A creamy custard base spiked with musky white peppercorns gives this ice cream an addictive balance of sweetness and heat. Based on a dessert served at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Manhattan restaurant JoJo, it first appeared in our November 2013 issue with Josh Ozersky's story Solitary Man.
- 1 3⁄4 cups milk
- 1 1⁄4 cups heavy cream
- 2⁄3 cup sugar
- 1⁄2 tsp. whole white peppercorns, lightly crushed
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 egg yolks
- Roughly chopped tropical fruit, such as banana, kiwi, mango, and pineapple, for serving (optional)
Bring milk, heavy cream, half the sugar, plus peppercorns and salt to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let mixture steep until infused with notes of peppery spice, about 15 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, or a strainer lined with a double-thickness of cheesecloth, into a bowl; discard peppercorns. Wipe saucepan clean and return mixture to pan; bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Whisk remaining sugar with egg yolks in a bowl until thick and smooth. While whisking constantly, slowly pour half of the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture to temper the yolks and keep them from curdling. Stir tempered yolk mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to a custard-like consistency and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 20 minutes. Transfer custard to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Chill custard completely.
Pour chilled custard into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions until custard is churned and thick. Transfer ice cream to an airtight storage container; freeze until completely set, at least 4 hours. Using an ice cream scoop, divide ice cream between serving bowls. Top with a mixture of sliced tropical fruit, such as banana, kiwi, mango, and pineapple, if you like.