When I serve this ice cream to other people they usually do a little bit of a double-take upon hearing the name. For some it’s a flavor they’ve never heard of, and for others it’s a flavor that is a little intimidating. Anise, licorice, and fennel can be polarizing; lots of people either love them or hate them. I fall into the middle: I adore roasted fennel, abhor black licorice (Trader Joe’s Strawberry Licorice, on the other hand . . . I can’t buy it anymore. It’s fiercely addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you), and I LOVE Anise Ice Cream.
The technique used here is classic and infinitely adaptable: you make a standard French egg-based custard, but you infuse some of the cream and milk with anise seeds and then strain them out before freezing. You can also replace the anise with your favorite herb or spice to create unusual and delicious ice creams. I’d recommend trying dried lavender blossoms (particularly since this recipe calls for a bit of honey, and lavender + honey is a lovely combo), fresh ginger, cinnamon sticks, halved vanilla beans, or fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, or mint. I’ve even used Earl Grey tea leaves to make Earl Grey ice cream that is out of this world (want to make Earl Grey truffles? Same technique (infusion+straining) applies). The end result is rich and creamy, yes, but the sophisticated flavors lend some major elegance. Anise has a delicate, exotic flavor that pairs sensuously with dark chocolate. This ice cream plus Chocolate Wafers from Smitten Kitchen make for delicious homemade ice cream sandwiches, and if you have some good bittersweet or semisweet chocolate on hand, Anise Stracciatella Ice Cream (see tips at the end of the recipe) will rock your world. Promise.
Anise Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
2 tsp. anise seeds
2 c. heavy cream (divided)
1 c. whole milk
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. good-flavored honey
pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, toast the anise seeds over medium-low heat until they’re fragrant and lightly toasted (about 2-3 minutes). Add 1 c. cream, milk, sugar, salt, and honey and stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm. Cover pan, remove from heat, and allow the mixture to steep for an hour at room temperature.
Fill a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and set aside. Get out a gallon-size heavy-duty ziplock bag and place it in a large measuring cup or medium bowl. Pour the remaining 1 c. cream into the bag-in-the-bowl/measuring-cup and set a mesh strainer on top (depending on the ingredient you’re infusing, it may help to line the strainer with cheesecloth, just to catch any stray bits). In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
Return the anise/milk/cream mixture to the stove over medium heat and re-warm. Slowly whisk the warm milk/cream mixture into the egg yolks, being sure to whisk all the while so the eggs don’t cook. Pour the custard base back into the saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches approximately 165-168 degrees Fahrenheit and coats the back of a spoon, stirring constantly. Immediately remove from heat and pour through the mesh strainer into the ziplock bag with the remaining 1 c. of cream. Discard the anise seeds. Press as much air as possible out of the ziplock bag, seal it, place in bowl with ice cubes, pour a few more ice cubes on top, add some cold water, and leave to chill while you wash dishes/tidy up/make cookies/what have you. Once the mixture is quite cold (about 40 minutes-1 hour), freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the semi-frozen ice cream to an airtight container and press a layer of parchment paper against the surface (air contact = ice crystals, so you always want to make sure the surface of your ice cream is completely covered) before sealing tightly. Place in freezer for a few hours until firm (or eat right away while it’s a melty milkshakey mess- yum).
To make ice cream sandwiches:
You’ll want to do some prep work while your ice cream is freezing. If I’m making a bunch of these (they make a really fun dinner party dessert), I’ve found it’s helpful to clear out my freezer space so that I have enough room to put my cooling racks in there. Set out several sheets of parchment paper cut to fit either the cooling rack or a cookie sheet. Pair up the cookies of your choice (again, these are SO GOOD with almost any ice cream flavor imaginable) and lay the cookie pairs out on the parchment paper. Once your ice cream is done freezing, immediately and quickly begin spooning generous tablespoons of soft ice cream onto one cookie, topping the ice cream with another cookie and pressing together gently. As soon as a cookie sheet or cooling rack is filled, place it in the freezer before moving on to the next one. Allow the sandwiches to sit in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up before plating, wrapping, or serving (the cookies will soften the longer the sandwiches rest in the freezer, so I like to make mine the day before I plan to serve them).
To make stracciatella ice creams:
“Stracciatella” (stracciatelle is the Italian word for “little flakes”, and “real” Stracciatella is an Italian egg-drop soup that’s made by pouring a stream of whisked eggs into boiling broth, which cooks the eggs) is a fancy way of saying “chocolate chip”, but instead of just dumping chocolate chips into ice cream so that they become hard, frozen, tooth-breaking nuggets, you pour a thin stream of melted chocolate into semi-frozen ice cream, stirring all the while. The chocolate freezes upon contact with the ice cream and then crackles into thin slivers and flakes as you stir it in. This is one of my favorite quick ways to fancy up homemade ice cream: you don’t have to get out more bowls and pots and pans and thermometers to make a fudge ripple or a fruit sauce, you just melt chocolate in a measuring cup in the microwave and stir it into the ice cream. Easy-peasy.
Chop about 5 oz. of good-quality semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (not chocolate chips). Melt the chocolate, either in a double boiler or in the microwave. There are two ways to tackle the next step, and both are equally messy:
1. While the ice cream maker is still turning, but the ice cream is about ready to transfer to the freezer, pour the melted chocolate slowly into the opening in the lid. You may have to stop the mixer a few times to scrape chocolate off the dasher or lid or to stir a bit with a spatula, but work as quickly as possible. The churning of the ice cream maker will break up the chocolate as it freezes.
2. Transfer a few scoops of semi-frozen ice cream to a container, drizzle some of the melted chocolate over top, stir, and repeat.
Regardless of the method you choose, you WILL get melted chocolate and ice cream all over creation. You will also wind up with a luscious homemade ice cream studded with flecks and streaks of chocolate. It’s so worth it.
For our lingerie pairing, I’m turning again to Fräulein Annie, a brand I mentioned in the shapewear post. I can’t get the Falling in Love range out of my head. Falling in Love is a Fräulein Annie continuity style, which means it will always be available in certain colors and certain sizes from season to season. This stunning Pearl Grey/Ivory colorway is one of them. Fräulein Annie’s collections are designed to offer multiple pieces to suit different figure types and sizes. For example, there is a shaping suspender, with boning and powermesh, which will fit women with curvy hips and rears, whereas women with straighter figures or narrower hips might prefer the waist cincher. The bra is available in a padded balconette style for sizes 32-38 A-D and an unlined underwired balconette style for sizes 32-38 DD-G (UK). A short, thong, and basque (A-DD cups) complete the set. While the prices are higher than, say, Freya or Panache, they’re extraordinarily reasonable considering the level of thought and care that’s gone into the design, construction, and even business model. All garments are constructed with both beauty and longevity in mind– this is lingerie to treasure and keep. It helps that it looks incredible. The pale colors pair beautifully with our ice cream, and the luxurious, elegant details echo the sophistication of the ice cream’s infused flavor. I’m having a miserable time finding a US retailer with this colorway in stock, but it’s available for purchase at Fusspot Lingerie and Amazon.co.uk, and there should be more US retailers in coming seasons. For more info on Fräulein Annie, go check out Hourglassy‘s and Fuller Figure Fuller Bust‘s interviews with Frauke Nagel, the designer and mastermind behind this exciting new brand.
The Autumn/Winter 2012 Collection Film, inspired by Hitchcock