In my family, Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) and post-Christmas day were important. Because of sales. Because of candy sales. Specifically candy canes. Every single type. The rainbow colored ones. The green ones. The purple ones. And…of course the classic red and white candy canes. (And then there are those who get too many candy canes and holiday cookies over the season…)
Granted, this ice cream is slightly out of season. At first, I thought that I should just call it peppermint ice cream. But let’s fess up, shall we? I bought candy canes the day after Christmas at Walgreens (after standing in the cold trying for the Book of Mormon lottery) for less than a dollar.
But how was I supposed to talk about it on this blog without sounding like a cheap ass? At first, I thought of different ways to pitch it. At restaurants around the city, I spotted peppermint candy—those after-dinner mints. So could it be peppermint ice cream? But it was rather clear that I bought a huge candy cane and ground it down to mini bits and pieces. So let’s be honest here. I am a cheap ass.
Christmas has never been a big event in my family (to me, December is the most boring month of the year). As a result, the post-Christmas sales always captivated my attention like any hungry spendy consumer.
Not to mention my love of sugar has made candy canes quite appropriate for the person that I am. Unlike my previous recipes, I used a custard base to make the ice cream more fuller and richer. Because firstly, ice cream (and December) is meant to be indulgent. Eat all that butterfat, you suckers! Play around with the number of egg yolks which adds or subtracts the richness and FAT. I have always found six to be a nice balance.
The dfficulty of crushing candy canes may vary. I initially used my well-loved mini food processor which grinded to a halt. So I recommend either crushing by hand (in a plastic bag using a hammer, stomping or similar tool) or strong blender/food processor. Unfortunately, my blender made the pieces almost dust-sized, which was perfect for my general dislike of mix-ins. Pulse if you want larger pieces.
Note 1: Initially, I thought that I had peppermint essence so used 2 tablespoons. To my surprise, I read the label more closely and it was peppermint oil. Aka peppermint oil stronger than peppermint essence. My ice cream was completely MINTY. Consider using less, but the result was still quite spectacular. If you use peppermint essence, add 3 tablespoons to achieve the same intensity for my ice cream. For standard intensity, 1 tablespoon should be enough.
Note 2: Make the pie crust with those holidays cookies as I did (before I took care in my food photography).
4 cups (or 1 quart) of half and half
6 egg yolks
1 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of peppermint oil (for something less strong, use about 1-2 teaspoons)
Candy canes (about 2-3 regular-sized candy canes; ground into pieces using a food processor or put in a plastic bag and crush it to itty bitty crumbs)
In a medium saucepan, heat the half and half and 1/2 cup of sugar to a simmer.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until blended. The sugar helps prepare the egg yolks so they do not scramble.
Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed cream mixture. Whisk the mixture after every cup. Return the contents into the pot and place over medium heat. Stir frequently. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Add the peppermint oil. Mix well to incorporate.
Chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Five minutes until the end of churning (or when it looks like it’s almost solid), add the crushed candy canes.
Serve as is or with leftover crushed candy canes as topping.
Written in December 2013