Easy recipe for Black Sesame Ice Cream, a Japanese favourite treat. What is in it? It’s made with black sesame seeds (powdered or paste), milk, egg yolks, cream, sugar and salt. It tastes like peanut butter but it’s much healthier. Serve with sesame tuiles, yuzu or lemon macarons for a French touch.
After tasting the most popular Japanese ice creams on our family trip to Japan, 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 – and healthier too!
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. My daughter, Lucie, is still trying to work on me saying it right!
I’m the biggest ice cream fan when it’s homemade; even more so 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. Although, personally, this is how I prefer it – do you?
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 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.
EVEN EASIER: toast whole sesame seeds lightly in a pan to release the flavours , then grind in a food processor or spice grinder.
Low-Sugar Ice Cream
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 just made with cream.
To top it all, black sesame seeds are so healthy too!
Recipes to Use Up the Leftover Egg Whites?
Serve this black sesame ice cream on its own or rustle up some crispy sesame tuiles in just a few minutes using up the egg whites from this recipe! Here’s the recipe (including a video demonstration) here: Crispy Sesame Tuiles.
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
Black Sesame Ice Cream
- 75 g (3oz) Japanese black sesame paste (or whole black sesame seeds) available from Japanese speciality stores
- 500 ml (18 fl oz) whole milk full-fat (2.25 cups)
- 5 egg yolks organic
- 110 g (4oz) sugar (1/2 cup)
- 100 ml (3.5 fl oz) whipping 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.