Smoking heavy cream adds an incredible depth of flavor to frozen desserts like ice cream. It's just the thing to balance out and enhance fresh mint leaves, sweet honey, and dark chocolate.
Why this recipe works:
- Smoking cream on its own allows you to easily determine the final smokiness of your ice cream.
- Smoke adds depth of flavor to light, fresh-tasting mint leaves, with honey acting as a bridge between them.
Note: This recipe will make more smoked cream than you need, and the exact amount of smoked cream you use is up to you. Smoked cream will keep 7 to 10 days if refrigerated.
- For the Smoked Cream:
- 4 cups hickory or mesquite wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
- 1 quart heavy cream
- For the Ice Cream:
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped very fine and chilled in freezer
For the Smoked Cream: Set up your smoker with 1/2 cup wood chips for low-temperature (about 150°F) smoking following the manufacturer's instructions.
Fill a shallow disposable aluminum baking pan with enough ice to come halfway up pan, and just enough water to nearly cover ice. Nest a smaller shallow disposable aluminum baking pan with at least 2-quart capacity into the ice bath. Set pans in smoker and add 1 quart of cream to smaller pan.
Close smoker, adjusting vents to maintain as low a temperature as possible, and smoke until cream develops a strong, but not overpowering, smoky flavor, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours; replenishing wood chips 1/2 cup at a time as needed, and stirring cream occasionally. Monitor temperature of cream: If an instant-read thermometer registers above 60°F, discard ice bath and replace with a fresh one. Pour cream into an airtight container and refrigerate.
For the Ice Cream: Blend smoked cream with fresh cream to taste, starting with 1/2 cup smoked cream and 1/2 cup fresh cream and adding more of each to taste, until volume totals 2 cups and smoky flavor is pleasant and not overpowering. Reserve additional smoked and fresh creams for another use.
Combine diluted smoked cream with milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, add mint, cover, and let steep until dairy tastes very minty, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and honey in a cleaned heavy-bottomed saucepan. Strain cream mixture into saucepan, pressing on leaves with a spoon or ladle to expel all liquid, and whisk to combine, then place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until ice-cream base reaches 170°F or until a finger swiped across the back of the spoon leaves a clean line.
Pour ice-cream base through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container, stir in salt, and chill in an ice bath or refrigerator until it registers no more than 45°F on an instant-read thermometer, at least 4 hours and up to overnight. Churn according to manufacturer's instructions, adding chocolate during last 30 seconds of churning. Transfer ice cream to airtight container and chill in freezer for at least 4 to 5 hours before serving.
Ice cream machine, smoker, disposable aluminum baking pans (one with at least a 2-quart capacity, the other larger)