Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ever want your own mint?

Everybody dreams of having a mint of their own, don't they? I'm not sure this is what they have in mind...

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

Chocolate sauce

Tea (hot and iced)

Lime mint syrup

Watermelon sorbet

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?
Chocolate gelato
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...

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