Summer finally sets frozen treats free. The winter-shuttered Italian ice and frozen custard stores throw open their doors; the ice cream trucks hit the streets with their Pied Piper calls. Homemade ice cream is a particular sort of pleasure, somehow more enjoyable for its generosity of spirit, despite the fact that it is difficult to get the same quality of flavor and texture as commercial versions. While recent cookbooks, like Dana Cree’s Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream, can offer tricks and tips to get your homemade treats as close to perfect as conceivable, you are still left with challenges.
First off, most of these recipes will call for curing the ice cream base for at least 24 hours before churning, which requires some serious planning ahead. And most home churning appliances can only make about a quart at a time, which means if you’re planning on serving a crowd, you’re looking at several days of planning and churning to stockpile enough for your party. Not to mention the fact that many people don’t own an ice cream maker to begin with.
Enter the no-churn ice cream. It’s essentially a frozen mousse—no cooking or pre-chilling needed. You make your flavor base, gently fold in whipped cream, pop it in a freezer-safe container and freeze. (Adding a bit of alcohol can help it solidify into a not-too-hard texture.) If you make it in the morning, you can have it after dinner, and there is no limit to the size of the batches you can make, so it’s ideal when you’re having a party.
This version creates a fun and more unusual flavor that I promise is a surprising crowd pleaser. Nutty tahini is an elegant ingredient for desserts, complex enough to make grown-ups happy, and embraced by kids for hitting the same buttons that peanut butter does. The mousse portion is a great one to know, since it requires no cooking and no eggs, and is a surprising filling for a pie, or topping for a cake, or just a simple dessert as is, scooped into bowls and topped with toasted sesame seeds and curls of dark chocolate. But once frozen, it makes for a fantastic ice cream. The nuttiness is perfect for sundaes, holding up to caramel sauce or hot fudge, but is also a great pairing with exotic fruits like mango and passionfruit. Once frozen, it will keep up to a month with a piece of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent ice crystals from forming.
No-Churn Tahini Ice Cream
Makes about 2 quarts
- 3 cups heavy cream + 6 Tbsp. heavy cream
- 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 cup sesame paste (raw tahini)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. dark rum (optional)
In the bowl of your stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with your hand-held electric mixer, place three cups of chilled cream and cream of tartar and begin to beat slowly. As the cream starts to get foamy, increase the speed gradually until it’s on high, and beat until medium peaks are formed. You want a soft, slumpy cream here, not a firm whipped cream. Better to underbeat than overbeat.
If you are using a stand mixer, transfer the whipped cream into a different bowl and put in the fridge to hold, then return the bowl (no cleaning needed) back to the mixer and switch to the paddle attachment. If you are using a hand-mixer, place this bowl into the fridge and get another large bowl.
Add the sesame paste, powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt to your bowl. On low, blend the mixture until it starts to come together, pausing and scraping down the sides if necessary. Once you have a cohesive blend, turn the mixer or your hand mixer to low, and begin to pour in the remaining six tablespoons of cream as slowly as you can manage, dripping it in almost drop by drop to begin, and then working up to a slow, thin stream. Keep your mixer on the lowest setting and be patient here, because if you increase the speed or add too much liquid at once, your mixture will break and once it does, you have to start over.
Once your tahini mixture is fully blended with the cream, stop the mixer and remove the bowl. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the chilled whipped cream a third at a time. You can be a bit vigorous with the first third, using it to lighten up the tahini base, and then much more gentle with the remaining two installments, folding just until there are almost no streaks of white left. Gently fold in the rum until mixed. This will help prevent the ice cream from freezing too solidly; you won’t taste it in the final product and it is not enough alcohol to affect your children, but if you cannot have any alcohol, you can leave it out.
Pour into freezer-safe containers and freeze until solid, which can take between 4-8 hours depending on your freezer. Leave at room temperature for about 10 minutes to soften slightly before serving.
If you like, you can add mix-ins once the mousse is combined; some great flavors are dark chocolate shards, or chunks of chopped halvah candy.
This also makes for a great ice-cream cake: Bake a one-layer chocolate cake and when cooled, split the layer in half. Place the first layer on the bottom of a springform pan, then spread a layer of the tahini mousse, then top with the second layer of cake. Freeze until firm then cover with a chocolate ganache glaze or frost with the buttercream of your choice and refreeze. Take out of the freezer 30 minutes before serving.