The Secret Ingredient (Black Pepper): Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Strawberry-Black Pepper Sauce Recipe

Photographs: Kerry Saretsky

There was a point in the last few years when the combination of strawberry and black pepper became quite trendy. In fact, I believe the reason I got into business school is because I wrote a strawberry-black pepper tart recipe for my interviewer. Except I never tried it! Never tried the tart, never tried the combination.

So here, I tried a riff on my favorite—strawberries and cream. Buy some sweet cream ice cream, and quickly stew together strawberries and black pepper. What was I missing all this time! The sauce is sweet, but it stings your tongue like little black pepper pop rocks. Poured over the sweet cream ice cream, this 5-minute dessert becomes unusual and sophisticated. The black pepper is like a secret agent, enacting a covert op under a thick, sweet, red cover, taking the sauce from standard to exceptional.

Which does prove the point, sometimes trends are worth following. (Next up will be that strawberry-black pepper tart!)

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 pint sweet cream or vanilla ice cream
  • 10 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 12 turns on the peppermill of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften.

  2. In a food processor, combine strawberries, black pepper, sugar, orange juice, and water. Pulse until almost smooth, but with a few chunks left in the mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepot. Turn the heat to medium, and bring to a bubble. Simmer until the mixture comes together as a sauce, and slightly thickens—about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature, or just a touch warmer.

  3. Spoon 4 large ice cream scoops of sweet cream ice cream into 4 bowls. Pour the cooled strawberry-pepper sauce over the ice cream, and top with a simple cookie. Serve immediately.