Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Pantry-Clearer: Red Bean Ice Cream


My goodness -- Finals season really does take it out of you. That being said, this was a important set of exam and papers here at Burning Pasta, a couple of weeks filled with both satisfaction and big news for the future.

Yes, both the Pasta Burner and I, after several years of working our typing and researching fingers to the bone, are graduating from our University with freshly-minted graduate degrees; hers is a JD, mine is in History.

But wait -- that's not the only exciting news! Yes, after three years of blogging from Philadelphia, we're taking our show on the road, moving permanently to sunny Southern California. The PB will be starting at a law firm, and I'll be adding to the letters after my name with a Juris Doctorate of my own. As a result, we've been busy packing up our lives for the 3,000 mile trip, a task that has precluded me from updating the blog in recent weeks.

We're taking this as a chance to start from scratch, ridding ourselves of almost every ounce of stuff we own. It's proving quite liberating. One of neatest elements of the process is the discovery of long-lost items in the pantry and freezer. You should try it yourself; you'd be shocked at what sort of stuff you'll find back there.

One of the neat things I found in cleaning out the kitchen was a pound of Azuki Beans, the red legumes most commonly found in both Japanese and Chinese desserts. You can find them at almost any health food store or your local Chinatown. Soaked and cooked down with a little brown sugar, they make a wonderfully earthy and sweet paste, perfectly fit for any number of uses. I also happened to have a pint or two of Heavy Cream lying around -- did someone say ice cream?

Red Bean Ice Cream
Serves 6

1 Cup Azuki Beans
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar

2 Cups, less 2 Tablespoons, Heavy Cream
1 Cup Milk
2 Eggs
2 Egg Yolks
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Start by soaking your Cup of beans overnight in cold water. They should become soft. Drain the beans well, and add your brown sugar. Stir to mix.

Using a heavy-bottomed pan, cook your bean/sugar mixture over medium heat, using just a coating of vegetable oil to make sure things don't stick. Using the back of your spatula, smash the beans into a smooth paste; alternatively, use an immersion blender to mix things into a puree. Cook for five to seven minutes, or until the mixture comes to a simmer and darkens.

Set the cooked bean paste to the side so it can cool for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream, milk, eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract well in a bowl until homogenous. Adding it a half-cup at a time, mix the cooled bean paste into the ice cream base.

[Editor's Note: If you're a stickler for very smooth texture, feel free to run the bean paste through a food mill before adding; it will minimize the number of bean skins that make the journey into the final product. Then again, some people dig that kind of thing.]

Place the integrated ice cream base into the refrigerator for no less than one hour, and preferably for four or more. You can even let it rest overnight. A few hours before you're ready to serve it, place the ice cream base into your ice cream maker, and follow the manufacturer's directions for freezing it.

Following the chilling process, place the half-frozen ice cream into a plastic container to continue firming it up for about two to three hours. Serve, and consider using a mint or lemongrass stalk garnish. The final product:

For those of you already addicted to red bean ice cream, consider this a way to get your fix anytime you want it. For the rest of you, welcome to the cult. Give it a try; this would be the perfect thing to serve at say...a graduation party?

That's all for now! As for administrative business, the Pasta Burner and I fly out to warmer climes this week, so there's an outside possibility you'll see a post this weekend. In all likelihood, however, look for us to return on May 29th.

Thanks for your patience, dear reader -- we look forward to having you join us on the next chapter of our journey.


  1. Congrats to PB on getting a job! My fiance and I are both getting our JDs at the end of the month... and neither of us has a job yet. :-/

  2. I love red beans and rice but would never have thought of making red bean ice cream. I've just started making home made ice cream with a White Mountain hand crank machine and the kids think it's awesome.

    If you don't make your own ice cream you should give it a try. Here's an interesting article I found that might be helpful to folks thinking about making their own.

  3. CONGRATS to the both of you!!! See ya in L.A!

  4. perhaps my favorite ice cream, i have an ice cream machine so i'll try this recipe. congratulations!


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