If you're looking for a rich and creamy dessert with a unique flavour, look no further than this delicious toasted black sesame ice cream! With just a handful of easily accessible ingredients, you can make this delicious ice cream from scratch at home. No ice cream machine required!
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Desserts flavoured with black sesame are hugely popular in Asian countries such as China and Japan. "Unhulled" black sesame seeds with the outer layer still intact are toasted and then often made into a sweet paste.
Black sesame paste can be used to flavour a number of things such as:
- Black sesame latte
- Black sesame ice cream
- Black sesame pudding
- Black sesame mochi
If you love peanut butter or nutty chocolate, I think black sesame desserts will be for you!
Make a Black Sesame Paste
In Japan, it's easy to find a roasted black sesame paste called "neri goma". This paste can be used in desserts, drinks or even on toast! You can also purchase it here on Amazon.
However it's also easy to make your own sweet black sesame paste, you just need to follow these simple steps!
One of the key features of black sesame paste is the fact that the sesame seeds are toasted before they're put into desserts. This helps extract the flavour and gives them an earthy and more intense nutty flavour that works perfectly in sweets.
To toast sesame seeds, you don't need any special tools. Just a frying pan, a stove and a few minutes are all you need for perfectly toasted sesame seeds.
As the sesame seeds are black, it can be difficult to tell whether they are burning or not. I recommend to keep the seeds moving in the pan (either by shaking or stirring) and take them off the heat after a few minutes or when you start to smell the sesame aroma.
Grinding the toasted black sesame seeds not only makes them finer and easier to incorporate into your desserts, but it also helps release more sesame flavour into whatever you're making.
The method of grinding usually depends on how much sesame paste I want to make. If you want to make a small amount for one recipe, I recommend using a mortar and pestle or a small spice grinder. If you want to make a larger batch you can use a food processor.
The final step is turning your ground sesames into a paste, and I achieve that by mixing it with a simple sugar syrup.
I like to make a simple syrup by boiling equal amounts of sugar and water until the sugar is fully dissolved, and then adding the ground sesame seeds. You can then continue to heat it until it reaches your desired thickness.
In order to allow the sesame flavour to shine on its own, I try to avoid using strongly flavoured sweeteners like honey or maple syrup (although, the consistency is good so you can use them if it's your preference).
As the ground sesame will be heated when making the ice cream, I skip making a thick paste and simply mix it with sugar and a little boiled water in a small bowl before adding it to the milk and cream. (For more info, see recipe card below.)
Making your own ice cream is easy to do and very customisable so I have a lot of fun making unusual ice cream flavours that you won't find in the supermarkets. (My personal favourites are tea flavours and I've used my hojicha ice cream recipe to make earl grey and jasmine flavour ice creams too!)
I always use the same base ingredients to make a sweet custard. This includes:
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream (37% or higher)
- Caster sugar
- Egg yolks
I recommend using whole milk and heavy cream not only because they make the ice cream taste creamier, but also because they make the texture smoother and nicer to eat. If you use low fat milk or single cream, you might find your ice cream is a little icy.
The egg yolks and cornstarch help thicken the custard, again, improving the texture of the ice cream.
Making Ice Cream by Hand (no ice cream machine)
While I love experimenting with new ice cream flavours, I have a small Japanese kitchen with no more room for extra appliances. Although it's takes a bit more work, it's easy to make this black sesame ice cream by hand without an ice cream machine.
- First, heat the milk and cream in a sauce pan until tiny bubbles appear around the edges. The best temperature is around 60°C or 140°F to prevent the milk from splitting or curdling.
- Next turn off the heat and remove it from the stove. Mix the egg yolks, sugar and corn starch in a separate bowl. (This is the point I add the sesame paste too, which helps evenly distribute the flavour.)
- Temper the eggs by adding a ladle of the hot milk/cream mixture to the bowl and then whisk them together. This prevents scrambling the egg.
- Gradually pour the rest of the milk/cream into the bowl while whisking and then pour it back into the saucepan. (For best results, wipe out the saucepan before you do this.)
- Heat on low and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens.
- Once it becomes like a thick custard and coats the back of a spoon, transfer it to a chilled container and cover the top with plastic wrap touching the surface. (This is to prevent a skin from forming.)
- Allow the mixture to cool, I like to speed up the process by placing the container in a bowl of ice.
- Once it's cool, put it in the freezer and mix every 30 minutes for 3 hours. (6 times in total)
TIP: set a timer every 30 mins so you don't forget!
- Another 2-3 hours later it should be set enough to enjoy! (After 4 hours or so, it will need 5-10 minutes on the counter top to soften before serving.)
TIP: If you make this recipe in the morning, it will be ready by the afternoon!
Tips and tricks for making homemade ice cream
Making homemade ice cream is fun and easy, but it takes time. Here are a few tricks I use to speed up the process as much as possible.
Use a wide container
If you use a wide container, the ice cream will have a higher surface area and this will help it freeze faster. The wider your container, the faster it will freeze. (And of course, if you use a smaller, tall container it will take longer.)
Use a steel container
Metals conduct heat and this makes steel containers ideal for freezing ice cream because the container gets extra cold! You will find the ice cream at the edges and base of the container freeze faster so if you mix well, your ice cream will be ready in no time!
I bought my containers in Japan but I found these similar ones on Amazon with leakproof lids. They're perfect not only for making ice cream, but storing food and marinating too!
Freeze the container
Again, this works best with a steel container, but if you freeze your container for an hour or two before putting your ice cream inside, it will act as a kick starter for getting your ice cream to the right temperature.
Even if you forget to do this in advance, you can place it in the freezer while you're making/cooling your ice cream mixture. It still helps!
Cool the ice cream mixture thoroughly
Because I use the custard method, the ice cream mixture will be warm and needs to be cooled thoroughly. If you pour it straight into the chilled container, it will cool quickly but the container also won't be chilled anymore...
To speed things up, I usually prefer to transfer the mixture to a bowl and place the bowl in an ice bath. Once it's cool enough, I transfer it to the container that I've been keeping in the freezer. It's an extra bowl to wash but it's worth it in my opinion!
To prevent blocks of solid ice cream, the mixture needs to be churned from time to time. I suggest mixing it every 30 minutes for 3 hours (6 churns in total). However if you churn it more than that, your ice cream will become smoother and smoother.
The first couple of times, the mixture will be soft enough to use a whisk. However after the 3rd or 4th churn, you'll find it easier to mix it with a spatula. Make sure to scrape down the edges of the container as these areas freeze faster.
I hope you enjoy making this deliciously fragrant and nutty black sesame ice cream!Print