Black Sesame Ice Cream

Do your Sundays fly by as fast as mine do? I just don’t know where the day went… and it doesn’t help that I live next to a church whose bell rings on the hour, every hour, reminding you exactly how fast the day is going. Ding, ding… it’s two o’clock already? Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. What??? Five o’clock? No way. I swear only 5 minutes passed between the time the bell struck six times and when it struck seven. It felt like that shot in an old black-and-white movie where the hour hand just flies around the clock to illustrate the passing of time. (Why doesn’t time fly like that during the work day?) On the very bright side, today I made black sesame ice cream.

I first encountered black sesame ice cream years ago at a dessert restaurant in NYC called Kyotofu and then consumed it on a frequent basis several years after that when I lived mere blocks away from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. It’s good stuff. It’s got a toasted, nutty flavor to it, not totally unlike peanut butter but I would even say better than. And I live on pb.

This ice cream is so good I daresay that if it were legal to marry ice cream in the state of Wisconsin I would march down to the county clerk and get myself a permit straight away. It’s that good. And I was afraid whatever I could make at home couldn’t live up to what I’ve had in the past, but you know what? It was even better. For reals. I can see this ice cream and I enjoying a lovely summer together…

Black Sesame Ice Cream (loosely adapted from “Black Sesame and Orange Ice Cream” found on www.seriouseats.com by Ethan Frisch and Max Falkowitz)

  • ¼ cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toast sesame seeds in small skillet, stirring frequently, until fragrant and nutty, then set aside to cool.

Transfer seeds to a blender and blend on high till seeds are crushed. (I don’t have a blender so used my coffee grinder to pulverize the seeds and then transferred them to a food processor for next step.) Add two to three tablespoons heavy cream and blend till smooth. Add remaining heavy cream and milk and blend on high till well combined, about two minutes. Seeds will not be completely pulverized, which is fine. Large chunks can always be strained out.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk yolk and dairy mixtures in a heavy-bottomed three quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly while custard thickens. Custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon and a swiped finger leaves a clean line.

Remove from heat and pass mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice bath until chilled, stirring from time to time. Stir in sesame oil and salt till well combined. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a plastic container to store.

salty caramel ice cream

I love ice cream.  It has been my most favorite food ever since I was a kid and in fact one of the first things I remember wanting to be when I grew up was an owner of a Dairy Queen.  True story.  My very first job was at a Dairy-Queen-like place in my hometown and I can easily ramble off some of the best places to get ice cream across the country off the top of my head (Herrell’s in Northampton, MA, Cones in New York City, Shatila in Dearborn, MI, Babcock Dairy in Madison, WI, see?)  I would add Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Columbus, OH to this list only I have never actually been there.  If I ever find myself in Columbus you can bet I will be stopping by, but until then I plan to work my way through Jeni’s cookbook.  (Is it still called a “cookbook” when it’s all about ice cream?)

I decided to start with her Salty Caramel ice cream which is apparently her most popular flavor.  I am always a fan of salty and sweet together so dove in even though the first step is to burn raw sugar in a saucepan which I found slightly daunting.  I shouldn’t have.  It was easy!

Jeni’s recipes don’t involve egg yolks which was a first for me when making ice cream and suited me just fine since it is easy to start to cook the egg yolks while making the custard and that is no bueno.  No one wants a cooked egg bite when eating ice cream.  Yick.

This ice cream is divine.  You can taste the burnt sugar caramel-y goodness with the hint of the sea salt.  It is creamy and smooth and all the things you want ice cream to be.  It was also fantastic when paired with the gluten-free brownies I made earlier in the week– especially if you heat the brownies up a bit first!  Mmm…  Going for a jog now.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream (from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home” by Jeni Britton Bauer)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color.  Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: it will fizzle, pop, and spurt.  Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir.  Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.  If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the vanilla and whisk.  Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour into frozen ice cream maker canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Vanilla “malted”

Fact: I love all things malted. I attribute this to the many “chocolate malteds” that my grandparents treated me to as a child. Malts are way better than shakes in my humble opinion.

I decided to make vanilla ice cream with a little malted powder thrown in for good measure. This is me opening a vanilla bean. Look at that manicure! Yeah, that didn’t last very long… Did some dishes later that day and there it went. Ah well.

I love the way the vanilla bean flecks dot the custard. Beautiful.

This ice cream was the perfect compliment to the strawberry pie that I made the other day but of course it is quite good all by itself too…

Malted Vanilla Ice Cream (adapted from a recipe from www.countryliving.com/icecream)

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup malted milk powder

In a medium saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar, egg yolks, and salt. Drop in split vanilla bean. Place pan over medium-high heat and whisk until mixture reaches a simmer. Lower heat to medium and whisk for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Strain mixture into large bowl, then whisk in half-and-half, cream, vanilla, and malted milk powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Pour mixture into ice-cream maker; process according to manufacturer instructions.

i scream, you scream, we all scream for…

One thing you should know about me before we get too far into our blog/reader relationship: I love ice cream.  I mean I love ice cream.  I love it so much I have been known to eat it twice a day and yes, maybe even three times a day during a particularly hot summer.  (Don’t judge.)  In fact, my first job was at a soft serve joint and fifteen years later I still say it was still the best job I ever had… Ice cream just makes people happy.

A few years ago I started making ice cream with my mom’s Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment and discovered that much like everything else in life, ice cream is even better when it’s homemade.  And what’s better still– my mom gave me the ice cream maker attachment because I was the only one using it.  Suh-weet.

This batch starts with espresso beans.  Espresso beans and a meat tenderizer.

After showing those espresso beans who’s boss you put them in a pot with whole milk.

Next you beat egg yolks and sugar until light yellow and fluffy:

Meanwhile you strain the espresso beans and return the espresso-flavored milk to the pot over low heat and then add the egg yolk/sugar mixture in parts while stirring constantly until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  It is very important to stir constantly otherwise you might wind up cooking the eggs… Not good.  I’ve done that before.  No one wants cooked egg bites in their ice cream cone.

It is important to completely cool mixture before adding to ice cream maker so you can either refrigerate it for an hour or so or put in a mixing bowl that is submerged in a larger mixing bowl that is filled with ice to cool.  This is also the stage in the game where you add heavy cream and instant espresso.  Once cool, you stand back and let an ice cream maker do the work.

Another great way to enjoy this ice cream?  Well, do you remember those Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies from earlier in the week?  You might be thinking  “Oh no you didn’t…”  Oh yes I did.

Espresso Gelato (from www.marthastewart.com)

  • 1/3cup espresso beans
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons instant espresso

Place espresso beans on a cutting board, and gently crush them using a heavy saucepan or a hammer (be careful not to pulverize the beans). In a medium saucepan, heat milk and coffee beans. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. Strain mixture, and reserve milk; discard solids.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, return milk to heat, and bring to a simmer.

Add half the milk to egg-yolk mixture, and whisk until blended. Stir into remaining milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat, and immediately stir in cream. Pass mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice bath until chilled, stirring from time to time. Stir in instant espresso, then freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Note: I added chocolate chips 2/3 of the way through the churning process in my ice cream maker but it would be great without them or with other mix-ins.  Oreos?  Genius.) Transfer to an airtight plastic container and store up to 2 weeks.  (I read somewhere that it’s a good idea to cover the top of the ice cream with plastic wrap before putting the lid on the container to prevent ice crystals from forming.  Not sure if this is always true, but so far so good for me.)