Star Anise Ice Cream 八角雪糕
By Ellen L. Published: 2017-01-08
If you are one of those, as I am, that love the heady almost erotic taste and aroma of licorice then you will love, love, love this ice cream! This is a spice infused ice cream made from my love of Star Anise, a wonderfully versatile spice that is used in Chinese cooking mostly for its excellent companionship with savory meats. So into this spice am I that I have been experimenting with Star Anise in sweet foods, in my baking for one and now in my ice cream making. So here is our Star Anise Ice Cream, 八角雪糕, a wowzer of an cool luscious licorice treat with the spice's exotic and distinctive aroma nestled snugly against a velvety smooth and creamy ice cream. Yummilicious!
I started going crazy with the star anise 八角 experimentation after I discovered that I could by bagfuls (bagfuls!!) of the stuff from our local roast goose shop 燒鵝店. They use tons of it to make their delicious goose and also sell the rest I guess. So there I was with bagfuls of the stuff, just staring at their weirdly beautiful shapes, wondering what to make with them and how on earth they came to be star shapes. I love nature's true star shapes, it just always seems so perfect somehow. (By the way the Chinese word for star anise 八角, translates as eight horns, perfect also, amirite?)
|Plate form Francois-Pierre Chaumeton's 1833 'Flore Medicale'|
Here is a drawing of a branch of the star anise tree, also known as Illicium verum. This spice is native to China and has been in use for over 3000 years as a spice and also as a medicine for treating colic and indigestion. The star anise is acutally the dried fruit of this tree, which you can see in the drawing as the the green pods just uncurling their heads.
For buying star anise in bigger quantities as you will need for this recipe I would definitely recommend a trip to your nearest chinese market, be it wet market, roast goose shop, or chinese local grocer. It will be much, much cheaper than buying it in those teensy tiny glass jars at the western grocery stores.
The trick of this and any other spiced ice cream treat is the infusion that allows the aromatic oils from the spice to be extracted and transferred into the ice cream. In this case we used a gently heated milk to soak the spice pods in for an extended period, repeating until the desired infusion strength was reached.
Loving as I do the taste of licorice, I let the star anise stay in even after the infusion period, letting it cook with the custard so as to infuse that licorice essence even moreish. Here the custard is done and the star anise is finally being sieved out.
Humm...my first spice infusion ice cream...worried for a bit about how it was going to turn out, spice strong enough? Know what, tho', it turned out just wonderful, the star anise flavor really works in the creaminess, though, interestingly enough, the flavors improve if you let the ice cream rest for a few days first. Next time I'm going to grind up some fresh star anise and sprinkle just a tiny bit over the ice cream, just to give it a bit of crunch and some sharp spicy notes. Besides that, my family and I, as star anise fans, loved this deliciously exotic concoction and we hope you like it too!
Star Anise Ice Cream Recipe 八角雪糕
(makes 1.5 quart) (adapted from epicurous recipe here)
2 cups milk1/2 cup sugar
2 cups cream
2 cups cream
1/2 cup whole star anise 八角 (or up to 1/4 cup more if you like really strong anise flavor)
8 egg yolks
2 tbsp anise flavored liqueur* (optional)
Roast your star anise gently over a low heat in a thick bottomed swallow pan until aromatic. Let cool.
Combine milk, cream, sugar, star anise and salt in a small pot and bring just to the boil, remove from heat, cover and let cool. Taste the milk mixture for the strength of the star anise infusion. If satisfied, proceed to next steps. If not, heat mixture again just to the boil, cover and let cool. When satisfied with spice infusion strain out the star anise and heat the milk mixture again just to the boil and remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, add cream mixture in a thin steady stream, stirring all the while. Pour all back into pot and cook over medium low heat, stirring and scrapping the bottom of your pot, until the custard coats the back of spoon, 170°F (77°C). Strain custard through a sieve and let cool. Stir in liqueur, then make ice cream according to your ice cream machine.
Or, if like us, you don't have an ice cream machine, you can make ice cream easily like this. Place completely cooled custard in freezer for about an hour or until the custard starts to freeze up on the edges. Use a whisk or a wooden spoon to stir custard completely. Refreeze for another 3/4 hour to hour until custard starts to freeze again. Again stir completely. Repeat freezing and stirring at intervals until the custard reaches a consistency of soft serve ice cream. Pour into ice cream storage container and freeze overnight or until firm. You've just made ice cream without a machine!
*Tip: Some anise flavored liqueurs are anisette, absinthe, pastis, pernod (French), ouzo (Greek), Jaegermiester (German), Galliano and Sambuca (Italian).
*Tip: Adding alcohol to ice cream lower the freezing point and in essence, makes your ice cream softer and easier to scoop.
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