Last Tuesday I did Matcha Lattes with Soy Milk. Today it’s all about the Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream with Sweet Red Bean. It’s creamy and soft with a definite bite of matcha tea that is tempered with the sweetness of the red bean paste. [This post contains affiliate links]
I always think ice cream is going to be the hardest thing EVER to make. And then I’m always surprised when it is so easy. Like REALLY easy. You might be digging the matcha part put questioning the wisdom of the sweet red bean paste. But trust me, this is a thing. In fact, I will tell you a funny story about the combo.
Lost in Translation: Green and Brown Does Not Equal Mint Chocolate Chip
Near the end of our 3-year stay at Yokata Air Base, we decided to climb Mt. Fuji. I could write on and on about how important the mountain is to Japanese cultural heritage but I’ll just stick to saying TONS of people climb it: Japanese, tourists, young, old, healthy, and the dying.
We traveled there in a big tour bus and did the night hike so that we could watch the sunrise on top of the mountain. But there was a problem. Everyone but my dad and me were experiencing altitude sickness. First my mom and sister Hannah turned around. Then my sister Katy got hit real hard and my dad had to take care of her.
I was devastated but also really stubborn. I wanted to get to the top. So my dad let me go the rest of the way with a couple from our bus. I chugged along pretty good, got to the top, saw the sunrise, and promptly feel asleep on a bench.
For me, the way down the mountain was kind of scary. First, you can see all the steep drop offs you couldn’t when it was pitch dark. And second, almost all the way down you are sliding on red volcanic rock. It is extremely unstable and steep. I got down that mountain on my butt and all by myself.
I was covered in red dust, tired, hungry and thought I deserved a treat by the time I got back to the bus. I grabbed some yen and went to the nearest vending machines for some ice cream.
In Japan, plastic food and picture menus are everywhere, so even when you can’t speak or write a word of Japanese, you can still get a good idea of want you are ordering. And I saw my favorite ice cream: mint chocolate chip. Perfect.
I unwrapped the packaging with shaking hands and took a spoonful. My mouth puckered up and my brows creased in confusion. Not mint chocolate chip. It was matcha green tea ice cream with red bean. It was the worst surprise ever because back then, having an unrefined pallet, I hated matcha.
I’ve smartened up since then and now love matcha but I still always remember how I once thought green + dark brown = mint chocolate chip.
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream with Sweet Red Bean
Most ice cream starts with a simple base of 2 parts heavy cream and 1 part whole milk so I started there. While looking around at recipes, I saw most of them called for 2 to 3 teaspoons of matcha. But then I came across Nami from Just One Cookbook and she used 3 tablespoons. Matcha green tea ice cream in Japan has a sweet but slightly bitter taste to it, so 3 tablespoons goes a long way to getting that flavor.
But her recipe also didn’t use any eggs. American ice creams tend to be a lot creamier than Japanese, and eggs are one of the most crucial ingredients for creating smooth, creamy, and soft ice cream.
I went with three tablespoons matcha but chose to use 3 egg yolks, making the ice cream creamy enough for my American taste buds but not overpowering to the matcha. I think the ratio came out perfect but I do recommend letting the ice cream sit out for 10 minutes before eating (this ensures maximum creaminess and flavor perfection).
Use however much sweet red bean paste that you want. I also drizzled some on top of my scoop. When shopping for the red bean paste, make sure that you buy Koshian (sweet red bean paste, anko, passed through a sieve to remove bean skins, making it a smooth paste).
Enjoy, and maybe have a little fun letting people think they are going to bite into mint chocolate chip.
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream with Sweet Red Bean
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons matcha green tea powder
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 to 1 cup sweet red bean paste you can put in however much you want
Pour 1 cup of the heavy cream in a medium bowl. Add the matcha and whisk until smooth. Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth.
Add the remaining heavy cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and heat on medium, stirring to combine and dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking and stirring often until the mixture begins to thicken and bubble around the edges (about 3 minutes). Make sure it doesn't start to boil though.
Turn the heat to low and measure out one cup of the hot milk mixture and slowly pour it into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly. This is to prevent the eggs from cooking (nobody wants scrambled eggs in their ice cream). Slowly pour the combined egg yolks and milk back to the saucepan, stirring constantly as you do so. Turn heat to medium-low.
Continue cooking until the mixture thickens (about 4 to 5 minutes). To test, dip a wooden spoon in and check to see if you can draw a clear line with your finger. The line should stay as it is and not loose its shape.
Pour into the fine mesh sieve over the reserved heavy cream and matcha and stir together.
Fill a sink with ice and cold water and put the bowl in it, bringing it to room temperature (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Cover and chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.
Place a loaf pan in the freezer. Transfer chilled ice cream to an ice cream maker and follow the directions of the manufacturer (20 minutes for mine).
Once done, quickly transfer 1/3 of the ice cream into the frozen loaf pan. Drizzle with sweet red bean paste. Repeat until you've used up all the ice cream. Use a skewer or spoon handle and drag it back and forth along the top layer, making swirls.
Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. Let the ice cream sit out for 10 minutes before scooping it up.
There is only about 10 minutes of active cook time for this recipe.
I put enough matcha green tea powder in the ice cream to make it tea-like: there is a slightly bitter flavor and you can taste the matcha (I even think you can get a little bit of a caffeine rush from it). If you know this isn’t your thing, reduce the amount of matcha used or add more sweet red bean paste.