The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz (10 Speed Pres, 2007) is possibly my favorite ice-cream book ever. It has normal sorts of ice cream like vanilla and chocolate and butterscotch pecan. But it also has orange-szechwan pepper and avocado and prune-Armagnac ice cream. Best of all, these recipes work. This adaptation of Lebovitz's pepper ice cream recipe makes just 2 cups, but that's OK because it's good in small quantities. Lebovitz recommends serving it alongside cold melon in lime syrup, which sounds just fine. However, my batch was gone too fast to try.
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream, divided
3 large egg yolks
Warm the milk, sugar, peppercorns, salt and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Rewarm the peppercorn-infused mixture. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer, pressing the peppercorns gently to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the peppercorns and stir the custard into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.