These egg-free tahini ice cream pops are covered in a crunchy semi-sweet chocolate shell. They're the perfect mini-size for a snack, and pretty easy to make too. If you don't have silicone ice cream molds, you can also just enjoy this tahini ice cream plain with a drizzle of chocolate shell on top!
What I love most about tahini ice cream is that it has everything I want to like about peanut butter ice cream without that dense, heavy feeling I get when I eat actual peanut butter ice cream. No hate to pb ice cream, of course, but peanut butter ice cream always feels super filling, like I'm eating a scoop of peanut butter right from the jar. And there's nothing wrong with that — but if that's what I wanted, I'd just... do that. It's just not what I'm looking for when I'm picking ice cream flavors.
Tahini, which is basically a nut butter made from sesame seeds, has that great nutty flavor I want from peanut butter ice cream but is lighter and more subtle, making it feel refreshing on hot and sweaty summer days.
I've been wanting to make a tahini ice cream ever since I had a halva ice cream on a trip to Poland a few years ago. Halva is a candy made from tahini and the sesame flavor was so so good in ice cream. Instead of going the halva route here, I decided to stick with a plain tahini ice cream, shape it into silicone ice pop molds, and cover it in a thin chocolate shell which pairs so nicely with the nutty tahini flavor.
If you like peanut butter ice cream, I think you'll really like tahini ice cream. But if you don't like peanut butter ice cream, I think tahini ice cream might still be right up your alley. Especially these tahini ice cream pops covered in chocolate shell — because who can resist chocolate shell?
how to make tahini ice cream
The process for making tahini ice cream is really similar to the process for making a standard creme anglaise ice cream base. Only, because tahini is made from sesame seed paste and oil (aka fat), I experimented with omitting the use of egg yolks (also fat) here and was shocked and delighted to find that it worked beautifully with zero egg yolks.
Because you don't need to bring the eggs up to a certain temperature or worry about the eggs scrambling if they get too hot, this is a really easy ice cream base to make. You do still need to warm everything up, but that's just to help dissolve the sugar crystals so you end up with a smooth and creamy ice cream base.
Instead of scalding the milk and cream separately, then tempering it into a mixture of tahini and sugar, it's easiest to combine the tahini and sugar in a heat-safe bowl with a spatula (don't use a whisk, you'll regret it), then pop the bowl on top of a double boiler use a whisk to gradually add the milk and cream.
The double boiler helps bring the temperature up without risking accidentally boiling the milk and cream. It's a gentle heat that just helps everything loosen up and mix together without any lumps. Once the sugar crystals have dissolved, transfer the ice cream base to the fridge and let it chill for at least 3 hours (ideally overnight) before churning it.
how to make magic chocolate shell
Making magic chocolate shell is so stupidly easy, I promise you can do this. Chop up the chocolate (I like semi-sweet here) and put it in a heat-safe bowl with a bit of coconut oil. Put the bowl on top of a double boiler (more on this below) and stir as it melts and becomes smooth. Transfer it to a tall, narrow dipping container and let it cool slightly so it doesn't melt the ice cream when you dip it. That's literally the whole recipe.
it's a double double boiler recipe
Yep, you're using a double boiler two times in this recipe! Getting comfortable using a double boiler is one of the most useful things you can do in the kitchen so of course we're doing it twice. You can buy pots that are designed to be double boilers, but it's just as easy to make one yourself by filling a pot with about an inch of water, bringing it to a boil, reducing to a simmer and popping a heat-safe bowl over top.
When it comes to melting chocolate, one of the most useful things I learned in pastry school is that you don't actually need super high heat to get it to melt. Bring the water to a boil (that's when steam is released), pop your bowl over the mouth of the pot (making sure that the bottom of the bowl isn't touching the water), and turn off the burner. The residual heat from the water under the bowl will be more than enough to melt a small amount of chocolate, which is all we're doing here.
Double boiler tips:
- Make sure you're using a bowl that is bigger than the mouth of the pot. You don't want it to fit perfectly into the opening and not be able to get it out without having to stick your fingers between the pot and the rim of the bowl.
- You may want to keep a kitchen towel in your hand to hold the bowl in place while you whisk. The bowl can end up getting quite hot all the way up to the rim and if it shifts on top of the pot the steam that comes out is hot. Be careful!
using silicone ice cream pop molds
Making these tahini ice cream pops was the first time I used silicone ice pop molds and there's a bit of a learning curve to getting them to work just right. If at any point you feel like you're doing it wrong, just know you probably aren't. The silicone is very flexible, so just be confident and unafraid (they can sense fear). Show them who's boss (you're the boss) and get them into the freezer asap once they're filled.
As with all things ice cream, working quickly is important. Arrange the silicone molds on a sheet pan and make sure you have room for it in the freezer while the ice cream churns. As soon as the ice cream finishes churning, you'll want to use a spatula and mini offset spatula to scoop the still-soft ice cream into the molds. Use the mini offset spatula to make sure you're pressing the ice cream down into all the corners and not trapping any air bubbles. Then run it across the surface of the mold to scrape any excess ice cream off.
When you push the popsicle sticks into the molds, you'll end up smooshing the ice cream a bit, so use the offset to smooth everything out again once the popsicle sticks are in. Immediately pop that tray on the sheet pan in the freezer while you fill the remaining molds.
Don't worry if you do end up with bubbles or small air pockets on the ice cream pops when you unmold them — the chocolate shell hides most of that stuff anyway!
a few quick recipe notes
- Give your tahini a really good stir before you use it. Like peanut butter, there's often a bit of natural separation between the oil and the sesame seed paste. You definitely want the fat from the oil in your ice cream base, so give it a good stir to make sure it's well emulsified before you measure the tahini.
- A great tip I picked up from Erin over at Cloudy Kitchen is to remove the ice cream pops from the molds and put them back on the sheet pan (lined with a silicone mat or wax paper) in the freezer while you make the chocolate shell. The ice cream will start warming up when you remove them from the molds so this makes sure the ice cream is super cold when you dip it in the shell.
- To make dipping the tahini ice cream pops in the chocolate shell as easy and mess-free as possible, put the chocolate shell in a tall narrow glass or jar and let it cool slightly so it doesn't melt the ice cream on contact.
- If you have any extra chocolate shell left over you can use a fork to drizzle it over the ice pops to create a fun texture. You can also store it for later — you'll just need to warm it back to room temperature before using it again. Microwave in 5-7 second bursts stirring between time until it's smooth and pourable but not hot.
- Not making ice cream pops? This makes slightly more than a pint of ice cream.
- These are the silicone ice pop molds that I used. They're made from food grade silicone, each ice cream pop is about 3" tall, and they come with 100 popsicle sticks.
It's usually in the international aisle of most grocery stores near the kosher food. Sometimes it comes in a jar like peanut butter, other times it comes in cardboard-y type container with plastic lid, and sometimes it comes in a squeeze bottle. Make sure you're getting 100% tahini paste, not tahini sauce or anything where the tahini is diluted. You can also buy it online from Seed + Mill, Soom Foods, or on Amazon.
It's so good in salad dressings and sandwiches — mix with a bit of lemon juice, salt, and pepper. You can also spread it on toast or eat it on crackers. It's very good!
I don't recommend it. Those are designed more for juice-based popsicles where you can run them under some water to remove them from the molds. You don't want to warm up the outer layers of your ice cream pops or they'll end up softening too much and you'll end up with drips of melty ice cream contaminating your chocolate shell. The stretchy silicone flat-lay molds are much easier, I promise. That said, if you can find stretchy silicone upright molds, go right ahead and use those.
There is a small slit in the bottom of each mold that you have to press the stick pretty firmly into to get it to slide in. You want to do this after you've put the ice cream in. I know, it totally messes up all the work you did to smooth the ice cream out, but it's a lot easier to re-smooth the ice cream than it is to put the popsicle stick in first and then try to smoosh the ice cream around it.
chocolate tahini ice cream pops
Tahini ice cream
- 54 grams tahini (stirred really well)
- 75 grams sugar
- 240 grams heavy cream
- 120 grams whole milk
Magic chocolate shell
- 226 grams semi-sweet chocolate
- 45 grams coconut oil (or other neutral oil)
Tahini Ice Cream Base
- Bring 1-2" of water to a low boil in a small sauce pot.
- Use a spatula to combine tahini with sugar in a medium heat-safe bowl. The bowl should be wider than the sauce pot and shallow enough that the bottom won't touch the water in the pot.
- In a large measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream and milk. Place the bowl on top of a clean folded dish towel to anchor it in place and slowly drizzle in the milk and cream, whisking constantly.
- Once all the milk and cream has been added, place the bowl over the pot of water. Reduce the heat to low and whisk the tahini mixture until it's smooth and the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Transfer the ice cream base to an air tight container and place in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Churn according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
Ice Pop Assembly
- While the ice cream is churning, clear space in your freezer to fit a sheet pan. Arrange the silicone ice cream molds on the sheet pan in the freezer. You'll want to work with just one row of molds at a time, leaving the others to stay cold in the freezer.
- When the ice cream finishes churning, use a silicone spatula to plop the ice cream into the cavities in the mold. Work quickly and use a mini offset spatula to push the ice cream into all the corners of the mold, trying to press out any air bubbles. Scrape the edge of the offset spatula across the surface of the mold to smooth out the tops.
- Press a popsicle stick up through the bottom of each mold and smooth out the ice cream again. Immediately place in the freezer. Repeat with the remaining ice cream molds. Chill the filled ice cream pop molds for at least 2 hours.
- Unmold the ice cream pops onto a silicone or wax paper lined sheet pan and return to the freezer while you make the magic chocolate shell.
Magic Chocolate Shell
- Bring 1-2" of water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pot.
- Combine chopped chocolate and coconut oil in a medium heat-safe bowl. Like before, the bowl should be wider than the sauce pot and shallow enough that the bottom of the bowl won't touch the surface of the water.
- Place the bowl over the mouth of the pot and turn the heat off completely. Stir the chocolate and coconut oil together until smooth, then pour into a tall, narrow glass or jar for dipping.
- To dip: Hold an ice pop by the popsicle stick and dip straight down into the chocolate. Pull it straight up, letting any excess chocolate drip off. Hold the ice pop above the glass for 10-15 seconds to give the chocolate a chance to start hardening, then place back on the silicone or parchment lined sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining ice pops. Work quickly and immediately place them back in the freezer
- If you have excess magic chocolate shell you can drizzle it over the ice cream pops for texture or save it to use later. Just microwave in 5-7 second bursts, stirring between each until it's smooth again.