Tempura ice cream is a type of fried ice cream that uses Asian style batter, called tempura. Fried ice cream is made by coating balls of ice cream in thin breading and briefly deep frying the balls. Found in many Japanese restaurants, tempura ice cream is not difficult to make at home. Although vanilla ice cream is most often used, any flavor can be substituted.
The ice cream must be extremely cold, so it is firm enough to retain its shape when dipped in batter and fried. Therefore, it is scooped into balls which are returned to the freezer for a few hours or overnight. Some versions of tempura ice cream, place the ice cream between two slices of pound cake. The sandwich-like result is then wrapped in saran wrap and returned to the freezer to become firm.
Tempura batter is made with flour, eggs, and water. Sometimes baking soda is sifted into the flour, and vanilla extract may be added for additional flavoring. The eggs are lightly beaten then mixed with the water. Afterward, the flour is whisked into the eggs. True tempura batter will not be thoroughly mixed.
Once the batter is made and the ice cream is firm, the balls or sandwiches are evenly coated in the batter. Then they are fried in hot oil. Simple vegetable oil, rather than olive oil, for example, is normally used for frying. It is extremely important that the oil is very hot, so each portion cooks quickly. Tempura ice cream should only be fried for about 30 seconds before being removed from the oil to prevent the ice cream melting.
The resulting dessert will have a lightly golden crispy outside and a soft, creamy inside. Though the finished servings should be allowed to briefly drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil, tempura ice cream should be served almost immediately after deep frying. Serving immediately allows the treat to retain the contrast between its warm outer shell and cold interior. It also prevents the inside from becoming soupy.
Tempura ice cream can be served plain or with toppings. Sauces, like chocolate, strawberry, or caramel, sometimes top the dish. Whipped cream or wafer cookies are also topping options. In addition to tempura-coated ice cream, bananas are sometimes coated in tempura and deep fried as well. The tempura bananas are usually served with ice cream and often topped with chocolate or caramel sauce.