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xin nian quai le

Recipe: red bean ice cream

Gong Xi Fa Tsai! Xin Nian Quai Le. Wung Shir Rui.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! Congratulations, good fortune to you, and may you receive all your heart desires. More than any other day of the year, on this day I feel so much good will toward people. Remembrance for the ancestors and loved ones who are no longer here with us. Love for the wonderful people in my life. Gratitude for this life. The big party is done and the house is clean. Our refrigerator is stocked to the hilt with leftovers. It’s a good day. I have every intention of making it a good year too. How about it?

celebrating the new year with friends

When I started celebrating the lunar new year on my own (in college) it was usually Chinese take out for dinner. Slowly, over the years, I learned to make the various dishes that my family typically celebrates with on the eve of the new year. It has grown on me. The longer I have been away from home, the stronger my ties to my culture and the cuisine (it’s almost ALL about the food, yo) have become. My parents, my grandma, my aunts – they all put on their own feasts. My sister used to call me on Chinese New Year’s Eve on her way home from work and ask what she could whip together for dinner because she wanted my nephew to learn the traditions of our family, our culture. Kris was not a cook like the rest of my family, but passing on this celebration to little Benjamin was important to her. I miss those calls.

These days, I try to make a point of sharing the feast with friends. The more people you have, the more dishes you can serve! Plus, I am often heard (loudly) bemoaning the utter lack of decent Chinese food in these parts of Colorado so much that Chinese New Year is the right time to step up to the plate and show people what I mean when I say real Chinese food. Each year I expand the repertoire by a recipe or two. Last night, while cooking for a dozen people, it became painfully clear to me why my parents have outdoors burners with enough BTUs to launch a rocket. Still, I think we all had a good time.

lucky ten ingredient vegetables (everything your heart desires)

my favorite bean sprouts (money)

Here’s what was on the menu:

shrimp toast
cellophane noodle soup
lucky ten ingredient vegetable
stir fried soybean sprouts
sautéed chinese barbecue beef with chinese broccoli
kung pao chicken
steamed brown rice
lemon tart
chocolate mousse
green tea matcha ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream
coffee ice cream
red bean ice cream

chocolate mousse shots

kaweah snuggles up with nichole while everyone plays on the nintendo wii

Of course, while I am okay with traditional Chinese desserts, I’m not a huge fan. I tend to prefer to end these big celebratory meals with more westernized desserts. However, there is nothing quite so lovely as the marriage of Asian flavors and western-style sweets. Two of my favorites are green tea ice cream and red bean ice cream. With all of the egg whites I’ve been using in baking lately, I had plenty of egg yolks left over. So ice cream was a no brainer.

sweetened red beans

i made it part paste

I hadn’t realized that I had bought a can of the mostly intact beans. The usual paste I purchase is deep and dark in color. Since I needed paste for the recipe, I pulsed mine in the food processor and it came out a little more pale than usual. I left about a quarter of it whole beans since I like the occasional red bean in my ice cream.

yolks and sugar

beaten until pale yellow

This recipe comes together slightly differently from what I’m used to for most ice creams (that’s because I use The Lebovitz as my guide for all things ice cream). I think the texture might come out creamier without whisking the eggs and sugar together first. Or maybe the texture is just a tad less creamy because of the bean purée.

whisk in hot milk

strain the custard

The original recipe strains the ice cream after adding the red bean paste which I changed because it would have strained out all of my whole beans. I love ice creams that are smooth as much as ice creams that are chunky or full of stuff. Ice cream is just one of those happy desserts that makes the world smile.

mix in the red beans

add the cream

Traditionally, we eat the red beans in a hot, sweet soup with goodies like bits of taro root or tapioca added. I’ve also had them on shaved ice with sweetened condensed milk and sweet boiled peanuts. Red bean ice cream is just another way to love the red bean. And since Chinese New Year is also Valentine’s Day – let’s share the love.

happy new year!

Red Bean Ice Cream
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Recipe Zaar

1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups red bean paste (I like 1 cup paste, 1/2 cup semi-whole beans)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a medium bowl until pale yellow. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk into the egg mixture and scrape back into the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat with a whisk until the custard thickens (about 5 minutes) making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Strain the custard into a clean bowl. Mix in the red bean paste and then stir in the cream. Cover and refrigerate completely before churning in your ice cream machine. Makes about a quart.

48 nibbles at “xin nian quai le”

  1. Tony says:

    if this ice cream is anything like the red bean buns that I’m addicted to, I have to give it a try.
    btw, I made sure to eat yogurt with honey and mixed berries this morning so this Tiger year will be the sweetest one yet :D

  2. Kathy says:

    Happy New Year, Jen!

  3. Phoo-D says:

    What a fun party! It looks like you cooked your brains out. I love your final shot with the beans – gorgeous. Happy New Year!

  4. jie says:

    Happy the Year of Tiger
    Xin Nian Kuai Le!! <3

  5. barbara says:

    I have never celebrated a Chinese New Year but after reading a little about it this year it seems to have more purpose than our Christmas. I wonder if I could convince my family to change our focus. Probably not.

    I hope you have a wonderful year ahead Jen.

  6. Amy says:

    What a par-tay! I wanna come next year! :)
    Happy New Year to you and yours!

  7. Donna says:

    A very happy new year to you.

  8. Bethany says:

    No WAY!!! Red bean ice cream is my absolute favorite!!! I’ve never even made ice cream before, but since reading David Lebovitz’s method, I feel I have no excuse, and this might just give me the right incentive to try!

    Happy New Year — looks like you celebrated right!

  9. Joyce says:

    新年快乐, 恭喜发财, 万事如意!

    Looks like it was a great party!

  10. Sarah says:

    I’ve never heard if red bean icecream before. Or indeed red beans to mean something other than kidney beans. Off I go to do some googling! Fascinating!

  11. Fiona says:

    Happy New Year!

    Like Bethany, red beans are my favorite. I love them in anything (they were my first dim sum addiction, in steamed buns), but especially in ice cream. And there’s nothing wrong with texture in ice cream. Sometimes creamy ice creams can feel a little like frozen butter to me (in a bad way).

    Looks like a great party, esp. if one gets to cuddle Kaweah after.

  12. Manisha says:

    Happy New Year, Jen!

  13. Abby says:

    Happy New Year!

  14. Susan @ SGCC says:

    Happy Chinese New Year to you, Jen! I wish you much health, wealth and happiness. I hope all your dreams come true. (And if they don’t, you’ll probably beat the crap out of them!)

    What a wonderful feast! It reminds me of our big Italian holiday dinners. Now, that all the kids are growing up, we don’t do as much anymore. You’ve inspired me to go all out next time.


  15. Memoria says:

    Xin Nian Kuai Le!! Happy Valentine’s Day! That mousse looks amazing.

  16. Nicole says:

    Oh wow! red bean ice cream is my sister and my favorite ice cream. it always remind us of our childhood when we were kids we get to buy red bean ice drop, it’s cheap and yummy. rightly fits in our allowance.
    I would love to try this. Can I use whole red bean in syrup and just puree it?

  17. Nicole says:

    forgot to ask. didn’t the whole red bean get smushed up in the churning processes?

  18. Mrs Ergül says:

    Wow you cooked for a dozen folks! Good on ya Jen! That must have been a lovely feast to be invited to! Xin nian kuai le! Wan shi ru yi!

  19. Esther says:

    Aw man, I want an ice cream maker :)

  20. Jill says:

    Happy New Year….what a lovely feast!

  21. Debbie says:

    Happy New Year to you Jen!!

  22. YDavis says:

    Red bean ice cream – my favorite!

  23. Ruth Ann says:

    Gong Xi Fa Tsai! Feast looks amazing! Wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year of the tiger!

  24. Travis says:

    Red bean ice cream: best thing ever.

  25. diva says:

    I definitely agree with you on Asian flavours and Western desserts. Quite a marriage. I want some of that ice cream now! :)

  26. ska says:

    Happy New Year of the Tiger!
    I love red bean ice cream and will have to attempt to make it.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  27. lily ng says:

    happy chinese new year

  28. Lori says:

    I would like to cuddle with Kaweah and a bowl of this ice cream. Or would there be sweet puppy dog eyes eyeing me for some ice cream. Ahhh, how cute is he!

    Happy Chinese New Year!

  29. Caitlin says:

    Wow, that menu sounds amazing! And requiring all the BTUs your parents have – I could only imagine doing that in my little apartment… I need to get some guts and try more Asian flavors in my desserts – this ice cream sounds wonderful!

  30. Asianmommy says:

    Happy New Year! Looks like a wonderful feast.

  31. Alexsandra says:

    I simply want to say…..I LOVE YOU!

    No matter what hoopla is rolling around in my life, I can come here have a few chuckles, see some lovely seasonal terrain, a cuddly doggy and leave relaxed and in a better mood! Thank you Dr. Jenny! Happiest and Healthiest of New Years to you and your family.

  32. Manggy says:

    For some reason I have difficulty finding red bean paste on the shelves here even though there is such a huge (uh… almost everyone) Asian community here. Must keep looking – I keep getting more and more jealous when I see these lovely bean-based desserts!

  33. farmerpam says:

    Enough BTU’s to launch a rocket…………, very funny! Happy New Year!

  34. Marisa says:

    Happy New Year! Your spread looks amazing! Never had sweet red beans before – very intriguing. *off to go check out all the recipes*

  35. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Gong Xi Fa Cai Jen. What a feast. Love the red bean ice cream, haven’t had it for a long time, and it’s so perfect with CNY. :)

  36. Tartelette says:

    Glad you had such a great Chinese New Year! Friends, great food, games…awesome :)
    I hope that one day I get to spend that time with you – would love to hear more of the traditions and stories you grew up with. It’s always fascinating to me.
    The red bean ice cram sounds deliciously tempting!
    Miss K is just too cute!

  37. kim says:

    Happy Lunar New Year! I love red bean and matcha ice cream. Do you purposely refrain from using an ice-cream machine?

  38. Steph says:

    You are absolutely amazing! My mom will LOVE this when I make it for her – and it’s definitely a matter of “when,” because this looks so ridiculously good. She loves red bean ice cream.

  39. Diane and Todd says:

    happy new year!! Wow, what an awesome looking gathering and everyone looks like such great people too. How lucky they are. You must be tired making that huge celebratory feast!
    Dying for some of those sprouts right now, and the chocolate mousse and the ice cream. Love the red bean ice cream, gotta try that sometime! Love red beans in almost anything.
    We didn’t get to enjoy much of New Year this year, it fell on Valentines and we worked. But next year fo sho fun!

  40. Bing says:

    I think I’m a bit old to still be saying this, but it’s fun anyways: “Hong Bao Na Lai!”

  41. Kevin says:

    Red bean ice cream is so good!

  42. jenyu says:

    Thanks everyone for the new year’s wishes! Hope you all have a great Tiger of a year.

    Tony – yes, this is the same red bean as you find in the steamed buns. Mmmmm!

    Barbara – you too, my dear :)

    Bethany – once you make your own (especially using David’s base recipe) you will have a hard time going back to store-bought ice cream!

    Fiona – oh, I think Kaweah would have to agree with that assessment! ;)

    Susan @SGCC – I hope you do go all out next time and blog it for us to see how you do your celebration. That would be *awesome* xo

    Nicole – yes, I think you can. I’m curious to try it with the red bean paste (I’m guessing it will be darker). The whole beans were still in tact :) I like chomping on them.

    Lori – she would DEFINITELY be working the puppy eyes. Then she’s rest her head on your lap and make little grunting noises until you fed her ;)

    Alexsandra – you’re very sweet – thank you :)

    Manggy – if you can’t find it, let me know and I’ll ship you some!

    Tartelette – yeah, and if the food symbolism means *anything* then after having new year’s eve dinner with us, you’ll be rolling in dough ($ or pastry – take your pick) for the rest of the year ;) ha ha ha!

    kim – I use an ice cream machine for all of my ice creams. It says so in the recipe.

    Diane & Todd – You guys need to come out this way for a proper Chinese New Year feast :)

    Bing – my parents sent me a hong bao!

  43. jillian says:

    I spent my last semester of college in China and at soo much red (and green) bean ice cream. I love it! Have happy new year!

  44. Nate says:

    Mmm, red bean ice cream is the bomb! I like mine chunky as well.

    Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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