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It’s National “It’s My Favorite Month” Month!Summer has always been my favorite time of the year, particularly July—we get to celebrate the (official) birth of our country with friends, family, and barbeques on July 4th, and, I also get to celebrate my own birthday—today in fact. But now that I’ve found out it’s also National Ice Cream Month, I think it’s safe to say that July is officially my favorite month of the year.

So in honor of all this fabulousness, I’ve decided to share with you the recipe for one of my all-time favorite ice cream flavors, from one of my all-time favorite ice cream shops, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio. Owner Jeni Britton Bauer’s newly-released book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home ($24, Artisan Books), is chock-full of scrumptious and easy-to-make artisanal dessert recipes just like the creations she’s celebrated for in Columbus. Plus, all of her desserts are made with seasonal ingredients direct from local farmers (including organic milk from grass-fed cows).

Bauer’s recipes call for light corn syrup (a natural alternative to high-fructose corn syrup), but you can substitute it for tapioca syrup if you prefer; and while she recommends using nonhomogenized, grass-pastured dairy products, any organic ingredients will do. This recipe for her Backyard Mint flavor takes a little longer to prepare than other ice cream recipes, as you have to allow the fresh mint leaves to steep in the ice cream before freezing it. But the outcome is super-refreshing, perfect for those lazy days of summer, and one of the best mint ice creams I’ve ever had (and I’m kind of an expert). Enjoy!

Backyard Mint Ice Cream

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes, plus 4 hours to freeze

2 cups whole milk

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

1¼ cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

A large handful of fresh mint leaves (from your backyard or your local farmers’ market if possible!) roughly torn into small pieces

  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring the milk mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a heat-proof spatula, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the mint. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate to steep for 4 to 12 hours.
  4. Strain out the mint. Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and freeze as directed. When the mixture is thick and creamy, pack the ice cream into a storage container.
  5. Press a sheet of parchment paper directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze the mint ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

Makes about 1 quart, or 8 ½-cup servings

Per serving: Calories 264, fat 18 g, protein 3 g, carbohydrates 25 g, dietary fiber 0 g

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