Why It Works
- Brown sugar complements the flavor of roasted sesame.
- Unlike black tahini, Japanese-style sesame paste is roasted, giving it a much deeper flavor and jet-black appearance.
- When the custard is steaming-hot, the yolks will be cooked through.
While living in Japan, I fell in love with black sesame sofuto (soft-serve), which has an all-natural charcoal color and an unbelievably rich and nutty flavor that any fan of peanut butter will love. The secret is Japanese black sesame paste, made from roasted, un-hulled sesame seeds for maximum flavor.
- 6 ounces turbinado or light brown sugar (about 3/4 cup; 170g)
- 4 1/2 ounces egg yolk (about 1/2 cup; 125g), from 7 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 7 ounces heavy cream (about 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons; 195g)
- 8 ounces whole milk (about 1 cup; 225g)
- 6 ounces Japanese-style black sesame paste (about 2/3 cup; 170g), such as Kuki (see note)
Combine turbinado or light brown sugar, egg yolks, and salt in a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, then whisk in cream and milk. Cook over medium-low heat until warm to the touch, then increase to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a flexible spatula, until mixture is steaming-hot but not bubbling, about 8 minutes or to 155°F (68°C) on a digital thermometer. Off heat, whisk in black sesame paste and strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large stainless steel bowl. For a more homogeneous color, process about 30 seconds with an immersion blender; this is strictly an aesthetic consideration.
Fill a sink compartment or extra-large bowl with a few inches of ice water and place bowl of custard inside, stirring from time to time, until cool, about 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until no warmer than 40°F (4°C), about 4 hours, or hold up to 1 week.
Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, place a 1-quart container and flexible spatula in the freezer. When ice cream is fluffy and thick, shut off the machine and scrape ice cream into chilled container, using chilled spatula. Enjoy as soft-serve or cover with plastic pressed directly against surface of ice cream, then close lid and freeze until hard, about 4 hours.
The flavor and color of this ice cream hinge on high-quality Japanese-style black sesame paste, which is made from roasted, un-hulled black sesame seeds. The jet-black paste is rich, intensely nutty, and pleasantly bitter, like dark chocolate. Look for it in squeezable pouches at your local Japanese market, or shop for Kuki black sesame paste online. American brands of black sesame paste (often labeled "black tahini") are made from raw, un-roasted black sesame seeds, for a flavor that's too mild and astringent for ice cream.