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Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 12-13, 2010: Orange-Szechuan pepper icecream

Not having made dumpling skins before, I anticipated that Michael's Chinese New Year potluck preparation would be a bit of a challenge (though I didn't imagine quite the debacle it became!). I figured that if I was going to supply something sweet it'd best be made in advance - a perfect excuse for icecream. I know icecream's not exactly traditional CNY fare but there's this funny-looking orange-Szechuan pepper recipe in David Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop that I thought would make a nice twist on the theme.

Of course, it being a David Lebovitz recipe, it was chock full of eggs and dairy and involved lots of pans. I shrank down the steps, using creamy soy cooking milk (analogous to evaporated cows' milk) and some arrowroot as a thickener. This no doubt changed the taste and texture of my icecream but not to its detriment - the orange and Szechuan peppers were certainly bold enough to mask the soy. They're so bold that a little scoop of this icecream is more than enough. The orange hits you straight up with its sweetness, acidity and a little bitterness before the pepper is unleashed in the back of your throat. It's quite the palate cleanser!

Orange-Szechuan pepper icecream
(inspired by a recipe in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

2 x 375 mL cans creamy soy cooking milk
3 tablespoons Szechuan peppers
zest of 6 small oranges
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons arrowroot

In a medium saucepan, stir together 1 can of the milk, the peppers, orange zest and sugar. Continue stirring the mixture over low-medium heat until the mixture is hot and the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the arrowroot, take the mixture off the heat and rest it at room temperature for an hour so the flavours can infuse.

Strain the mixture into a bowl - I used a fine sieve lined with muslin to squeeze through as much liquid as possible. Whisk in the second can of milk and refrigerate the mixture until very cold. Churn and freeze it using an icecream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.


  1. wah? szechuan and orange I understand. but in a ice cream? I have yet to try.

  2. I LOVE pepper in icecream! I used to work at Belconnnen markets in Canberra, oh, a million years ago, and there was an ice-cream making class where one of the flavours was strawberry and black pepper. It was INCREADIBLE and I've never gotten over it.

  3. I kind of love that you're able to just take Davd's flavour idea but completely make your own recipe! I bow down to your skill and awesomeness. (Even though I'm not a fan of orange, myself. Am thinking lime and szechuan, maybe?)

    Also, Gretel: Hurrah for mentioning Canberra! :P There's a canberran chocolate maker who does a strawberry and szechuan pepper bar :)

  4. I'm not a fan of pepper but orange ice cream does sound really good!

  5. I was sorry only to get a tiny taste before I left as it seemed great - better than I usually find ice cream - and I would have liked to try more

  6. Thanks, Vicki!

    Penny, David Lebovitz seems willing to chuck just about anything into icecream, with impressive results. I'm looking for an excuse to try his pear-pecorino icecream...!

    Welcome, Gretel! I've heard that strawberries and pepper are a good combo, but have yet to try it. I do not eat enough strawberries.

    Hey, thanks Hannah! I'm a long way from perfecting the Lebovitz texture but having friends with various dietary requirements is a good motivation for experimenting. :-)

    Mandee, I'd like to make an orange icecream that uses the juice as well as the zest... I'm just not sure about the curdling issues. Something to try in the future!

    Thanks, Johanna. :-)