I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! (Even when we’re weeping.)

My 33rd birthday is coming up. A few weeks ago my mother, a salt & pepper-haired woman fast approaching her 60s, looked at my hair and said, “You have as much white hair as I do.”


“In the back there, I see a lot of white hairs.”

Azuki bean ice cream“NO YOU DON’T.”

“Yes I—”


“I am?”



After checking my hair with one handstand, two mirrors, three lights, and four back flips, I can firmly state that my mother is a dirty rotten liar. She just loves to get my goat, but goat meat is a future post. For now, let’s talk about ice cream.

Weather bad? Life in the toilet? Dirty rotten lying parents got you down? Ice cream will soothe the pain. You never outgrow ice cream, especially this one. Unlike most frozen desserts that melt into a chilling puddle, velvety azuki bean ice cream coats your tongue in an insulating blanket of sweetness that practically inoculates your body against the cold. If there’s an ideal ice cream to eat on a cold winter day made even colder by your mother stabbing you in the back with the cruel icicles of filthy lies, this would be it.

Sweetened azuki beans, known as pat in Korean and misleadingly called red beans, is used to fill tteok or mochi, stuff steamed buns, and top shave ice and ice cream throughout Asia and Hawaii. Koreans enjoy shave ice topped with pat in a treat they call pat bing su. If the idea of cold sweet beans doesn’t appeal to you, try a pat ice cream bar from an Asian grocer. It may take more than one try before the grainy texture and earthy sweetness grow on you. Soon, however, you’ll try another one, crave another one, and eventually buy a whole box because you’ll be hopelessly, happily addicted. Then you’ll come back here, make this ice cream, and thank me and my lustrous ebony hair for posting this recipe.

Adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein
Makes about 1 1/4 quarts

The original recipe calls for two cups of red bean paste. To make life easier, I use the whole container, whether it’s a 14-ounce can or a 17-ounce packet (I slightly prefer the flavor of the beans in the packets). I noticed no texture difference either way.

· 2 1/2 cups half and half
· 3 large egg yolks
· 1/2 cup white sugar
· 1/4 teaspoon salt
· 1 14-oz can or 1 17-oz packet of smooth sweetened azuki (red) bean paste
· 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional but strongly recommended
· 1/2 cup sliced toasted almonds, optional

Bring half and half to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, beat egg yolks in a heavy medium bowl with the sugar and salt until the mixture is thick and lemon-colored. Slowly, whisking the whole time, pour the hot half and half into the yolk mixture to temper it. Once most of the half and half is beaten into the yolks, pour the contents of the bowl into the pot with the remaining half and half and whisk continuously over low heat until the mixture thickens slightly or reaches 170 degrees. Don’t let this mixture boil or it may curdle. Remove from heat and stir in red bean paste and almond extract. Stir well until beans are dissolved. Strain the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a container. Cover and chill at least four hours or, better yet, overnight.

Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker until ice cream is thick and increased in volume. Add the sliced almonds in the last few minutes of mixing. Thoroughly incorporate. Eat fresh or freeze.

12 thoughts on “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! (Even when we’re weeping.)

  1. We absolutely are addicted to ice cream mochi. I’ve never had red bean ice cream but I bet I would like it. I love black sesame ice cream. Nevermind about the hair. Wait until you can’t take it anymore and then just color it. Mine would be totally white if it weren’t for the magic bottle.

  2. Reading your post makes me really want to get out the ice cream maker and start making some interesting ice cream flavors. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Just wondering if you’ve ever cooked azuki beans? I am, literally, a continent away from the nearest Asian grocery store, but strangely enough, I do have a 1kg bag of azuki beans. And I am dying to make manju! Anyway, if you have any tips on actually cooking azuki beans, I’d appreciate it. FAB blog!

  4. Hi Annie,
    I too love making my own Ice Cream. I love controlling the sweetnes, richness, texure and flavours. Even better, my partner & myself love consuming the end results! I can’t wait to make almond ice cream this weekend.

  5. Vanessa: Black sesame ice cream sounds terrific, especially since it’s black like my hair.

    Erielle: Go nuts! Unless you don’t like nuts.

    poppy: Thanks! I have never made the beans but looking around it appears that you simply cook them until soft, drain, puree, then add sugar until it tastes just right.

    Paul: Fresh ice cream is a pure treat. Hope the almond comes out awesome.

  6. Don’t fret about your hair, Vanessa has it right y’know. The magic bottle saves us all. Both my parents went gray pre-maturely and so did I, at the tender age of 24. Thank the color gods for their magic!! No one guesses my age at all due to a great colorist.

    That ice cream…..whooo boy, it looks divine. We don’t have an ice cream maker just for the fact that if we did we would all be MUCH bigger! I will live vicariously through you.

  7. Hah – mothers are good that way :P As for the ice cream, I think I really really need to make this as my pa would love it! He loves red bean/azuki flavoured anything!

  8. Kate: Thanks! I don’t fret about my hair because it’s pure black and aaaaalways will be. As for the ice cream, I only make it a few times a year because of the big problem too.

    poppy: I hope it helps!

    Ellie: My best to your pa’s palate!

  9. Happy upcoming birthday! I offer up myself to make you feel better by comparison- I’m a few years shy of 30 and I already have a freakish amout of gray hair. Don’t you feel much better now? ;-)
    Your ice cream looks sumptuous- I always like red bean desserts.

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