When I first brought home a library copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop (shortly before we bought our own copy – it didn’t take long), one of the very first recipes we opened it to was this one: a custard-based ice cream with orange zest and crushed Sichuan peppercorns, wow! Jon’s been wanting to make it ever since, and we finally got our chance. We had friends over (fresh ice cream wants an audience) and made Chinese pork ribs and scallion breads, followed by this ice cream for dessert.
It was amazing: rich and creamy, with a deep aroma of fresh oranges, with each bite finishing on a tingle of Sichuan pepper. I can only imagine what it would be like with really fresh, numbing peppercorns.
Also, since it called for the zest of four whole oranges, we had a lovely excuse to have fresh squeezed orange juice the next morning.
Orange-Sichuan Pepper Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
- 3 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 oranges
- 6 large egg yolks
Coarsely crush the peppercorns in a mortar. Put them in a saucepan with the milk, ½ cup of the cream, and the sugar, and heat until warm. Zest the oranges directly into the pan. Once warm, cover, remove from the heat and let steep for one hour. After steeping, warm it back up.
Pour the rest of the cream into a bowl. Set a strainer over it.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture in, whisking all the time, then pour it all back into the saucepan. Stir over medium heat until it thickens and coats your spatula. Pour through the strainer into the cream and stir. Cool over an ice bath and refrigerate until ready to run the ice cream maker. Freeze as directed.
David recommends serving this with a red wine-poached rhubarb compote – I think we shall have to try this when our rhubarb comes up. But we ate it straight and it was sublime.