Scooped: Black Cardamom and Black Pepper Ice Cream Recipe

Scooped: Black Cardamom and Black Pepper Ice Cream Recipe

Black cardamom. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Smoky desserts are my favorite. Smoky everything, actually. I found myself craving a little smoky ice cream the other day, and decided to put the black cardamom (that's been sitting in my cabinet for months) to good use.

Black cardamom is a smoked spice with a similar flavor to the more common green cardamom, and despite sharing a name, the two actually come from entirely different plants. While most whole spices are dried, the fresh black cardamom pods contain quite a bit of moisture, and thus have to be smoked to dry and preserve them.

They're best used whole, since the strong smoke flavor is in the husk. They have an incredible, deep smoky aroma, and make anything cooked with them taste like a campfire.

Full disclosure: A friend who tasted an earlier batch of this ice cream compared its flavor (very happily) to cigarettes. Needless to say, the recipe has been adjusted. Post adjustments, it's sweet and smoky with a slight black pepper kick, and deep spice aroma—but if you're looking to make cigarette-flavored ice cream, simply double the amount of black cardamom. Delish.

Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He currently lives in London, where he really misses New York City tap water.

Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.

  • Yield:1 quart
  • Active time: 50 minutes
  • Total time:8 hours


  • 4 black cardamom pods
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, whole
  • 2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 eggs yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar


  1. 1.

    Heat milk and cream over a low flame with spices for 30-40 minutes. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow in color. Temper the egg yolks into the hot milk and cream, and cook until thickened and the mixture holds a line on the back of a spoon.

  2. 2.

    Chill overnight in the fridge and spin in an ice cream machine. Serve with some fresh cracked pepper, for a spicy, smoky dessert unlike any you've ever tasted.