...see? It DOES qualify for 2nd Day Gourmet!
First though I steeped some more chocolate mint in about a cup of heavy cream that I heated to simmer. Just as above, I let it steep for about an hour. During that time, I made the brownies so they could cool a little bit. After removing the mint from the heated cream, I put some powdered sugar and vanilla in there and beat it to thicken. It never got quite to whipped cream stage, so I put in more sugar and made it more like a frosting, but still rather thin. I colored it green with some cake decorating icing coloring, and chilled it a bit to let it thicken up.
Then I spread it on the brownies, and put it in the fridge to set up while we ate dinner. Finally, I took the small squeeze pack of fudge frosting that came with the brownie mix and poured it over the mint cream, hoping to have 2 distinct layers, but there wasn't quite enough of the fudge, so I swirled it. Let me tell you, these things are delicious!
I wonder what I'll do next with this mint...