Ever since rediscovering our ice cream machine earlier this year, I’ve been obsessed with trying to recreate my favorite ice cream flavors. It’s a really fun process and, like most things, the homemade versions are usually better than the store-bought kind (mostly because you can change it to your preferences!). My family has been telling me to make black sesame ice cream for a while now, so this one was a long time coming.
If you’ve never tried black sesame ice cream, I’m going to need you to stop everything and make some right now. It may seem like it’d be a weird choice of flavor, but black sesame is actually commonly used for a lot of Asian desserts. And it’s because it’s delicious! It’s got a nutty and slightly sweet flavor with a beautifully creamy texture. Plus, it’s got a peculiar gray color that’s kind of perfect for a spooky Halloween treat.
This recipe uses both black sesame seeds and black sesame paste. You can buy either at any Japanese grocery store or on Amazon. I used an unsweetened black sesame paste, however, if you do end up buying a sweetened version, you can just add less honey or sugar. Also, you don’t need to have an ice cream maker for this! The recipe below includes instructions for both methods.
The hardest part of making homemade ice cream deals with the process of tempering eggs. It’s really easy to accidentally cook some of your egg yolks, especially when you’re trying to thicken the custard. Just make sure to stir vigorously and constantly to prevent it from heating too quickly. You have to work quickly, especially because the mixture has to go from hot to cold so quickly.
One last tip: make sure to cool your ice cream enough. Although it isn’t necessary, cooling the ice cream overnight in the fridge (before you process it) helps with the texture. It’s also best to leave your ice cream in the freezer overnight before serving, although I know it’s hard to wait that long. Don’t worry, it’ll still be soft and easy to scoop a day or two later.
I personally use a metal loaf pan to store homemade ice cream since it stays really cold. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep in the freezer for up to two weeks!
Black Sesame Ice Cream
- 2 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
- 400 ml whole milk (roughly 1/3 cup)
- 80 g sugar (roughly a little over 1/3 cup)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp black sesame paste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 ml heavy whipping cream (roughly a little under 1 cup)
- Pinch kosher/sea salt
- If the black sesame seeds are not roasted yet, do so in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir until they start popping. Cool completely.
- Grind sesame seeds very finely. I used a Japanese mortar and pestle (specifically for things like sesame seeds) for this but you can use whatever you have around the house.
- Place whole milk into a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with the whisk attachment), mix the sugar and egg yolks together until pale yellow.
- Add the honey, black sesame seeds, and black sesame paste to the egg mixture. Whisk until well combined.
- Pour the warmed milk into the sesame mixture in a slow stream. Make sure it isn't still too hot, as you don't want the eggs to cook.
- Pour the mixture back into the small pot over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the custard thickens and it coats the back of the spoon. It shouldn't exceed 181°F or else the eggs will cook. This process should take 5-7 minutes.
- Fill a large bowl with water and ice. Pour the custard into a medium bowl and place it within the water bath to cool down. Add vanilla extract.
- While the custard cools, whisk together the heavy cream and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.
- Once the custard has fully cooled, add the whipped cream. Fold in gently but do not over mix it.
- Chill mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight (at least 2 hours) until completely cold.
- If using an ice cream maker: Process the mixture according to the instructions on your machine. This should take around 25 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze it for several hours (at least 2 hours, but best if overnight).
- If you aren't using an ice cream maker: Transfer mixture to a container and put it in the freezer. Stir every few hours to break up ice crystals until completely frozen.
- Top with more black sesame seeds and enjoy!