Azuki Red Bean Ice Cream & Ice Pops

If you are wondering what kind of ice cream this is, it is made of sweetened red bean paste that is typical in Japan.  Between you and me, the only Japanese ice cream that I am familiar with is the green tea ice cream.  As much as I love Japanese food, I realized how much I don't know about this magnificent cuisine after I discovered Nami's blog called Just One Cookbook.   I have been eating in Japanese restaurants all my life and after I browsed her recipes, I admitted to myself that I know only an iota of this big culinary world.  If I need anything Japanese and if you do too, just jump right here to go to her blog and enter the world of Japanese home cooking.  You can find the recipes all documented with detailed photographs.   And there, I found this red bean ice cream recipe.

When I took out my ice cream maker from its hibernation, this was planned ice cream number 2 after the gelato al cioccolato e amarena (chocolate & amarena ice cream) of my kids. The taste of sweetened red beans in a frozen treat is not really new to me because growing up in the Philippines, I used to spend all my money on ice pops made of coconut & beans called ice buko with monggo that I found at Jun-Blog

But to have the ice cream made exclusively of sweetened red bean paste was not the same as the ice pops I was crazy about.  Drizzled with black sesame seeds and perfumed with fresh mint leaves made it more delectable.  If you like Asian treats with sweetened beans, then this is a different kind of frozen experience.  If, on the other hand, you are not a keen sweetened bean eater, like the rest of my family, then maybe a spoonful to satisfy that curiosity? 

For the red bean paste, it is possible to use commercially available canned ones called Ogura-an.  For those unfortunate people like me who don't have access to this paste, then you will have to make the bean paste on your own.  Nami has a detailed procedure in preparing it using azuki beans and you can see it here.  I didn't realize that she has this recipe at her blog so I opted for Jun's sweetened azuki beans and just mashed them simply with an immersion blender. 

I loved the outcome but maybe the next time that I prepare this, I will go for the real Japanese procedure.  It needs more attention to details but I am sure it will be all worth the effort. 

For these ice pops, I used almond milk instead of coconut juice because it is quite hard for me to find here.  The prevalent flavor of the azuki beans covered the almond milk anyway so it didn't make so much difference.  One bite and again, like all the food I had been recreating the past weeks, I was transported back to being a child.  A little child, because these ice pops slowly disappeared from the stores when I was growing up until I completely forgot all about them.   It's amazing to revisit childhood memories through food.  Sigh. Maybe for that reason, I love cooking old flavors.  It's life's memories that push me to stay rooted in the kitchen.    

I hope you enjoyed my dessert series.  This concludes the "6 desserts in one day marathon" I had the other day.  I have some savory summer treats waiting to be posted.   I can't wait to share them with you.   Hoping you are all having a good week.   A presto!

Azuki Red Bean Ice Cream

Original Red Bean Ice Cream recipe from Nami's Just One Cookbook (with detailed photographs). 

Serves 6 - 8
  • 100 ml. water
  • 100 ml. sugar
  • 1 (18.34 oz. / 520 g. / 2 cups) canned sweetened mashed red beans or Ogura-an.  (Since I cannot find the canned ones, I did my own red bean paste with Azuki beans.  Recipe below.  If you want the proper Japanese way to do this, refer to Just One Cookbook's red bean paste or anko recipe with detailed photographs.)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 4 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat water and sugar on medium high heat, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon.  
  2. When sugar has completely melted, add the bean paste and mix until the mixture becomes smooth. 
  3. Add the milk and mix all together. When it boils, remove the saucepan from the heat.  
  4. Prepare a bowl that is set inside a large bowl filled with iced water. 
  5. Pour the mixture into the bowl and stir the mixture so it cools evenly.
  6. When the mixture is thoroughly cooled, pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Churn for about 30 minutes.
  7. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and store in the freezer for at least 3-4 hours.  
  8. Serve with black sesame seeds or condensed milk.

Mashed Red Beans

Referred to the Sweetened Azuki Beans recipe of Jun of Jun-BlogJust One Cookbook has the proper Japanese way of attaining this paste called Anko.

Yields about 2 cups
  • 1 cup azuki beans
  • 2 cups water (In the original recipe, the ratio is 3 cups of water to 1 cup of beans.  I lessened it to 2 cups.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  1.  Soak the beans in three cups of water or three times as much water as beans. Leave the beans soaked overnight and drain them the following day.  Rinse again after draining.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, add the soaked beans, water, and sugar. 
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until tender, 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.  
  4. Add salt before a few minutes before turning off the fire.
  5. Mash the beans using an immersion blender.  For the ice pops, I left the beans whole. 

Red Beans & Almond Ice Pops

Inspired by the Ice Buko with Monggo recipe of Jun of Jun-Blog.

Makes 12 to 16 ice pops, depending on your mold
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup cream (I used the light one.)
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened azuki beans
  1. Put the almond milk, condensed milk and cream in a bowl and stir well to combine.
  2. Put 1 tablespoon of sweetened azuki beans in each mold. Divide the mixture among the molds. 
  3. Pour the almond milk mixture in each mold. 
  4. If using glasses or cups, freeze until the pops are beginning to set, about 2 hours, then insert the sticks and freeze until solid. (If using conventional molds, snap the lids and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.)