Perhaps surprisingly, there are literally hundreds of different varieties of mint. Peppermint, spearmint, pineapple, apple, ginger, chocolate, orange, lavender, grapefruit, liquorice and basil to name a handful.
Some mints are better than others for culinary use, so the ones we have in the garden growing amongst the flowers and vegetables are spearmint, also known as common or garden mint, Moroccan mint (great for tisanes), basil mint and eau de cologne mint. Eau de cologne mint is my absolute favourite, its easy to grow, smells so good when rubbed between your fingers and tastes amazing. It makes the best mint sauce to serve up alongside roast lamb or pork for a traditional Sunday lunch.
Mint has a fantastic aromatic smell and unmistakable flavour. It is fantastically easy to grow- liking full sun to partial shade and most varieties prefer well drained moist soil. It also grows well in a pot. I love the fact it spreads in amongst the flowers and enjoy its slightly invasive behaviour, popping up in different places each year. It never gets the chance to take over the garden as it is constantly being picked.
There is nothing nicer than grabbing a handful of mint out the garden and you get a free aromatherapy session at the same time. Fresh mint is great torn up and tossed through loads of salads, added to the saucepan when boiling up new potatoes, adding it finely chopped into salad dressings, mixing it through a cucumber and yoghurt dip, chopped and added to cooked new potatoes or runner beans or peas with lots of melted butter, chopped and scattered over sliced juicy tomatoes. It also adds great flavour to drinks, jams, jellies, chutneys, pickles, fruit salads and in this case ice cream.
I love everything about this ice cream. From its green freckled appearance to its wonderful delicate minty flavour. Its delicious with rhubarb crumble.
- 120g caster sugar
- 150ml water
- 60g mint leaves (I used basil, eau de cologne, Moroccan and garden mint)
- Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 300ml double cream
- 125g mascarpone
- Put the sugar and water into a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for 5-6 minutes. Take of the heat.
- Put the mint leaves into food processor and blitz until finely chopped.
- When the sugar syrup has cooled, pour into the food processor with the mint and whizz briefly.
- Pour this into a mixing bowl, scraping the food processor bowl clean with a spatula.
- Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
- Lightly whisk in the cream.
- Fold in the mascarpone creating a lovely thick mixture. If you have an ice cream maker, spoon the mixture into the bowl and churn following the manufacturers instructions.
- Spoon the ice cream mixture into a freezer proof container, cover and place in the freezer.
- Every hour or so go to the freezer and give the ice cream a good stir with a fork. It will eventually get too firm to stir. Freeze until solid.
- Before serving, remove the container from the freezer and pop it into the fridge for about 20 minutes or so to soften.
Theres always gaps in the garden for new herbs to be planted in amongst the flowers and vegetables. On a recent visit to a local family run plant nursery ( Cade street, Heathfield, East Sussex) these gorgeous looking mint plants were to irresistible to pass on by! Basil mint, Moroccan mint and garden mint each with their own individual look, aroma and flavour.
A fun mixture of colour, scent and flavour. The purple leaves are the basil mint, the red tinged leaves being the garden mint and the spikier greenest leaves belong to the Moroccan mint.
To make the Bourbon biscuits you will need :
For the biscuit
100g plain flour, ½ level tsp baking powder, 2 level tbsp cocoa powder, 50g lightly salted butter, 50g caster sugar, 1 tbsp golden syrup, a little granulated sugar for sprinkling
For the filling
25g lightly salted buter ( room temperature), 50g icing sugar, 2 heaped tsp cocoa powder, 1 level tsp vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 160℃ / gas mark 3
1. Put all the biscuit ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you get a chocolate soil type mixture.
2. Tip out the biscuit mixture onto a lightly floured work surface and knead into a ball of dough.
3. Put the ball of dough onto some greaseproof paper or baking parchment and roll out to about 5mm in thickness.
4. Then using a sharp knife cut into 7cm by 2 ½ cm rectangles. A metal ruler is brilliant for doing this. You will need to bring the off cuts back into a ball and roll out again to use up all the dough.
5. Use a palette knife to lift the rectangles onto a lined baking tray, prick with a fork four/five times on each biscuit and place onto a shelf in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes. keep a close eye on them as you don’t want them to over cook and get to dark on the edges. If this happens they really don’t taste very nice, burnt cocoa!
6. Take out of the oven, sprinkle over some granulated sugar and allow to cool.
7. Put all the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon to combine.
8. Using a palette knife sandwich the biscuits with the filling together in pairs.
If you like bourbon whiskey ( I do! ) just add a tablespoon of it to the chocolate butter icing filling.
The biscuits crispen up as they cool so don’t over cook them.
The fresh mint ice cream looks great served in little bowls on a metal tray with the bourbon biscuits, sprigs of fresh mint and some edible petals like wild violet flowers or little violas would look pretty too!
Thanks so much for calling by the blog today…. Happy cooking!
Just to let you know you will find me on instagram ; joclarkcookingetc where I post photos of what’s growing in the garden, my walks in the East Sussex country side, flower arranging, seasonal foraging so basically all the things I love to and see.