Strawberry, Rosemary & Black Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues

“Life is like an ice cream. Enjoy it before it melts.”  – Whoever penned this quote clearly never lived in the Zambezi Valley. Forget the ice cream. Enjoy life before ONE melts!

In my last post I promised to share the recipe for (uncurdled) Strawberry, Rosemary & Black Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues. Here it is, with a grateful nod to Yomar Monsalve, the world-class chef with whom I worked a couple of weeks ago.

Please note that when training in this simple, limited environment, Yomar created cooking techniques and developed recipes that did not need precise measurements. This is illustrated in the recipe for the strawberry coulis below.

Fresh strawberries, rosemary and toasted black peppercorns.
Fresh strawberries, rosemary and toasted black peppercorns.

Strawberry, Rosemary & Black Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues

Yield: The ice cream fills a two-liter container, but will depend on how much coulis you use, and whether you add fresh strawberries.


Strawberry, rosemary & black pepper coulis

  • Fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • A large handful of fresh rosemary sticks
  • A handful of black peppercorns
  • Granulated sugar

Ice cream custard base (inspired by Skye Gyngell‘s recipe)

  • 6  egg yolks
  • 450ml/ 2 cups cream
  • 150ml/ 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 120g/2/3 cup caster sugar


  • 6 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 350g/2 cups caster sugar
  • dash of vanilla essence


  • Fresh strawberries
  • Edible flowers
  • Strawberry coulis (as above)


1. Dry roast the whole black peppercorns in a small frying pan over a medium heat in order to enhance the perfume. They are ready when you hear them crackle and pop. (If you use ground black peppercorns, it will enhance the flavor.) Set aside to cool.

2. Coat the strawberries, rosemary and black pepper with the sugar, ensuring everything is well covered (if you like your ice cream sweet, be more liberal with the quantity).

3. Transfer to a heavy-based saucepan, cover tightly with cling wrap, making sure there is no way oxygen can reach the mixture. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, about 30 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat, set aside, and allow the cling wrap to sink down into the pot, creating a vacuum to intensify flavors, about 30 minutes.

The strawberry mixture, after the intensifying of the flavors and before being sieved for reduction.
The strawberry mixture, after intensifying the flavors and before being sieved for reduction.

5. In the meantime, start making the ice cream custard base. In a heavy-based saucepan, mix the cream and milk and place over a low to medium heat.

6. Bring the mixture up to just below the boil and then remove from the heat. Set aside.

7. While heating the cream and milk, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is pale and thickened. Pour the hot cream and milk over the egg mixture, whisking while you do so.

8. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over a low heat (if it’s too hot you’ll fast be dealing with scrambled eggs). Stir in a figure of eight until the custard thickens, about 6-8 minutes. (It should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.)

9. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool (before I start making the custard, I put a metal mixing bowl in the freezer to help the cooling process). Do not leave the custard in the saucepan otherwise it will keep cooking.

10. Remove the rosemary sticks, and push the softened strawberry mixture through a fine sieve into a medium saucepan with a wooden spoon, pushing back and forth (good upper arm exercise!) until you have only skins and peppercorns left.

11. Bring the strawberry coulis to the boil over a high heat and reduce to a consistency and flavor you desire. (The more you reduce the coulis, the more intense the flavor and the thicker it becomes.) Set aside to cool.

Strawberry coulis just before its reduction.
Strawberry coulis just after its reduction.

12. Combine the cooled coulis with the cooled egg custard, making sure it is well blended. (I think the quantity of coulis one uses should enhance the flavor of the egg custard not kill it, but it’s up to you.)

13. Transfer to an ice cream container and freeze (or an ice cream maker if you have one). If you are not using an ice cream maker, I recommend you push a fork or whizzer stick through the ice cream to break down the ice crystals during the freezing process. Once or twice should suffice.

14. Heat the oven 150/300 degrees.

15. Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites (at room temperature) and whisk with an electric hand mixer until stiff.

16. With your mixer running, beat in the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time, blending thoroughly. The mixture should become a very shiny white. Finally, whisk in the vanilla essence.

17. Make small meringues either by piping from an icing bag, or spooning them, on to a greased baking tray.

18. Place in the oven, turn down the temperature to 120/250 degrees, and cook for about an hour. Turn off the heat, leaving the meringues to cool completely before removing from the oven.

19. Garnish the ice cream and meringues with fresh strawberries and edible flowers.

Note: I had a lot of strawberry coulis leftover, which I have used in combination with other desserts. It will last for weeks, if kept in the refrigerator.

Strawberry, Rosemary & Cracked Pepper Ice Cream & Meringues.
Strawberry, Rosemary & Black Pepper Ice Cream with Meringues.

Annabel Hughes Aston is a writer and an award-winning chef in Livingstone, Zambia. She is the creator of "bush gourmet" cuisine.