Ice cream may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a holiday season dessert, but that doesn’t mean it can’t fit right in. Made with the floral and slightly mouth-numbing Szechuan peppercorns, this ice cream feels cozy, despite its temperature. Also called Sichuan peppercorns or Sansho peppers, these are actually a berry and often used to a zing to spicy food while having a slight anesthetic effect on the tongue, but the fragrant aspect of it has always led me to think a Szechuan peppercorn dessert would be perfect.
It finally stopped snowing here and has been pouring rain as I write this, inspiring me to make sure the dish is as festive as possible by creating an edible bowl. Following the Szechuan peppercorns back to their origins, I arranged a Chinese-style ice cream cone.
Once, on Iron Chef (America, maybe?) I saw Morimoto fry something (a fish, maybe?), not by dunking the fish in the hot oil, but by pouring the oil over the item, so that it would keep the shape he wanted it in. I feebly tried to imitate him and it actually worked very well. I pressed a wonton wrapper into a small sauce serving dish and ladled the hot oil over it until the wrapper bubbled up and held its shape. I, however, unlike Morimoto, managed to avoid dumping the oil all over my hands. Once done frying, I sprinkled the wrapper lightly with sugar and left it to cool before filling it with the Szechuan peppercorn ice cream.
Szechuan Peppercorn Ice Cream
1/4 Cup Szechuan Peppercorns
2/3 Cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 Tablespoons of flour (all-purpose)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 Cups half and half
1 Cup heavy cream
Crush the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until the husks fall away and the inner berry has been turned to dust. If you’ve never used them before, just start crushing, I promise you’ll see what I mean when you do. Pass them through a strainer and reserve the dust. Whisk the egg with the peppercorn dust, the sugar, the salt and the flour together in a mixing bowl. Heat the half and half over medium heat until hot. Starting with spoonfuls, whisk the half and half very slowly into the egg mixture. Once completely incorporated, put back into the pot over low heat until it thickens a little. If any of your egg cooked, be sure to strain out the chunks before continuing. Put the mixing bowl, with the cream in it, over an ice bath and slowly whisk in the hot custard mixture. Chill in the refrigerator overnight then do the ice cream maker thing.