Black Sesame Ice Cream

Black Sesame Gelato

My friend Kumi (from Japan!) called this authentic (holy smokes!). She said, “I feel this is what stores buy in Japan, then they dilute it with milk and resell to the customer to make money. Now it’s like I get to eat the stock.” Yep, it’s that intense. Real deal or bust.

There’s one whole cup of toasted black sesame seeds in here. Which, incidentally, is terrific for your hair.

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I’ve also discovered that whipped cream makes home-churned ice cream and gelato freeze just a little less rock-hard and soften better after a night in the freezer. If we can’t all afford industrial ice cream makers that aerate the ice cream as it churns, why not just do it by hand? (By hand, I mean a hand mixer.)

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There’s another secret. Almost all black sesame flavored things in China have a spoonful of peanut powder in them. It’s the espresso + chocolate combo of Asian desserts. Just as espresso powder enhances the chocolatey-ness of chocolate cake, peanut powder enhances the sesamey-ness of anything made with sesame paste, cutting the bitterness and increasing the toastiness. We add peanut powder or peanut butter to everything from sweet tangyuan filling to sesame noodles. Sometimes, in tangyuan filling, you can even see specks of ground peanuts.

To this black sesame ice cream, I’ve added an invisible but potent tablespoon of PBfit Peanut Butter Powder. Peanut butter in powdered form is the latest craze, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it in grocery stores. You can also find “ground peanut powder” in Asian groceries, and it’ll probably be a whole lot cheaper.

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Black Sesame Gelato

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: About 1 quart + a small bowl

Black Sesame Gelato


1 cup black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon peanut butter powder (I used PBFit. You can also use 1 tablespoon of peanut butter)
2 cups whole milk
2 and 1/2 tablespoons (15 grams) Thai white rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (Himalayan pink or sea salt)
2/3 cup natural cane sugar
1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream, very cold
1 tablespoon vodka (optional, helps prevent ice crystals)


  1. Freeze your ice cream bowl for at least 24 hours. Sometimes I just leave it in the freezer for a week.
  2. Grind the black sesame seeds. I prefer a spice/coffee grinder and do it in 3 batches, but you can also use a food processor or powerful blender.
  3. Put the ground sesame seeds in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-low heat and toast, stirring frequently, until you begin to smell a nutty aroma (5-10 minutes). Transfer to a bowl.
  4. Blend the whole milk with the peanut butter powder and Thai white rice flour, then pour into a medium pot and add the black sesame powder. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Use a spoon to scape and press the mixture through the strainer. You should only have a little bit of coarse sesame grounds left in the strainer at the end of this process, no more than a few tablespoons.
  5. Stir the salt and sugar into the mixture. Cover the bowl and let the mixture cool, then chill it overnight in the fridge.
  6. When you are ready to churn your gelato, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. If the weather is hot, it helps to refrigerate the bowl until it's cold before doing this.
  7. Fold a little whipped cream into the black sesame paste to loosen it up, then fold in the rest in a few batches.
  8. Churn the gelato in your ice cream maker, then eat immediately and freeze the rest.
  9. Once frozen for longer than 4 hours, let the gelato soften at room temperature for 10 minutes before scooping. Sometimes mixing in a dash of milk makes it creamier.

Comments 6

  1. Elizabeth

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! There’s a gelato place where I live that does a life-changing black sesame gelato, but a girl can only afford so many $5 scoops. Thrilled to try out your recipe. I’m curious about 2 things – 1) what purpose does the Thai rice flour serve (basically what do I lose if I don’t have any), and 2) can you taste the vodka? I think I’d rather have ice crystals than alcohol flavor, but I guess for this question I can always just try it out and see 🙂

    Also, I love the background that peanut flour is often added because I’ve always thought the sesame gelato had a hint of PB flavor (which, lest there be any doubt, is completely awesome).

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      Hi Elizabeth! Thai rice flour thickens the mixture, and it’s recommended by Alice Medrich for its neutral flavor. This mixture is already really thick though, so you might be able to leave it out! Or you could use cornstarch – I’m not sure of the exact substitution, but 1-2 tablespoons (8-16 grams) should work. You can’t taste the vodka at all, but you can leave it out, especially if you plan on eating this freshly churned 🙂

  2. Elizabeth Resnick

    This is gorgeous!!! Discovered your site from a link on Mark’s Daily Apple. I rarely make desserts…I’m much more likely to just eat a bit of chocolate. But might have to try this. Always heard black sesame was great for your hair…I’m all about foods that help you look great!

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