My homemade toasted black sesame ice cream (kurogoma) has a wonderful nuttiness and intense sesame flavor against a creamy custard enriched with coconut cream.
Continuing with my ice cream theme for National Ice Cream Month, the second recipe of the series is this delicious toasted black sesame ice cream (kurogoma). Many moons ago before Covid-19 time, we used to have a quarterly dinner party with a different menu each time. My friend Gail and I cooked a fun Japanese dinner with black sesame ice cream as the grand finale. My toasted black sesame ice cream has a wonderful nuttiness and intense sesame flavor against a rich custard.
Black sesame: for this recipe black sesame is the hero. Don’t bother substituting with white sesame. White sesame seeds are usually sold with their tan, brownish hulls removed whereas black sesame have their hulls still intact resulting in a subtle difference in taste. Black sesame seeds are nuttier with a slight bitter flavor compared to the sweeter white sesame.
Coconut cream: instead of using a mixture of heavy cream and 2% milk of my ice cream base recipe, I switched out the milk with coconut cream. Coconut milk has the liquid consistency similar to cow's milk while coconut cream is much thicker and richer. My favorite brands are Savoy and Aroy-D. They both come in the can. The coconut cream adds a wonderful subtle richness to the overall taste of ice cream.
How to make black sesame paste
My toasted black sesame ice cream requires black sesame paste. It’s a simple mixture of black sesame, sesame oil, and powdered sugar. The sesame seeds are toasted in a skillet to heighten their nutty flavor and fragrance. Once cooled, I used a spice grinder to get the seeds as fine as possible. To make the paste, I used a pestle and mortar and pounded the ground sesame, sesame oil, and powdered sugar until homogeneous. It gets folded into the ice cream base and gives the custard a beautiful charcoal color.
If you don’t have time to make your own sesame paste, you can find black sesame paste (neri goma) at Japanese and Asian grocery stores. Also, don’t substitute black sesame paste for tahini paste. There’s a distinct difference in flavor. Black tahini is made from hulled, raw black sesame seeds giving it a bitter astringency and only a mild nuttiness whereas Japanese-style black sesame paste is made from toasted black sesame seeds, with their hulls intact.
Tips for making ice cream base
When making the custard, keep the heat low and gentle otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled egg. Pay attention to the consistency as the base cooks and goes from liquid to a thin soup like texture. You can test for readiness by dipping a spatula into the base, running your finger across the spatula to see if the path created by your finger holds for a few seconds. If the base doesn’t start running down the spatula, the custard is ready. I always strain my base to remove any solids.
This addicting toasted black sesame ice cream is a dream for those who love black sesame desserts like mochi, chiffon cake, bread, hakzimaawu (traditional Cantonese dessert soup), and tang yuan (black sesame dumplings). The flavor of black sesame is unlike anything that your taste buds have experienced when it comes to ice cream flavors.
For more ice cream inspiration, check these recipes: Vietnamese coffee ice cream, Earl grey chocolate ice cream, salted caramel ice cream, rhubarb crumble ice cream, roasted balsamic strawberry ice cream.
Toasted black sesame ice cream
- Ice cream machine
- Spice grinder
- Pestle and mortar
Black sesame paste
- ½ cup black sesame seeds
- 1 ½ tbsps sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Ice cream base
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups coconut cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 small egg yolks
- 2 tbsps toasted black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Black sesame paste
- To make the black sesame paste, add black sesame seeds in a dry skillet and toast the seeds over medium-low heating for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
- Transfer the toasted sesame seeds into spice grinder and pulse for 2 minutes. The sesame seeds should have a fine texture and no big pieces are noticeable. You can also use a food processor if you don't have a spice grinder.
- Add the ground sesame seeds, sesame oil, and powdered sugar to a mortar and use the pestle and pound the mixture until it forms a sticky paste.
Ice cream base
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up and whisk in ¼ cup sugar. Set aside.
- In a heavy non-reactive saucepan, combine heavy cream, coconut cream, salt and ¼ cup sugar.
- Put the pan over medium heat and let the mixture boil gently to bubbling just around the edges (gentle simmer). Reduce the heat to low.
- Carefully measure out ½ cup of hot cream mixture. Whisk in the hot cream mixture while whisking the eggs constantly. Continue tempering the eggs by adding another ½ cup of hot cream to the bowl with the yolks.
- Pour the cream-egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of a spatula, about 12-15 minutes.
- Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container.
- Whisk in the black sesame paste until fully incorporated.
- Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 2 hours or overnight. I like to refrigerate the base overnight for the most flavor.
- Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Spin until thick and creamy about 25-30 minutes.
- Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, scoop ice cream into bowls. Top with toasted black sesame seeds (optional)