Easy recipe for Black Sesame Ice Cream, inspired by our trip to Japan. What is in it? It's made with black sesame seeds (powder or paste), milk, egg yolks, cream, sugar and salt. It tastes like peanut butter and cookie dough but it's much healthier. Serve with sesame tuiles, yuzu or lemon macarons for a French touch. Can't find paste or powder? It's just as easy to make your own.
How to Say Ice Cream in Japanese
We love the Japanese word for ice cream. It looks complicated at first glance but just say this out loud:
AISUKURÏMU (pronounced: ais-eu-creamu). My daughter, Lucie, is still trying to work on me saying it right (she's currently in Japan studying Japanese).
I'm the biggest ice cream fan when it's homemade; even more so during a heatwave like it was in Japan. For more about our ice cream experiences, tea ceremonies and more sweet Japanese discoveries, read my post, Teatime in Japan.
What Does Black Sesame Ice Cream Taste Like?
Black or grey ice cream perhaps doesn't look that aesthetic, but what if I told you that it tasted divine? Black sesame ice cream tastes a cross between peanut butter and cookie dough.
If this was a blind tasting, I'd be convinced I was having a variation of a slightly salted peanut butter ice cream. My daughters also believe it's like raw cookie dough too. Except it's not. It's moreish, sophisticated and healthy too.
After tasting the most popular Japanese ice creams on our family trip, our unanimous choice was this one. Even over the most powerful Matcha green tea, tasted from Tokyo, Koyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kinosaki, Kanazawa to Shirikiwa-go.
What is Black Sesame Ice Cream Made Of?
Straight after tasting the black sesame ice cream, we headed to the nearest Japanese store to find black sesame. Antoine and the girls were so inspired and determined we had to make this at home. So straight away I got to developing this recipe. It's simple with only black sesame, egg yolks, whole milk, cream, sugar and a little salt as ingredients.
Here I used a 70g (2.5oz) packet of pre-prepared powdered black sesame seeds (Surigoma Black by Hokuya). It worked well, and was even better when toasting the black sesame in a pan first .
The good news is that the powder and paste isn't difficult to find. In Paris I discovered the most intense black sesame paste (pre-roasted) at Nishikidôri. If you can't find it, the powder is also excellent. Failing that, just toast whole sesame seeds lightly in a pan to release the flavours, then grind in a food processor or spice grinder.
I also experimented using a little honey, but it really overpowered the black sesame, no matter how little I used. The family have now unanimously tasted and approved the recipe below: not too rich and lighter with milk rather than with cream and as little sugar as I dare.
How to Make Black Sesame Ice Cream
Full printable recipe with video below.
While the milk is heating in a saucepan, whisk together the yolks and sugar until pale and creamy.
Whisk in the black sesame powder or paste.
Then add about half of the hot milk into the mixture to temper. Whisk together until well blended then pour back into the saucepan. Keep whisking constantly to keep the mixture smooth and heat over a medium heat just until thickened.
As soon as it's thickened, remove from the heat to avoid curdling the eggs. At this point, the mixture should smoothly coat a spoon without running down it. This is a sign that it's ready. Add the cold whipping/heavy cream and leave to cool. Then chill for a couple of hours or overnight.
When a chilled custard, pour into an ice cream maker to churn. Then transfer into a sealed container and store in the freezer.
What Goes Well with It?
This ice cream goes well just on its own although I love to add some fresh berries to it, if possible. Black sesame is particularly great with strawberries. Also good with raspberries, redcurrants, blueberries - all with a little acidity. For crispy texture, serve with French tuiles or salted butter biscuits, Palets Bretons.
What Can I make with Leftover Egg Whites?
As this uses 5 egg yolks, save the egg whites in a sealed jar or covered glass. The whites can keep in the fridge for about 5 days plus they freeze well too. Here are some recipe ideas that need egg whites - so save them up and enjoy these:
- Light French Chocolate Mousse (no cream)
- Vacherin (French ice cream meringue cake) - why not make this using this ice cream?
- Salted Caramel Macarons
- Crispy Sesame Tuiles - also great to serve with this
- Financier cakes
Yuzu'll also love this with Yuzu Macarons! Sorry for the Scottish joke (can never resist). Needless to say, the ice cream is delicious served with lemon macarons (using the leftover egg whites) - 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.
Black Sesame Ice Cream
- 75 g (3oz/ ½ cup) Japanese black sesame paste (or whole black sesame seeds) available from Japanese speciality stores
- 500 ml (18 fl oz/ 2 cups) whole milk full-fat (2.25 cups)
- 5 egg yolks organic
- 110 g (4oz/ ½ cup) sugar (½ cup)
- 100 ml (3.5 fl oz/ ½ cup) whipping/heavy cream (30% fat)
- 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.
Have you made this recipe?
I'd love to know how it turned out. Please let me know by leaving a rated review below. It means so much to have your support.
On Instagram? Share a photo and tag @JillColonna and hashtag it #madaboutmacarons. À bientôt!
Hi Jill! Thank you for the recipe, it looks amazing!
I often make custard based ice creams but the ratio of milk to cream that I usually use is around 1:2. Is there a reason for using such a large quantity of milk, with only 100ml cream?
Hi Marie - glad you like it. The only reason was to cut down on cream to make it a bit lighter and it works so well - but if you want more cream, then please just use your own ratio.
It sounds so yum! Although it's still cold outside but I will definitely try it. Thank you for the recipe!
It's a real pleasure - we love it, even in winter!
I made this today. Superb! Goes well with green tea ice cream. A combo Ive only seen in NYC but doesnt mean it doesnt exist elsewhere!
Seriously, this recipe might get me to buy an ice cream machine (im borrowing a neighbors right now)
That's wonderful to hear, Bethy. We also had this combo in Japan and can confirm it's incredible! So happy you like the recipe - hope you'll try other recipes from le blog.
Mine is in the middle of prep but it’s a weird green-grey color. How can I make it darker?
Hi Bethy, please see the recipe notes, as if you want it darker, go for the slightly higher ratio of black sesame seeds. However, don't be put off by the greyish colour, as the taste will still be amazing.
Hello! I am currently making this recipe and just wanted to point out... 500ml = about 16 fl oz, not 6. Almost made a big mistake as my first time ice creaming!
Thank goodness you commented here - thank you so much for pointing out the conversion mistake. In fact it's 18fl oz for half litre. Much appreciate this. I always work in grams so I didn't notice the mistake. Hope this doesn't put you off the rest of the recipes, which have double checked conversions! Hope you enjoyed the ice cream in the end, though? That's most important.
It was delicious! Thanks for making the recipe, there aren't many for black sesame and it is one of my favorites.
Thrilled to hear, Zach. We love this ice cream so much!
I am making this recipe again tomorrow, do you measure your ingredients by weight or by volume?
As you can see from the recipe, I measure always in weight and never by volume. The difference is huge. If you follow recipes by weight, you get consistent results, whereas with volume, it's hit or a miss really. To read more on the subject and to understand why I do this, please read my article here.
Also, whipping cream instead of heavy whipping cream is intended, correct?
Everything in this recipe is totally intended, Zach. Whipping cream should be at least 30% fat.
I'm quite certain we would love this. Victor is such a fan of nuts and seeds, peanut butter, all of it! We'll have to keep our eyes open for black sesame seeds, as I like to use them in cooking, but we find them somewhat hard to find.
Glad to hear you'll love to make this, Betty. Do you have an Asian store near to you? If not, I've just checked on Amazon - and they have a choice of seeds and even pure black sesame powder! Great news.
What an intriguing flavor! I always have a jar of black sesame seeds in the freezer as they are so pretty (I like sprinkling challah with both black and regular sesame seeds). We are still warm in Indiana, so ice cream making can still happen (though, like you, I find it impossible to be prepared enough to get a non-melted scoop or bowlfun!). I can't wait to read more about your trip to Japan.
What a great idea, Liz - never thought of keeping a jar of black sesame seeds in the freezer for sprinkling on bread. Although I wouldn't be able to make ice cream from using frozen ones. I'll try to post the rest of the trip here soon!
Oh Jill, I'm so excited to try your recipe! Now which macaron to gave with it . I love trying new things. I just made the forest cake with spinach & absolutely fell in love with it..
You'll love this, Bea. I forgot to mention that there's the pistachio, coconut, vanilla and wasabi macarons from the first book, too! Forest cake with spinach? That sounds interesting!
Christina | Christina's Cucina
Admittedly, I have sometimes substituted peanut butter in my hummus when I didn't have sesame tahini on hand! They have a similar flavor and no one knew the better! I'd be all for trying this, Jill! I'm not a huge ice cream fan, but like you said, on a hot day...
Well imagine that, peanut butter in hummus... good idea! Go on, it's hot in sunny California - go'an make some ice cream 😉