It seemed appropriate for the beginning of the Labor Day weekend to do one last – for now! - post on my search for the Best Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. So far I haven’t found the “perfect cone” but I did come close and while the official search is over I will remain alert for new contenders for the throne.
For this chapter I stopped by West Gotham Market in Hell’s Kitchen to check out the pop-up location of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and try their take on a refreshing mint ice cream. Here’s the scoop from Jeni’s on Backyard Mint:
“Peppermint has a strong, sweet scent, and it also has a high concentration of oils, which are essential in flavoring ice cream. When you roughly chop fresh peppermint the way we do, the leaves are bruised, which opens the oil pockets. In our world, bruising is just the thing to do when you’re cold-soaking peppermint in cream. Soaked overnight, the peppermint scent is locked into the cream, ultimately giving Backyard Mint ice cream it’s cool, subtly sweet flavor and remarkably refreshing herb-garden finish.”
The Scientific Part:
The rules are the same and I’m judging based the contenders for Mint Chocolate champ on five criteria - Flavor and then the four “Cs” - Color, Creaminess, Chips, and Charm.
In my ideal world I want a dash of kitsch with my high-quality ingredients, so my preference is for pale green ice cream with intense mint flavor and deep dark chocolate shavings. Yes, I realize that this doesn’t make them ‘chips’ per se, but then they’re more smoothly incorporated with the ice cream. I’m giving extra points for a whimsical setting or special experience – that’s the Charm part.
Special Comment on the Score: Normally I just let the numbers tell the tale, but in this case I want to point out that the Backyard Mint is mint only, not mint chip - which makes me a little sad on Jeni’s behalf because I actually think this might be the best ice cream I had all summer, but it scores poorly due to the color and lack of chips. Rules are rules even if it’s tough to be objective, so here’s my recommendation: buy the Backyard Mint and stir in some chocolate shavings for the ultimate scoop.
Flavor – beautifully, clean clear mint flavor that truly tastes like the herb (5 of 5)
Color – peppermint pattie white, oh dear (1 of 5)
Creaminess – gorgeously smooth and creamy, love! (5 of 5)
Chips – alas, there were no chips at all, but then this was just Mint ice cream (1 of 5)
Charm – Gotham West Market isn’t exactly charming, so much as ‘cool’ but it does have great outdoor space (4 of 5)
Total Score: 16/25
For folks following these adventures at home, here are the current rankings of the ice creams and shops I’ve visited so far
1. The Lands at Hillside Farms: 22/25
2. Graham’s Fine Chocolate & Ice Cream: 21/25
3. Ample Hills Creamery: 20/25
4. Black Dog Gelato: 19/25
5. Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream: 18/25
6. Bobtail Ice Cream: 17/25
7. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: 16/25
8. Cayuga Lake Creamery: 16/25
9. Sundaes and Cones: 11/25