Black sesame icecream recipe

Posted on November 15, 2012

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I don’t want to gloat too much, but I’m such a lucky girl. The ice cream maker attachment for my beloved Kitchenaid has finally arrived – just in time for summer too! I know what you’re thinking…is it really worth all the effort to make your own ice cream? And how much ice cream would you eat anyway?! The same thought was swimming around my head until I finally bit the bullet and ordered the darn thing. Now I love it. Having made my own ice cream, I can genuinely say there is a huge gulf between freshly made ice cream and any random tub you get from a supermarket. Home made ice cream smells heavenly and you know exactly what goes in there – zero preservatives! As for how much ice cream I eat…well there is always the ‘healthier’ sorbet option, it doesn’t all have to be creamy and fatty. At least that’s how my little voice convinced me into buying the attachment.

Anyhow, I must thank my dear friend for lugging the ice cream maker attachment all the way from the States for me. As part of my gratitude, I’ve promised him a supply of fresh home made ice cream. His first request? Black sesame ice cream.

Now black sesame might sound a rather strange flavour for ice cream if you’re not accustomed to its wide use in Asian desserts, but it is quite a delectable flavour in sweets. Black sesame is revered for its intense fragrance and nuttiness in many Asian countries (particularly East Asia and South East Asia). It is used in desserts in a number ways; including for sweet fillings in buns, pastry or mochi, as a thick sweet paste/soup, in cakes or even as toppings. As an example, the below photos are: a dessert featuring tofu fa (silken tofu) in black sesame paste topped with black sesame ice cream and a black sesame cake with a cream and black sesame steamed roll filling, both of which I sampled in Hong Kong earlier this year.

To me black sesame ice cream is like a thicker and richer, albeit cold version of Chinese black sesame paste/soup. It has an intoxicating, almost luxurious taste, kind of similar to the way how good chocolate just melts in your mouth and slowly excites your taste buds and other senses. Are you salivating yet? Suffices to say that I am rather fond of black sesame myself and was more than happy to oblige in his unconventional request.

Being relatively new to the ice cream making business, I had to rely on a good and trustworthy recipe. The search took me to Nami’s Just One Cookbook blog. A quick look at her list of ingredients and the beautiful photos and I knew this was the one. And did it deliver! The ice cream is rich, creamy and full of black sesame flavour. The only change to her recipe I made is in the ordering of the method to reflect how I prefer to work in the kitchen. Also instead of cooling the mixture in an ice bath, I just let it cool in the fridge.

To achieve a fuller flavour, the recipe calls on the use of both freshly toasted and ground black sesame seeds as well as black sesame paste. Luckily for me, I have some black sesame paste sitting in my pantry. I discovered black sesame paste a few years back and ever since then always beg friends to pick me up a couple of jars when they travel to Asia. Black sesame paste is marketed and used much like how peanut butter is – as a spread for toast (at least this is the case for countries like Taiwan and Hong Kong). I’m not sure if you can get any in Melbourne (or Australia more generally) but to be honest, I haven’t really tried looking for it. If you can’t find any ready made black sesame paste, Nami also shows us how to make your own; the recipe is essentially equal parts toasted and finely ground black sesame seeds mixed with equal parts honey. Easy peasy no?

RECIPE – Black sesame ice cream (yields about 900mL of ice cream)

Original recipe from Just One Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 400mL full cream milk
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons black sesame paste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • pinch of salt
  • 200mL thicken cream

Method:

  1. In a clean saucepan, heat milk on low to medium heat until it is simmering. Once small bubbles form, turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. While the milk is heating up, dry roast the sesame seeds on low to medium heat. The sesame seeds are ready and you can turn off the heat as soon as they begin releasing their nutty aroma.
  3. Finely grind sesame seeds. If you prefer the ice cream to have bits of sesame seeds through it, you can get away with a coarse grind. The finer ground your sesame seeds, the smoother the end result will be.
  4. In a clean bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until it’s pale and has thickened. Add in ground sesame seeds, black sesame paste, honey, vanilla and pinch of salt until you get a uniform mixture.
  5. Continue whisking at a low speed and slowly pour in warm milk.
  6. Now transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and return it to low to medium heat. Continually stir the custard while it is heating up until it thickens and reaches the ‘ribbon stage’ (ie. the custard will coat the back of a wooden spoon), this will take a few minutes. Be careful not to overheat the custard because you don’t want the eggs to curdle.
  7. Allow custard to cool completely. This will take around an hour if you put the bowl (covered) in the fridge, otherwise you can put the saucepan in an ice bath to speed up the process.
  8. In a clean bowl, whisk cream until stiff peaks form.
  9. Gently fold whipped cream into the cooled custard mixture. Allow mixture to chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours (it’s probably more common to leave it in the fridge overnight).
  10. Once the custard has chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Generally a 25 minute churn will be sufficient for most domestic grade ice cream maker models.
  11. If you like ice cream of a soft serve consistency, then it’s ready for serving straight after the churn. Otherwise, transfer mixture into an airtight container and freeze for at least 3 hours.
  12. If you don’t have an ice cream maker handy, most recipes suggest freezing the custard and manually stirring the semi frozen custard every 3-4 hours to break up the ice crystals. I’ve tried this in the past and the result has always still been a touch icy. The ice cream maker is really necessary if you want super smooth ice cream.

I know it seems like quite a bit of effort to make less than 1L of ice cream, and yes it would probably cost you less to buy a tub of ice cream than to make your own. But…the taste of home made is so worth that premium; just one taste and I’m sure you’d agree. Plus now I can make whatever strange or unconventional flavour ice cream I desire. Priceless :).

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