Fresh Ginger Ice Cream

This is the “house special dessert” at China Moon, a refreshing spicy ice cream made from an infusion of fresh ginger. It involves making a custard base—something you may not have done before—but rest assured it is an easy process and the results are fabulous.

This is one ice cream formula I’ve not reduced to a “light” ice cream. The flavor is so superb, I’ve never wanted to toy with it.


  • cup water
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ packed cup very finely minced, puréed, or grated ginger
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • About 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Combine the water and ¼ cup of the sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a steaming near-simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the ginger, stir to blend, then bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a weak simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
  2. In a larger heavy saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the milk. Bring to a near-simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, then carefully scrape the sugar syrup into the milk mixture. Stir to combine, cover the pot to hold in the heat, and set the mixture aside to steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Briskly beat the egg yolks with the remaining ¼ cup sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow and falls in wide ribbons from the whisk.
  4. Place the heavy cream in a large bowl and nest in a larger bowl of ice. Place a fine-mesh sieve alongside.
  5. When the steeping time is up, return the milk mixture to scalding, stirring as it heats. Slowly drizzle about ¼ cup of the hot milk into the beaten eggs, whisking as you pour. Immediately scrape the tempered egg mixture into the hot milk, whisking to combine. Cook over moderate heat, whisking slowly, until it reaches the custard stage, 180°F on an instant-read thermometer; it will be thick enough to coat and cling to the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t let the milk boil or you’ll wind up with scrambled eggs.
  6. Immediately pour the hot custard through the sieve into the chilled cream. Press down on the trapped ginger to extract every drop of liquid, then scrape the bottom of the sieve clean. Discard the ginger.
  7. Let the custard cool completely, stirring occasionally. Once cool, it may be refrigerated for a day or two before freezing. Don’t worry if the mixture separates; simply stir to recombine.
  8. Just before freezing, adjust the mixture with the lemon juice, adding it in drops until the flavor peaks perceptibly on the tongue.
  9. Freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Store the ice cream with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface. Let soften slightly before serving.

Serving Suggestions: I’ve eaten vatfuls of this ice cream in the nude (both me and the ice cream), and it needs no garnish to be delicious. However, Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce was literally made for it; the yin-yang contrast of hot and cool is stunning. Fresh strawberries and/or Cappuccino Coins are other worthy counterpoints.