I have an enduring memory of Crème de Menthe poured over Breyer's vanilla bean ice cream for dessert during family events. Turning to this classic concoction was the refuge of my grandmother, a terminal gardener who wasn't interested in cooking and liked to declare, “I prefer the outside of the house.” We grandkids had year-round access to ice cream with Hershey's chocolate syrup, but on special occasions, the whole family indulged in bowls of vanilla gilded by the electric green liqueur. “It looks like Scope,” my cousin would mutter under his breath. But I willingly fell into its syrupy clutches, watching the green streaks bleed into white and scraping up every creamy spoonful.
Sure, Crème de Menthe is the corny fare of sixties housewives and manly steakhouses, but I can't help enjoying its retro charm. And next weekend's annual St. Patrick's Day parade is a good excuse to make Crème de Menthe brownies, grasshopper pies and the classic cocktail with which the liqueur is best associated, the grasshopper.
If you like mint, but want to avoid the garish hue, Crème de Menthe also comes in white. And if this much mint is not your thing, but you're looking for something creamy and light, one of my favorite spring desserts is zabaglione. It's comprised of whipped egg yolks with sugar, into which some kind of alcohol, like Marsala or Prosecco, is blended. The mixture is then thickened over a pan of hot water, to resemble custard. Garnish with slices of kiwi and springs of mint.
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