When I posted a recipe for a fresh mint and chocolate chunk ice cream, I was blown away by how many of you really love chocolate and mint ice cream, even just mint ice cream on its own! How good is it when you infuse the milk and cream with fresh mint, hey? A whole other realm of heaven compared with using peppermint extract!
Well, the excitement lead to a lot of excellent questions of the “will you make a protein version?” variety. Plus, I got a huge nudge from a few lads armed with ice cream makers 🙂
So finally, I came around to thinking “Well, why not?” It’s not as though I will be scoffing rich ice creams all summer and a proper protein gelato would be a lovely change from my usual protein desserts. Yes, that’s right, proper protein gelato. Not protein powder mixed with milk and gums or gelatine and whizzed in an ice cream maker. Go ahead and do that, if you will, but don’t call it ice cream. Not within earshot of me 😉
In the interests of never ever “making do” or “settling for a substitute” when it comes to healthy desserts, I’ve made a real gelato that is both high in protein and low in both carbohydrates and fat. It is a gelato style ice cream (milk-based), is made using a traditional custard method, and has all the flavour and deliciousness of real ice cream as a result. The only difference is that it doesn’t contain anything unhealthy and it’s actually good for you.
This gelato is good for you.
Sound the trumpets. No, skip that rubbish. Just go and make this gelato. Play a fanfare and thank me later 😀
Mint is a great choice for a protein gelato as it doesn’t add any extra sugar or fat. This recipe can be adapted to suit other flavours, according to your whim. You can omit the mint and substitute with vanilla, spices, cacao, fruit puree, whatever. Just be aware that in some instances, this will affect the macros and the texture of the gelato. For example, fruit puree contains a lot of water so will make for a more icy texture.
A word about the role of sugar and fats in ice cream … Sugar not only lends sweetness to an ice cream. It also helps develop and keep the ice cream’s creamy texture. Fat also gives ice cream a more intense flavour, being a flavour carrier, as well as giving it a lush creamy texture and mouthfeel. By omitting both, it is important to include the egg yolks, which also thicken the custard and create a creamier result. I use micellar casein for ice creams as it is a natural thickening agent and helps promote a richer, creamier texture. You will not get this by using whey. So, with all that in mind, this ice cream is well armed to remain creamy and delicious, despite the lack of the usual ingredients required to make it so, or with the addition of gums or gelatine.
You can substitute a non-dairy milk for this recipe very easily. However, I would not recommend a vegan protein powder.
Serve it immediately for a softer, gelato style dessert. If you prefer a firmer ice cream, freeze it for an hour or two. This gelato is best eaten fresh, soon after it is made. The addition of protein powder to ice cream will change the texture of the ice cream if stored for long periods. It’s still lovely, but definitely at its best in the first few hours. As a result, the quantity made in this recipe will allow for 4-6 small serves or 2-3 large serves.
You really can’t tell the difference between this gelato and the original recipe, here. Because this is real gelato. I call that a win. No. I’m feeling a bit like a legend right now 😉
Enjoy, protein peeps! Yes, yes, macros are provided below. They’re fantastic … better than fantastic … shoo, go make gelato, now!
Makes 600 grams / Serves 4 – 6 (100-150 grams per serve)
500 millilitres skim milk
10 grams fresh mint leaves (peppermint, spearmint, whatever)
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs (59 grams in the shell)
125 grams Natvia (or similar low-calorie sweetener like Splenda, Truvia, or Nu Via)*
60 grams Micellar Casein (I used Professional Whey MPI)**
20 grams 100% chocolate, chopped
*You could use pure stevia extract for this recipe, however, I have found that it imparts an odd flavour in ice creams and prefer not to use it. If you do, start with about 1/8 teaspoon and work your way up from there. I can’t vouch for the result though. I use a granulated stevia blend for this recipe as I have found it to work extremely well in producing a good flavour and texture.
**I use unflavoured casein. If you prefer to use a mint or choc-mint flavoured casein, go right ahead! Remember, though, that flavoured protein powder will have gums and sweetener added. The gums will add to the texture of the ice cream, which is good. You will have to adjust down the amount of sweetener you add though.
The first step is to infuse the milk with the mint. I prefer an overnight infusion, but you will get a great flavour in a minimum of about two hours. Wash the mint leaves if required and gently pat dry on paper towels or a clean dish towel. Place into a bowl or jug and pour over the milk. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours and up to eight hours or overnight.
Combine the egg yolks, eggs, and sweetener in a bowl and whisk until light and creamy. Transfer the milk and mint mixture to a saucepan over a low to medium heat. Bring to simmering point and then slowly strain the mixture into the egg mixture, whisking continuously. This can be tricky so you might find it easier to strain the cream into a jug or container and then add it in a slow stream to the eggs as you whisk.
Place the custard back into the saucepan and cook over a low heat until the custard thickens slightly. Stir continuously and do not allow the mixture to boil. I prefer to use a whisk for this as it helps prevent lumps forming as I whisk. The custard will not thicken a great deal if using skim milk but this is OK.
Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl, and place the bowl on or in an ice bath. This will cool the custard quickly. Whisk until cooled to barely warm to touch. Once cooled, add the micellar casein and mix well by whisking until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for two to eight hours or overnight. I left it overnight. When ready, churn in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It took all of 20 minutes to achieve a creamy gelato texture. If you want chocolate chunks added, chop the chocolate into uneven pieces. I chop them quite small, but it’s up to you, about how you like your chocolate chunks distributed! Fold the chocolate through the mint ice cream.
If you want a lovely gelato texture, serve immediately. If you prefer a firmer ice cream, place into an airtight container and freeze for an hour or two until ready to serve.
If you do not have an ice-cream machine, place the custard into the freezer instead of the fridge. When it’s partly frozen, remove and whisk briskly to distribute the ice crystals. Return to the freezer and repeat 2 or 3 times until the ice-cream is well churned and ready. At this point, fold in the chopped chocolate. Serve or place into an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.
If you prefer, omit the chocolate and serve with a low fat, low carb chocolate sauce. MMMM
Ideas for Variations
Cheater’s Mint: omit the fresh mint leaves and substitute with a little peppermint extract. Use 1/8 teaspoon and adjust to suit your preference. Add the extract to the egg mixture before adding the milk. This is nowhere near as fantastic as the fresh mint infusion.
Vanilla: omit the mint and add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, bean paste, or the beans scraped from 1/2 vanilla pod to the egg mixture before adding the milk.
Spiced: Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, or other spice mix. This is also great with the chocolate, nuts, or the vanilla version. A little chilli would be awesome with a chocolate version. Just sayin’ 😉
Chocolate or Choc-Mint: Either leave in the mint or omit it, as desired. Add 15 grams of pure cacao to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth, before adding the milk. Add some chopped 100% chocolate for a chocolate chunk version.
Fruit: Add up to 125 millilitres (1/2 metric cup) of pureed fresh fruit. Be aware that this will create a slightly icier texture, unless you use a fleshy fruit such as banana.
PB or nuts: Add some peanut butter or other nut butter, to taste. This will increase both fat and carbs but also the protein content. Or simply add some chopped dry roasted nuts to a vanilla, spiced, or chocolate version.
The macros provided here relate to the recipe as stated above, for both the plain mint and chocolate chunk versions. Substitutions of other ingredients will change the macros, of course. Please account for any changes you make, or ingredients you include.