When it comes to alcohol, I appreciate many of the fine beverages out there, but I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if I had to pick one, I’m a whiskey man. For me, the tough decisions are single malt scotch or a good bourbon. Well when I originally made this dessert, the choice was simple: bourbon! I live in horse country, and while I truly couldn’t care less about horse racing, the charm of the mint julep had won me over. So today, something to help the bourbon lovers out there keep cool: Mint Julep Gelato!
For the uninitiated, a julep is a pretty simple drink but people can get pretty wound up about the particulars that go into making it. At the core, you’re supposed to have bourbon, fresh mint leaves, sugar, and water, where the mint is oh so carefully muddled just right to allow the mint oils to infuse into the drink without turning it into a bruised, messy mush. When I prepare a julep for myself, it definitely doesn’t quite fit the mold of an authentic julep (I tend to skip the water and go light on or skip the sugar ), but there’s something magical about that bourbon and mint combination.
Given how much I enjoyed my previous bourbon-based ice cream, it seems high time for another. This gelato, unlike my sipping juleps, is a bit more julep like (Hey! Sugar!). The preparation is very much the same as a mint ice cream, but given the high alcohol content (recall: alcohol won’t freeze in your freezer), the texture is denser and more gelato like. The resulting gelato was delicious–very strongly flavored with sweetness, mint, and the dark, smokey bourbon profile. This is all lightly tinged with the green and amber hues of both fresh mint and bourbon.
Over-thought plating gone awry. Like a root beer float…but a julep float…that looks like a weird napkin stuffed in a shot glass…lol, woops!
The base mint ice cream was derived from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. This is also one of my entries in You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Frozen Desserts, an event focused on the cold desserts that we all flock to during the summer. While the deadline is near, its still not too late to join in the fun, so any slow pokes out there, hurry up and get churning!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- pinch salt
- 2 cups mint leaves
- 5 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup bourbon
Begin by warming the milk, sugar, and 1 cup of cream in a saucepan. Add all of the mint leaves and lightly crush them so as to help their oils to diffuse into the liquid. Press them in so that they stay submerged, cover the pan, and remove from the heat so that this mixture can steep for about an hour.
Once time is up, as soon as you take the lid off of that saucepan, you should be hit with this fantastic, sweet, minty aroma. I was amazed at the powerful flavor this took on, even at this step. Just sample the liquid to see what I mean. Anyways, once you’re done fawning over this, strain the mixture to remove the mint leaves (and squeeze them to get every last drop out of them) and get the liquid back in a saucepan.
Set a bowl up in an ice bath, pour in the remaining 1 cup of cream, and set a strainer over it. Meanwhile, rewarm the minty milk and in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until the color lightens.
Temper the eggs with a bit of the hot milk and then pour the yolk mixture into the hot, mint-infused milk. Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, figure around 5-10 minutes. Once sufficiently cooked, pour this through the strainer into the cream, and whisk it well. After a moment, pour in the bourbon (any earlier, and you’d cook off the alcohol and where’s the fun in that?!). Whisk to incorporate and cover the bowl with plastic wrap pressed right against the surface and transfer this to the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Once time is up, get your ice cream maker ready according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Churn the custard for about 20 minutes and then transfer it to an airtight container in the freezer overnight to give the gelato time to firm up a bit (it will need it!).
When you finally do dig in, consider not plating in a way that looks as silly as this, lol (and you have no idea…the mess that ensued…). But more importantly, enjoy!