Thursday, January 20, 2011

Black Pepper Ice-Cream

Mr Cake is quite a fan of black pepper - he can always be seen grinding copious quantities onto his dinner and one of his greatest dreams would be to have one of those giant restaurant pepper grinders so he could say "Pepper, sir?" to our guests (and I imagine me, every single night - which might be why we don't have one!) - so I figured black pepper ice-cream would be perfect for us. Black pepper, for him, and ice-cream, for me. :-D

It seems a little odd, I guess, which was part of the appeal - but odd isn't enough of a drawcard on its own (that is perfectly good cream, sugar and egg I'm putting into it, after all!), it does also have to sound tasty. Black pepper goes pretty well with strawberries, and though I may have left it a wee bit late in the season (strawberries, please come back!) we did manage to find a punnet to have with our ice-cream. So it had the taste appeal as well as just the weird appeal.

Usefully, one of my Christmas presents was a pestle and mortar - useful because the recipe calls for you to bash up your own peppercorns. I may have bashed a bit much - they're probably better in slightly bigger chunks, but hey, it was fun. ;-)  

The pepper infuses in the milk for an hour and then it's just a regular ice-cream custard - warm the milk, then add it gradually to the egg yolk, then put it back over the heat and stir until thick.

I found this thickened up pretty quickly - it does have a pretty high ratio of egg yolk so that probably helped. I have to say I was less tempted to lick the spoon than normal (which is not to say I didn't...) - I guess my sweet tooth wasn't impressed with the idea of peppery custard. While it was okay pre-churning it certainly wasn't something I'd want to eat by the spoonful, unlike some of the other ice-cream custards I've made.

As the custard thickened well it churned  up pretty quickly once chilled - which is always good, because much as I love my sturdy little ice-cream maker it isn't the quietest of appliances, so it's not a bad thing to have a quick-churning ice-cream. ;-)

The pretty serving picture will come perhaps in a day or two - we made another, even tastier ice-cream to go with it so when I write about that one you can see them both. ;-) The ice-cream was quite nice, certainly very different, very peppery, and seemingly strangely for ice-cream was quite warming. It went wonderfully with the strawberries, and also with some rockmelon we'd cut up, and I am pondering other good combinations as there's still plenty in the freezer. It is certainly a flavour best had in small quantities, though, and as such the recipe below only makes about half a litre - feel free to double it (I did - and most ice-cream makers can churn a litre at a time) if you have a penchant for pepper.

What strange-sounding combinations have you discovered work well?

Black Pepper Ice-cream (from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz)
1/2 cup/125 ml milk
1/3 cup/65g sugar
1 Tbsp black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
pinch of salt
1 cup.250ml cream
3 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, peppercorns, salt and 1/2 cup (125ml) of the cream in a medium saucepan. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for an hour.

Re-warm the mixture. Pour the remaining cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Pour the custard through the strainer, pressing the peppercorns gently to extract as much flavour as possible. Discard the peppercorns and stir together the custard and the cream. Stir until cool over an ice-bath.

Chill for a least 6 hours or overnight, then churn in an ice-cream maker. Serve with macerated berries or melon.


  1. Matterhorn (in Wellington) does a mean Black Pepper Ice-cream in winter to accompany a Pineapple Souffle. It is lovely with something sweet to give it that edge. Will have to try your recipe!

  2. Definitely try it with pineapple. It's a great combination, although I've not had the ice cream, just caramelised pineapple with lashings of ground black pepper


  3. Yes that one will have to get a run in the ice creammaker for sure, but first I think fennel ice cream may get a run this weekend.

  4. That's really funny, my hubbybis the same about the restaurant pepper grinders so I bought him one for Christmas and he does say to himself "pepper sir? Oh yes please" boys hey?

  5. Chloe - yum! I bet Matterhorn's is amazing, love their food.

    Kaz - thanks for that tip, we caramelised some pineapple and tried that with it and it was spectacular.

    Mairi, I'm keen to hear how your fennel ice-cream goes!

    Pease Pudding, that is hilarious! Love it!


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