Thin Is In...

I'm a little late in jumping on the bandwagon this year, but I didn't want the Girl Scout cookie season to pass by without acknowledging it in some way. Bloggers all over the internet have been coming up with creative ways to turn the famous cookies into other desserts, or to make cakes and cupcakes that call to mind the flavors of the various annual treats, as if the thrill of eating them straight out of the box is somehow insufficient, and I figured I would jump on the bandwagon as well.

As I've recently discussed, I crave salty snacks more than desserts, but even I can be counted on to pick up a box or two of Girl Scout cookies when my cousins come calling every year, selling them on behalf of their daughters. Since sweet treats tend to linger around my house until they go stale (well, at least they did before I moved in with Justin), I acquired the habit of keeping my Thin Mints in the freezer to extend their longevity while I waited for my transient cravings to emerge and motivate me to eat them. Besides, everyone knows that Thin Mints are at their best when they're cold and almost refreshing.

Since my Thin Mints were already taking up freezer space, I thought I would transform them into another frozen treat that would take advantage of them at their chilly best by turning them into a batch of ice cream. I'd seen the recipe on Serious Eats, my favorite food blog, and I couldn't get it out of my mind, so I finally relented and gave it a try.

Unfortunately, the product that resulted didn't quite live up to my imagination: the ice cream, which lacked any alcohol or other additives that help keep ice cream from freezing too hard, was like an impenetrable brick. I was concerned that this might happen from the moment I made the custard base, which set up to a dense, mouse-like consistency when I chilled it prior to churning. Instead of pouring it into the machine, I literally had to spoon chunks of it into the canister. It was not an auspicious beginning. 

The ice cream itself tasted fine, though it could have used a bit more mint flavor. Surprisingly, the bits of chopped Thin Mints that were swirled through the mixture at the last minute retained their pleasant crispness. I just didn't enough the chewy, stiff texture of the ice cream overall. At the end of the day, I would have rather satisfied my Girl Scout cookie craving by eating half a sleeve of unadorned Thin Mints, though I was glad to have tried this recipe's intriguing technique of infusing cookie crumbles in the cream for flavor. Hopefully, I'll be able to marry that technique with a different base to create some interesting flavor combinations in the future...

Chocolate Thin Mint Ice Cream
adapted from Serious Eats

6 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 c. half-and-half
28 Thin Mints (one box), divided
5 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. In a medium saucepan off heat, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until light in color and slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in cocoa powder until no lumps remain. Slowly add half and half, whisking constantly. Finely chop 10 Thin Mints (crumbs should be no larger than a pea) and stir into dairy.
2. Put saucepan on medium-low heat and cook, whisking frequently, until custard reaches 180°F on an instant read thermometer (custard should coat the back of a spoon but a swiped finger should leave a clean line). Remove custard from heat and stir in chocolate, then salt to taste.
3. When chocolate is fully melted and incorporated, transfer to an airtight container and chill overnight in refrigerator.
4. The next day, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Roughly chop remaining Thin Mints; chunks should range from pea to nickle-sized. In the last minute of churn, add chopped Thin Mints. Return ice cream to container and chill in freezer for at least two hours before serving.

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