I’m more of a savory dessert fan rather than sweet, and one of my favorites is black sesame ice cream especially after a Japanese dinner. (Green tea and earl gray flavors are included in that list.) The best black sesame I’ve had is from il laboratorio del gelato in Manhattan’s East Village, followed by whatever brand they serve at Sushiden or Sobaya.
When the time came to prepare for my Thanksgiving feast this year, I set aside a couple of hours to replicate this black sesame ice cream recipe, not as part of my menu, but as a test since I was already spending a long time in the kitchen all weekend. The original recipe noted that it was for 1.5L. I assumed that L was for liters, or about 6 cups, which was a little too much for an ice cream flavor I just wanted to test, so I cut everything in half. The problem is that I finished with an amazing ice cream that wasn’t even half a pint! So what could that L had stood for? I should have just gone for the original measurements. Listed below is the version I made–try it first, or double everything for a pint’s worth.
3 tbsps black sesame seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsps of whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1. Roast the black sesame seeds in a skillet using medium heat. Move the skillet fast and frequently to avoid burning until you can smell the roasting aroma; no more than a minute. Remove from heat. Separate a tsp’s worth for use later in the recipe if you want more texture in your ice cream. Transfer the rest to a mortar and ground with a pestle.
2. Combine the ground black sesame with half of the sugar in a bowl. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the remaining sugar with the egg yolk until the mixture becomes smooth and is a pale yellow color.
3. Heat the milk in a small sauce pan using medium low heat until the edges just start to bubble. Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add the milk to the sugar and yolk mixture while stirring to ensure the eggs don’t cook.
4. Make your custard base. Pour the sugar-yolk-milk mixture back into the sauce pan and heat over medium low heat. Make sure you stir constantly as the mixture thickens or else you will get lumps. Once the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon–I spent about 20 minutes–immediately remove from the heat. Pour into another bowl using a fine mesh or strainer.
5. Prepare an ice bath. Set aside. Slowly mix the custard in with the black sesame dry mixture. Make sure you add the custard slowly and in small portions or the mixture will separate. Put this bowl in the ice bath to cool while making sure none of the water gets into the custard. When cool, add the heavy cream. If you want your ice cream to have more texture, add the remaining tsp of roasted black sesame seeds as well. Mix well with a rubber spatula.
6. Using your ice cream maker, churn the black sesame custard for about 35 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency. Transfer to an air tight plastic container.
Thanks to Michele for my beautiful vintage plate!