The ice cream project: mojito cream cheese ice cream
Here is my most outrageous creation to date. It looks innocent enough, but there's enough booze in a scoop of this one to stagger a Wisconsin frat boy. My mom had a few spoonfuls last evening and passed out on the couch. At 8:00 p.m.
To make a mojito you combine fresh mint, fresh lime juice, rum, sugar, ice, and some soda. I love mojitos, though I would feel ridiculous drinking one in the fall, winter, or spring. This ice cream tastes just like the cocktail and would be a clever thing to serve in place of drinks early in a summer evening, provided your guests are the sort who would seem agreeable to eating dessert before rather than after a meal.
Here is my method: I adapted my mango cream cheese ice cream recipe, which called for a cup of milk, half a cup of heavy cream, a brick of Philly, and 3/4 cups sugar. I steeped a few sprigs of mint in the milk by nuking it in the microwave and let it sit for about ten minutes while I assembled the rest of the materials.
I combined the sugar and the juice of half a lime (nuked for 40 seconds to get its fibers bursting) in the blender and added the milk (strained of its mint leaves) and cream. After whizzing this, I added 1/3 cup of Bacardi light rum and the cream cheese, softened to room temp. When it was completely pureed I tasted it. It was good but not explosive, so I added some (ok, lots) more rum, the juice of the other lime half, and a few leaves of the mint that had steeped. I pureed again. The mint was shredded into little itsy-bitsies. When I tasted the mixture this time it knocked my socks off.
I chilled and churned. Ah, the paddle.
As you see, the mixture was very thin. I let the machine go for a full hour and it didn't get solid. If I still had my old personality I would have cursed and raged, but somehow over the years I developed equanimity. I attributed the liquidity to the high alcohol content and, possibly, the fact that the mixture wasn't ice cold going into the churn. I reasoned that the ice cream might still be delicious even if it isn't churned full of air. As it happens it didn't matter as the ice cream was easily scoopable straight out of the freezer. Yet the texture might still be corrected to make it a bit smoother. There are ice crystals in this ice cream that make its mouthfeel less than ideal, though hardly unpleasant. It's not as silken as the mango cream cheese ice cream I made. Perhaps adding some or all of the rum after it's been churning for a while would be the fix.
Anyhow, the flavor compensates for any problem in texture 100 times over. The mojito trifecta of mint, lime, and rum is a true classic, a fantastically intense combination of tastes. It wouldn't surprise me to see this one in a Häagen-Dazs carton one of these days, but by then mojito will have ceased to be cool and we hipsters will be on to the next It flavor.
Now some notes for serious ice cream folks:
-Plastic containers don't do well in the freezer, I'm learning. They crack really easily. I've wrecked four or five in the past few weeks. I must find some paper pint containers. Let me know if you come across any.
-The Chowhound Home Cooking message board has some regular posters making all kinds of fantastic ice creams and discussing finer points of how to make them. Hi Chowhounds!
-Keeping time in the freezer seems highly variable. Some of my ice creams have kept really well for a week or more, and others were nasty after a few days. All I can say is hmmm.
-Given the choice of a cone or a dish, most of the people to whom I have served ice cream opted for the dish.
My other ice creams: