DIY Red Bean Ice Cream
It’s always more fun to DIY. Every week on Food52, we’ll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
When it comes to Asian sweets, red bean tends to get a little lost in the shuffle. Between the panoply of sticky sesame dumplings, warm egg custard buns, and lotus paste mooncakes, I tend to neglect red bean.
But combine red bean and ice cream and, suddenly, I have eyes for nothing else. Something about that earthy sweetness and extra bite of texture in a cold, creamy dessert gets me every time.
More: Momofuku’s Pork Buns are the perfect pre-game to your red bean ice cream party.
This homemade version took me a few tries to get right, but it was beyond worth it in the end. The key is not to use a fully mashed, smooth red bean paste like the kind you’ll find in steamed buns or mochi; its granular consistency will break up a custard when dissolved, resulting in an ice cream that crumbles instead of scoops. (I learned this the hard way.)
Instead, I used red beans that were cooked and sweetened but still intact — similar in consistency to the adzuki bean topping commonly used over Korean shaved ice. Fortified with the extra-smooth texture of a Jeni Britton Bauer base, the result is an ice cream that is not at all icy, but rather splendidly fluffy, dreamily scoopable, and studded with red beans. This is easily one of the best ice creams I’ve made (or had!) to date.
For the red bean topping:
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup red beans or adzuki beans
About 2/3 cup sugar (or more or less, according to preference)
For the ice cream:
Makes 1 quart
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 3/4 cups whole milk
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup red bean topping or cooked, sweetened red beans (not paste), with syrup drained and reserved
3 tablespoons reserved red bean syrup
Submerge the red beans in cold water, covering them by at least an inch, and let them soak overnight. The next day, rinse the beans and combine them with two cups of fresh water in a small pot.