08 January 2014

Happy Birthday Ryan

For those of you who enjoy the flavor of mint chocolate chip ice cream.....I'm going to share my recipe for birthday cake for Ryan (which he has requested every year since 2007 or 2008) - After Eight ice cream cake. Why "After Eight" you may ask? Well, when we went to Barcelona in summer, 2006, that was the equivalent flavor to mint chocolate chip.....it was EVERYWHERE, and if you don't already know, in European cities ice cream itself is EVERYWHERE, so there was no escaping partaking of it many, many times. So now After Eight is the favorite ice cream around here, and since it doesn't exist anywhere around the bay area, I had to make my own. So here goes:

First you must purchase the requisite After Eights (for the outside layers). However, to make the ice cream itself, it's much better to use the After Eight candy bar (impossible to find), the Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate with Mint bar (next to impossible to find), or the Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate with Mint squares (they're everywhere).
Make the ice cream. One recipe in your ice cream maker should be perfect if you've got a 1 quart maker.

5 cups half and half
1 ¼ vanilla bean pod, split and seeds scraped
pinch salt
1 ¼ cups sugar
10 whole egg yolks
¾ cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup (or however much you want) coarsely chopped After Eight or Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Bar or Squares (these actually work better in the ice cream than After Eights)
45 Individual After Eight candies (2 boxes - if your pan is any larger than 8x8 you'll need 3 boxes)
(See next page for Cookie Crust recipe and ingredient list)

Place chopped up After Eight bar in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Combine the half and half, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds and salt in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, then immediately remove the saucepan from the heat.

In a large bowl add the sugar and egg yolks and whisk to combine.  Add the half and half mixture, about ¼ cup at a time, to the beaten eggs and sugar, whisking after each addition. 

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and add the mint leaves.  Cook over medium-low heat until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 6 minutes.  Do this SLOWLY or the egg will start to cook into chunks. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl.  Transfer the bowl to an ice bath and stir frequently until custard is completely cool.  Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for churning time.

After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chopped After Eight bar, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

Line a square 8x8 pan with After Eights

Add ice cream, leaving about 1/2" for cookie crust bottom. Add plastic wrap so that it touches the ice cream, and place in freezer for at least 30 minutes.  

For cookie crust bottom:
(I need to experiment with halving this recipe....the cookie crust could be less thick)
1 9-oz. pkg. chocolate wafer cookies
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Finely grind cookies, chips and sugar in processor. Add melted butter; blend until wet crumbs form.

Remove pan from freezer and fill pan the rest of the way with cook crust crumb mixture and freeze again until ready to serve.

After freezing again until ready to serve, you'll need to unmold by dipping the bowl into very hot water for about 7 seconds. Turn it over onto a large platter, and unmold!

If I were serving this to guests outside the immediately family, I would have removed a few of the candy pieces around the top and replaced them with new ones.....which would have aptly covered up the melty look. Fortunately, this wasn't necessary for us......we gobble it up just the way it was.

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