After tasting the most popular Japanese ice creams on our family trip to Japan this summer, our favourite choice was Black Sesame Ice Cream.
One or two spoonfuls of this light yet creamy dark nectar has the same kind of addictive reaction that you’d get from eating a spoonful of slightly salted peanut butter. Yet it’s not peanuts, of course – but who would have thought that black sesame seeds made into ice cream could be this good?
Japanese Ice Cream
You’ll love the Japanese word for ice cream. It looks complicated at first glance but just say this out loud:
I’m not the biggest ice cream fan but when it’s hot, I adore homemade ice cream during a heatwave like it was this summer in Japan – and now, mid September, it’s back to ice cream weather in Paris this week with 29°C/84°F temperatures!
Such a dark grey colour of ice cream perhaps doesn’t look that aesthetic, does it? Neither does my black sesame version look particularly like ice cream as it melted pretty quickly in this heat while I eventually found my camera (I knew something was missing!). Although, personally, this is how I prefer it – do you? In this heat, I’m not going to take more photos. I ate it all and have no regrets.
Matcha Do About Green Tea Ice Cream
What I didn’t realise when I took this photo, is that the black sesame ice cream hidden underneath would be our favourite. With all the hype on the Matcha flavours, I almost felt embarrassed to prefer the Black Sesame! For more about our ice cream experiences and the sweeter side of Japan, read about it in my sweet treat post, Teatime in Japan.
Black Sesame Ice Cream: Powder or Paste?
Straight after tasting the black sesame ice cream, we headed to the nearest store to find black sesame. Antoine and the girls were so inspired and determined we had to make this at home!
So I got to it straight away on return to develop a recipe. Here I used a 70g (2.5oz) packet of pre-prepared powdered black sesame seeds (Surigoma Black by Hokuya) which we found in the Matsuya store in Tokyo’s Asakusu district, next to the Senso-ji temple and near the popular gelateria. It worked well, and was even lovelier when toasting the black sesame in a pan first (see recipe below).
Happily, on return to Paris I discovered the most divine, intense black sesame paste (which is pre-roasted) at Nishikidôri, which makes this recipe even easier, but if you can’t find it, the powder is just as good. I also experimented using a little honey, but it overpowered the black sesame. The family have now unanimously tasted and approved the recipe below: not too rich and lighter with milk rather than just made with cream. To top it all, black sesame seeds are so healthy too!
Black Sesame Ice Cream
A light but creamy popular Japanese ice cream that would particularly appeal to fans of peanut butter, due to its addictive, roasted, nutty intensity of flavours.
- 70 g (2.5oz) Japanese black sesame paste (or whole black sesame seeds) available from Japanese speciality stores
- 500 ml (6 fl oz) whole milk full-fat
- 5 egg yolks organic
- 115 g (4oz) sugar
- 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) cream whipping cream
- pinch salt Fleur de sel
Open Sesame (sorry, couldn't resist).
If using whole seeds, dry roast them in a non-stick frying pan for 4-5 minutes then grind in a coffee grinder (optional step but recommend doing this to bring out extra flavour). If possible, use pre-packaged black sesame paste found in Japanese speciality stores.
Gently heat the milk in a heavy-based saucepan (do not boil). Meanwhile, in a large bowl with a lid, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until creamy. Add the black sesame powder and salt, whisking until smooth.
Pour about half of the hot milk on to the black sesame mixture, whisking until combined then transfer back to the saucepan. Whisk constantly to keep the mixture smooth and heat over a medium heat just until thickened then remove from the heat to avoid curdling the eggs. At this point, the mixture should smoothly coat a spoon to show that it's ready.
Add the cold cream, set aside to cool, then cover and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions, then freeze for at least an hour before serving.
I recommend using pre-prepared Japanese black sesame paste, as it's already roasted. However, if you can't find it from speciality Japanese stores, it's also great using whole seeds: used a 70g packet of black sesame, but if you prefer your ice cream darker and more intense, use 85g (3oz). N.B. At my local Japanese store in Paris, I learned that black tahini paste is much lighter than the Japanese black sesame paste, which has more intensity.
Serve the ice cream on its own or with lemon or yuzu macarons (if using my recipes from either book, replace fresh lemon juice with yuzu juice, available in specialist Asian stores).
Yuzu’ll Love this with Yuzu Macarons
Sorry for the Scottish joke (can never resist – at least it’s not seedy!). Needless to say, the ice cream is delicious served with lemon macarons – better still, make yuzu macarons! Just follow either of the lemon macaron recipes in either Mad About Macarons or Teatime in Paris, and replace the fresh lemon juice with yuzu juice, available from Japanese specialist stores.
Have you made any of the recipes from le blog, my books, or just fancy making this Black Sesame Ice Cream? Please leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons on Instagram or Facebook. – and if you like my books, then I’ll be daring and ask if you would be kind enough to leave a review on Amazon. You’ve no idea how that would help boost Teatime in Paris (my favourite of the two), as it has been in the first book’s shadow (which is being reprinted again!) and your comment could help make it visible. Thanks so much – I love to see you enjoying the recipes!
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