I don’t actually remember the first time I tried black sesame ice cream but I do know that the flavour of roast sesame and its many applications has intrigued me for years. Even more so now thanks to Alessandro who is obsessed with sesame (especially sesame Grissini rolled in San Daniele prosciutto and eaten together with a nice and creamy Gorgonzola).
Although I am all for ice cream sundaes marrying gooey brownies with caramel sauce and chopped salty roasted peanuts, the simplicity of a single scoop of gorgeous deep grey sesame ice cream, studded with black sesame seeds is something I cannot say no to whenever I see it on a menu.
Alessandro and I went to Japan a few years ago and besides falling in love with the whole country, once again I also fell head over heels in love with black sesame ice cream. Roasted sesame seeds have such a complex flavour and the deep grey hue of the ice cream is so intriguing (given that there are few dishes or food items that are grey), I must have gobbled up litres of the stuff during our two week trip.
I have tried experimenting with black sesame quite a bit (the Black Sesame Madeleines I posted about a few weeks ago were great) but I have not always been successful (I once tried a black sesame twist on a Cinnamon Roll and the result was nothing worth writing home about). So although I am tempted to make Black Sesame White Chocolate Truffles, I am wary at the moment and maybe black sesame is best left to be eaten in ice cream form (which is fine by me).
I had been meaning to try out the new ice cream maker Alessandro bought me for my birthday a while back but could not settle on a flavour at first. Partly because I figured that anything too complicated would just be too demotivating and stop me from making my own ice cream ever again. While brainstorming possible ice cream flavours, I suddenly remembered that I had picked up some black sesame paste (similar to Tahini, only blacker and pricier!) and black sesame seeds in Soho the other week. Even better, the mixing bowl for my ice cream maker had been chilling in the freezer for a few days already. I quickly looked up a few recipes for black sesame ice cream, and, realising how easy this would be I decided I would give it a go this weekend.
Although I found a few recipes online, in the end I had to come up with my own version. As always with anything cream-based I was once again confronted with not having the right type of cream for what any of the recipes required. I had 300ml of what is called single cream (at 11% fat content you cannot actually whip this so I am not sure what purpose this serves) as well as 300ml of heavy cream (at 45% fat content you would probably risk churning this into butter if taking this home while riding a bike on bumpy country roads – not that there is a risk of that happening in central London).
Most recipes required about 600ml of liquid to make about ¾ l of ice cream – in most cases this was a combination of different types of cream and/or milk. After a bit of math I noticed that the average fat content of the liquids was about 18% (i.e. the same as whipping cream). After some further maths (and really more maths than anyone should have to deal with on a Friday night after a long week at work), I managed to come up with a combination of my heavy cream, my single cream and some milk that got me exactly that – 600ml of liquid with a fat content of 18%. To save you all that trouble, make sure you buy whipping cream (and read the labels – the number of times I think I am buying whipping cream when in fact I picked up single cream once again is embarassing).
So here we go.
Black Sesame Ice Cream (makes ca. 750ml)
3 egg yolks
600ml whipping cream
2 tbsp black sesame paste
2 tsbp roasted black sesame seeds, ground fairly fine
1. Start by beating the egg yolks together with the sugar until the mix is pale and fluffy and has doubled in volume.
2. Next, gently heat the cream until simmering. Carefully pour some of the cream into the egg yolks. Combine, then add the rest of the cream. Pour the egg-cream mix (which is now a simple custard base) together with the black sesame seeds and the black sesame paste back into your pot.
3. On medium heat, gently heat your custard mix, stirring once in a while, until the temperature reaches ca. 80 degrees Celsius (at this stage the mixture will have visibly thickened). Be careful not to let the mixture reach more than 83 degrees Celsius or the eggs in the mixture will start to cook.
4. Prepare a large bowl with cold water and lots of ice cubes. Carefully pour your ice cream mix into a second bowl sitting in the ice bath. Let ice cream mix cool down completely.
5. If you have an ice cream maker, follow the instructions (mine is one where you put the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer for at least 6 hours, you then simply press the lid on, press start and gently pour in the ice cream base. After about 30 minutes you have gorgeous ice cream). If you don’t have an ice cream maker, I would pour the mix into a shallow bowl or a tupperware box and place in the freezer – taking it out every hour or so to stir until the ice cream it set.