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I’m not a fan of candy canes on their own—they’re too sticky, too hard, too minty, and have a slight bitter aftertaste. But peppermint ice cream is one of my favorite things of the holidays. Something about the cream and the cold of the ice cream counteracts all the things I hate about them, and lets all of their finer qualities shine.

I use peppermint oil for this recipe. I bought it at a health food store in the essential oils section. But please be careful when using it. It should not directly touch the skin, and only a very small amount should be used for the recipe. Also, please make sure it is a pure essential oil, and not a fragrance. Ask the vitamin person at the healthfood store if what you’re buying is safe for consumption in small doses. If in doubt, just buy the peppermint extract. It’s cheaper anyway.

candy cane ice cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup of milk
4-5 drops of peppermint essential oil, or a teaspoon pure peppermint extract
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
1-2 drops of red food coloring (optional)
4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

1. In a saucepan, combine cream, milk, and peppermint oil (if you are using peppermint extract, do not add until after you remove the saucepan from the heat). Set over medium heat and bring almost to a boil.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until smooth, pale in color, and falls in ribbons. While whisking, slowly add about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the sugar and egg mixture. Add the mixture back into the saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon. Pour the custard through a sieve and into a bowl. Mix in food coloring, if using, and refrigerate until cold, about 3-4 hours.

3. Pour the chilled custard base into an ice cream maker, and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Just before it is finished, add in the crushed candy canes.

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