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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.

glass dish with scoop of black sesame ice cream topped with redcurrants and tuile

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 ice cream

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.

Black sesame ice cream

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.

Sesame tuiles ice cream

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

glass dish with scoop of black sesame ice cream topped with redcurrants and tuile
5 from 10 votes

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time13 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Chilling/Freezing Time3 hrs
Total Time23 mins
Course : Dessert, Snack, teatime
Cuisine : French, Japanese
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 224kcal

Description

Easy recipe for Black Sesame Ice Cream, a Japanese favourite treat 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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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: toast in a pan then blitz in a grinder. N.B. At my local Japanese store in Paris, I learned that black tahini paste is much lighter than the Japanese black sesame paste and just as good.
Serve the ice cream on its own or with crispy sesame tuiles (see recipe here - ideal as uses up the egg whites!).
Accompanying video HERE on Jill's YouTube channel
 
Jill Colonna
MadAboutMacarons.com

Black sesame ice cream with tuile and redcurrants in bowl

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Comments (24)

5 stars
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!

Dear Zach,
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.

5 stars
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?

Hi Zach,
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.


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