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Ice Cream: Licorice

Last year for Adam’s birthday I wanted to make him something really special. He happens to love bourbon and love ice-cream. So I found a fantastic recipe online for a mint julep ice-cream. Trouble was I didn’t have an ice-cream maker. My friend Susan has one, so one afternoon I went over with my ice-cream mixture and churned it at her house. It was so amazing I knew that my next mission was to get an ice-cream maker of my own.

Luckily, Adam liked it so much he was on a mission for me to get an ice-cream maker too and so for my birthday one magically appeared thanks to my mother-in-law! So, what better way to repay that generosity than a batch of homemade ice-cream for the benefactor’s birthday? Unfortunately, I knew that if it was going to be special, it had to be some flavor that was really special.

She’s not much into sweets but I know that a love of licorice runs in the family and a few years ago Adam turned her on to a licorice tea that she loved. Inspiration had struck! I was off to find a licorice ice-cream recipe. Except, after some searching I couldn’t find any that didn’t use actual candy in it or, strangely, had no licorice at all, just a mix of alcohols. One even called for turquoise food coloring, which, frankly, scared me.

So, I made up my own. I made it a bit lighter by using mostly 1% milk instead of a 50/50 mix of whole milk and heavy cream. But there was nothing I could do about the egg yolks, sorry. The ice-creams just taste so much better with the eggs. I had to cobble together the best licorice flavors I could find and I think I did a good job combining the tea, anise seeds, and sambuca. I practically had to set up an alarm system on the freezer so Adam couldn’t get his hands on it for the two days before his mom arrived. Apparently, it was really good. 😉

Licorice Ice Cream

2 cups 1% milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 licorice tea bags, (I use Stash Licorice Spice Tea)
2 tsp anise seeds, barely crushed in a mortar and pestle
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (I use sucanat)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup sambuca

Put the milk and cream into a saucepan and add the broken anise seeds and the tea bags (with the tags removed) and slowly bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat. Once the milk is simmering place the lid on the pan and remove the milk from the heat. Allow it to sit with the lid on for 30 minutes to steep.

After 30 minutes strain the milk mixture using a fine mesh strainer. After you make sure you’ve squeezed out the tea bags well, discard them and the anise seeds. Put the strained milk back into the saucepan and add the sugar and salt.

Heat the milk over a medium heat until it is steaming but do not boil.

While the milk is reheating, separate 6 eggs and put the egg yolks in a medium sized mixing bowl.

When the milk is hot, but not boiling, slowly, and one at a time, pour 2-3 ladle fulls of steaming milk into the egg yolks while whisking continuously. (You are trying to bring the temperature of the eggs up slowly and gently so when they are added to the saucepan they don’t scramble.) Then add the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan and continue to heat while stirring continuously.

When the mixture has thickened so that it coats the back of a spoon and when you run your finger across the spoon the milk doesn’t run (see the picture above) turn off the heat. Pour the mixture through the sieve again and into a mixing bowl. Add the sambuca.

Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Store the ice-cream in the freezer.