October 11, 2006
Full of Beans: Black Bean Ice Cream

So far during the Full of Beans project, we've made a spicy and hearty black bean soup, enjoyed black bean cakes with a spicy and savory poblano sage cream sauce and made a black bean sandwich spread perfect for lunch or dinner. But you knew something like today's recipe was coming, didn't you?

Yep. You knew it was inevitable we'd go to wacky-town on the black bean express and here we are. Only... Only this isn't that weird an idea. Ice cream from beans? It's been done.

Of course there's the classic Asian originated red bean ice cream that many of us have enjoyed in our local sushi bars, but haven't you had coffee ice cream made from shade grown fair trade what? Beans. Plain old vanilla, which is in just about every ice cream is a bean-derived flavoring. And just where exactly did you think the chocolate in chocolate ice cream came from?

So think of those examples and not of the soup and fried bean cakes and savory sandwich that we've made with our black beans up to this point. If you add enough sugar to anything, it tastes good, right?

I admit to enjoying this ice cream quite a bit. It's based on one of those adzuki red bean ice cream recipes I found that uses a binary method of ingredient combination. A sweet cream ice cream base is prepared and then married to the ingredients that make up the actual flavor of the ice cream. You could use this method to make all kinds of interesting ice creams.

My wife and I noticed something when we enjoyed this ice cream. The tablespoon full of whole sweetened black beans are disturbingly like chocolate chips. The Redhead's theory (and one I share) is that in an ice cream, much of the chocolate flavor is really just a sugar flavor combined with the frozen creamy texture of the chips. I know it sounds crazy, but try it and tell me I'm wrong.

Some may question the amounts of cumin and cayenne here. The goal is not to overpower the ice cream. You should be left with just a memory of cumin and cayenne in the aftertaste of the ice cream.

Black Bean Ice Cream
based on a recipe for red bean ice cream from AllRecipes.com by INSPIRON41

Sweet cream base:
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teapsoon vanilla

Black bean flavor component:
1 cup cooked black beans, plus a tablespoon
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
the juice of one lime
scantest pinch of salt

I use one saucepan for this recipe and wash it out between making each part of this recipe. You can use two if you prefer. Have two bowls filled with ice ready and nestle two empty smaller bowls in each of those larger ice-filled bowls.

Combine 2/3 cup sugar with 2/3 cup water in the saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves into the water, forming a simple syrup. Stir in the cumin, cayenne, lime juice, and salt. When thoroughly combined, introduce 1 cup of black beans and simmer for about three minutes to allow the beans to soak up the syrup.

Blend the beans with an immersion blender and a cover or in a regular blender or food processor. Remove the blended mixture to one of the bowls sitting in the ice bath to cool. Stir in the extra 1 tablespoon of whole unblended cooked black beans while the mix is still hot. Stir occasionally to let the heat out of the mixture.

Wash your saucepan well. Place over medium heat. Combine and heat the cream and milk in the pan. Bring the mix almost to a boil, scalding the milk.

While the dairy heats, in another bowl combine 2/3 cup white sugar with the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix until thoroughly combined.

When the milk is just shy of boiling or just starting to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and cream mix to the egg and sugar mix and stir together. This is tempering the mix so you don't cook the eggs when you now add the sugar and milk mixback into the cooking cream and milk mix. Stir very well to combine.

Continue to simmer until the mixture thickly covers the back of a spoon. Pour into the other bowl nestled in ice and stir to help cool the mixture down.

Once the bowls are cooled to room temperature, mix the black bean mix into the cream mix. Stir very well, then remove to the refrigerator to cool further.

Follow the instructions to your ice cream maker to finish the ice cream. If you freeze this overnight, it will set up very hard. You may need to remove it to the refrigerator a half hour or so before serving for the best texture.

Don't tell your guests what kind of ice cream you're serving. Make them guess.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at October 11, 2006 6:46 AM Print-friendly version

That looks really good. Red bean is one of my favorite kinds of ice cream, so I am sure I would love black bean, too. :)

Posted by Cakegrrl on October 11, 2006 at 10:42 AM

Intriguing! I wish I could have tasted it. (It sounds like a lot of work, though...!)

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 11, 2006 at 10:47 AM

Meg, it wasn't that much work at all. The churning and freezing take a long time, but the rest of it comes together pretty quickly.

Posted by barrett on October 11, 2006 at 12:24 PM

Ok, thats it. I'm getting an icecream maker. Red bean Adzuki icecream sounds amazing... I'm sure black bean was good too, but my favorite treats in Tokyo were all red bean based. YUM! Thanks for sharing this!

Posted by Sara, The Wine Makers Wife on October 11, 2006 at 2:05 PM

Wow, this is interesting!!
I would never think about a black bean ice cream... however, I have seen "brownies" made using black beans! Have you seen that recipe? Let me know if you would like to dig it up for you, seems like a nice one to try in your bean project!!
Nice blog by the way!

Posted by Ana on October 14, 2006 at 12:26 PM
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