Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

by Megg

Post image for Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

I love ice cream.  I can’t deny it.  I even worked at an ice cream shop for years and never got sick of it.  I was allergic to dairy as a child, and if you think of it, most kids’ parties are dairy based: ice cream socials, pizza parties, etc.  Luckily I grew out of my allergy by age 12, and perhaps now I’m just making up for lost time.  I’m not a big fan of milk, but ice cream?  I’m there!

When I was a kid, I asked Santa for some silly ice cream machine I’d seen on tv; a toy, that is.  I guess I wasn’t old enough to grasp the fact that whatever weird potion it required to make the “ice cream” was going to have dairy in it.  So on Christmas I got a giant, wooden barrel type ice cream maker, with a note from Santa saying this would be healthier or something like that.  I was pretty disappointed; my mom had obviously talked Santa into this.  We made some banana soy ice cream for me, and a regular version for the rest of the family.  I still wasn’t impressed.  Their’s was light, creamy, yellow.. banana-y.  Mine?  I remember it distinctly… it was icy, not creamy in the least, and when you’d try to scoop it it would sorta shave off in weird icicle shapes.  The color was a weird yellowy gray.  I wasn’t so crazy about it then, but nowadays I really appreciate that my mom was trying so hard to  make something for her allergic, and probably pretty ungrateful, daughter.  Thanks Mom… better late than never, right?  Anyway, the ice cream maker went into a cabinet after that and was never used again.. until I remembered it a few years ago.

The thing was big, and by this time kinda old, but it lasted me a few holiday seasons in which I made huge batches of candy cane cookies n’ cream and eggnog ice cream to bring to holiday gatherings.  After a particularly exhausting spree of ice cream making last December, the thing bit the dust.  Even when it worked it was so loud you couldn’t talk or watch tv or anything while it ran, and during it’s last couple of runs I’d have to give it a hearty thump on the top of the motor every 5-10 minutes to keep it from grinding and rattling in a particularly loud way.  Plus, it was big enough that it required me to make at least 5 quarts of ice cream at a time.  So when the thing finally went kaput, I was more than ready to get something new.
A few months ago I got an ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer.  I love it!  It’s small, so it’s easy to store and I can make small batches of ice cream instead of a whole vat.  It requires no ice or salt, which, if you’ve ever made ice cream, you’ll know is a huge convenience.  You just freeze the bowl over night and it’s ready to go.  It’s super quiet, and super fast as well.  You just turn it on and let it do it’s thing.  Lovely!  (Click here for a photo of it in action!)

I wanted a unique ice cream to make for my fancy dinner I made for Steve last weekend, and came across a great ice cream blog called Scoop Adventures.  When I checked the site recently, there was an awesome recipe for pink peppercorn ice cream.  I already had pink peppercorns in my pantry (which is good, ‘cuz they ain’t cheap!) and I’ve used them for desserts before.  They’re not actually a peppercorn, but a dried berry that’s about the same size as peppercorns, but a lovely reddish-pink color.  They have a peppery, floral flavor that’s unlike anything else I’ve tried before.  I couldn’t wait to try this ice cream!

Pink Peppercorns

It also turns out that this recipe is a part of this month’s Kitchen Play Progressive Party Event.  Every month they feature a full menu of delicious dishes from 6 bloggers, and if you make one of these recipes in the month that the menu is posted you can enter their contest.  The sponsor of September’s contest is the wonderful Sur la Table.

I was sold on this recipe already, but thought it would be extra fun to play along with this cool event.  I’ll be submitting this post for this month’s contest.  If you’re a food blogger, check it out and see if you too would like to play along!

Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream
—adapted from Scoop Adventures
Makes 1 quart of ice cream
  • 3 tablespoons pink peppercorns, coarsely ground (I used a mortar and pestle)
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

1.  Mix the peppercorns, 1 1/2 cups of the milk, 1/2 cup of the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium-sized pot and warm over medium heat, stirring gently.  Once the mixture has warmed, remove from heat and cover the pot.  Let the mixture steep, at room temperature, for at least an hour to infuse the milk with the peppercorn flavor.

2. While the milk mixture is steeping, mix 2 tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whip the softened cream cheese until it’s fluffy and smooth.  Set up a fine-mesh sieve over the cream cheese bowl and set aside.

3.  When it’s done steeping, take the pot with the pepper-milk mixture and add the rest of the milk and heavy cream.  Return the pot to medium heat and bring to a low boil.  Let the mixture boil until it starts to thicken, about four minutes, stirring occasionally.  Make sure your heat is never too high, or you risk curdling the milk.

4.  Once slightly thickened, remove from heat.  Gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture, then return to a boil.  Cook over modestly high heat (again, taking care not to let the milk curdle) until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 1-3 minutes.

5.  Remove the thickened mixture from the heat and pour through the fine-mesh sieve you set up earlier, into the bowl with the cream cheese.  This is to strain out the peppercorns, which is really important for the texture of your ice cream!  Don’t worry, the peppercorn flavor will still shine through, due to all that steeping.  Whisk the milk mixture and the cream cheese together until blended and smooth.  Whisk in the salt, and your ice cream mix is ready to cool!

6.  Take a piece of plastic wrap and gently press it over the surface of the mixture. This will prevent a film from forming.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill the mixture thoroughly.  This will take at least 4-5 hours, but letting it chill overnight is preferable.  Trust me on this one, since in the past I’ve gotten antsy and tried to go ahead and make the ice cream before the base was chilled enough.  The ice cream just won’t be the same, so be patient!  I know it’s hard! ^_~

7. Once your mixture is nice and chilly, it can go into your ice cream maker.  They’re all a bit different, so check the manufacturer’s instructions and proceed accordingly.  Once your ice cream is done churning, spoon it into whatever container you’ll be freezing it in, and cover the surface with a piece of parchment or wax paper to keep it from getting icy on top.  Freeze until firm, and then you’ve got yourself some awesome homemade ice cream!

Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream

A few notes about ice cream making for the newbies out there:
  • Read the directions that came with your ice cream maker.  They’re all a little different, and you want to make sure you have the thing put together correctly.  Make sure you know what the maximum and minimum capacity is.  In my old one, I couldn’t do small batches because the dasher wouldn’t spin.  My new maker is small, so I can only do small batches.  Also see if your maker requires any ice or rock salt, etc.
  • Chill the ice cream maker’s bowl or canister before making your ice cream (if the directions tell you to do so, that is).  This doesn’t mean the whole machine, just the part your pour the actual mix into.  Both my old-school mixer and my new Kitchen Aid attachment mixer require this.  For both mixers I just put the bowl/canister in the freezer overnight or longer.  I’ve heard of people that just keep the bowl in their freezers so they can make ice cream whenever it strikes their fancy, but sadly, I’ve never had that much free space in my freezer.  Just as it’s super important to make sure the mixture is nice and cold, the bowl/canister also needs to be well-chilled so everything freezes up properly.
  • Be careful when cooking dairy products, so you don’t end up with a clumpy mess.  I mentioned in the recipe to make sure the milk doesn’t get so hot that it starts to curdle.  I wasn’t even close when I was making this recipe, but hey, doesn’t hurt to be aware of it.  If you’re making a custard-style ice cream that has eggs in the mixture, this is even more important because your ice cream mix could become scrambled eggs if you’re not careful.
  • Homemade ice cream isn’t like the stuff you buy at the store.  When your ice cream is done churning, it’s going to be pretty soft, so don’t let this throw you off.  I’ve seen lots of reviews of ice cream makers online where people complain to no end that the ice cream is too soft.  That’s because you have to freeze it! Trust me, I’m not known for my patience, and I am known for my love of ice cream, but making it from scratch is a long process, but well worth the wait.  The ice cream is soft when it comes out of the maker, but will harden when you put it in the freezer for a few hours.  It also has a tendency to harden more than store-bought ice cream when in the freezer, so plan on taking it out of the freezer a few minutes before you serve it.
  • When you are putting your finished ice cream into containers to freeze and harden, leave a little space in the container, as it will expand.  By the way, your average plastic storage container will work just fine for storing your delicious ice cream.

Lastly, have fun!  Making ice cream at home is so gratifying and you’ll probably end up with some of the best ice cream you’ve ever had.  If you make it in large batches, you can give away pints or quarts as gifts… trust me, it’s a great way to make friends.

As for this recipe, the pink peppercorn ice cream, Steve and I thought it was really amazing!  The peppercorn flavor is prominent without being overwhelming, and the texture is so creamy!  I thought the sweetly-spiced flavor would go perfectly with dark chocolate, and what do you know?  It was a great combo.  To make those chocolate garnishes you see in the photo, I just melted down some nice dark chocolate.  I cut the tiniest bit off the bottom corner of resealable freezer bag, poured the chocolate in the bag, and drizzled it in abstract designs on pieces of parchment paper.  I let it dry at room temperature until fairly firm, then let it harden completely in the fridge.  Once it’s hardened, I had some cool little chocolate designs to add a gourmet touch to my dessert.  Cool, huh?

Pink Peppercorn Ice Cream
Okay readers, what’s the best ice cream flavor you’ve ever had?  Have you ever made ice cream from scratch?  How’d it work out for you?

Thanks again to Scoop Adventures for the recipe, and Kitchen Play and Sur la Table for sponsoring this unique and fun contest!
  • cherry bento

    Love it, Ive never made ice cream before. Curious about the pink peppercorns!

  • Megg

    You should definitely try them if you get the chance, Cherry Bento! Thanks for your comment! :)

  • tofugirl

    Beautiful ice cream! My favorite flavor is a tie between black sesame and "zen butter", both from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. Zen butter is a combination of peanut butter and sesame and is AMAZING. And if you are ever in NY, I will buy you a scoop, haha.

  • Megg

    That's a deal, Carol! ^_~ I HOPE I can make it to NY sometime soon! Likewise, if you're in Chicago, hit me up! I'm not sure about ice cream, but I sure know a lot of great places to eat (and drink) around here!

  • Lindsay C

    Great job making this recipe, Megg! It looks delicious and I love your picture of the pink peppercorns. Great tips about ice cream making too. Thanks for trying out my recipe.

  • Bentobird

    So wonderfully informative, this post, plus beautiful flavors and photos, well done! Have a great weekend, Megg!

  • Megg

    Thanks for the great recipe, Lindsay! Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

  • Megg

    You too Bentobird! Thanks!

  • Medifast Coupons

    Thanks for the ice cream recipe, who doesn't love ice cream!?
    And the ice cream newbie tips, great! Thanks!

  • Anderburf

    This sounds so good! I just got some pink peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing and I think I'll try them out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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