Of all of the mints in my herb garden, chocolate mint is the most intriguing.

Of all of the mints in my herb garden, chocolate mint is the most intriguing.
A friend who attended an herb workshop at Missouri Botanical Garden earlier this year said of all of the mints, the expert said she wasn't quite sure what to do with this herb.
In terms of growing, it’s very much like any other hardy perennial herb. Chocolate mint is easy to grow and will easily take over an area if the roots are not contained. I have mine planted in a pot buried in the garden to keep it from getting too enthusiastic.
Although most of my mints seem to appreciate sun, chocolate mint is the first to wilt in afternoon sun. I have moved a chocolate mint plant starter to a corner where it will get morning sun and afternoon shade to see if that keeps it from shrugging in heat.
Mints are my favorite additive, and garnish. My latest experiment involves adding chocolate mint to my favorite summer after-gardening treat, homemade chocolate ice cream.
Here is the chocolate ice cream recipe I revised from my Cuisinart ice cream machine. Most ice cream machines come with their own recipes but most are interchangeable:

Simple Chocolate Ice Cream
3/4 cup special dark chocolate cocoa powder (Hershey's has one that is a blend of several dark cocoas)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup skim milk (use 2 percent or whole milk if you're not counting calories)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa, sugars and salt. Add milk. Using a hand mixer, beat to combine the cocoa, sugars and salt until dissolved. Stir in heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate one to two hours or overnight.
While cooling off the mixture, check your machine to make sure you have all parts frozen. My Cuisinart requires the ice cream bowl to be frozen for at least 48 hours in between batches.
To make, pour the mixture into the bowl and allow to mix for 15-20 minutes.
When first out of the bowl, this ice cream has a soft, creamy texture. For a firmer consistency, place it in the freezer for a couple of hours or overnight.
One serving, or half a cup, has about 240 calories using skim milk. If you use regular whole milk or regular milk chocolate, the serving is closer to 270-280 calories.
Serve on a garden bench in the shade with a sprig of freshly-picked chocolate mint for garnish. There's no such thing as too much chocolate, is there?

Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener sharing gardening tips in a rapidly changing climate. Copyright 2014 used with permission by Rolla Daily News and Waynesville Daily Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at chargardens@gmail.com.