Sunday, February 15, 2009

When Pigs Fly

I made licorice ice cream.

Sounds like a pretty neutral statement, but if you know me, you’d be looking outside to see if pigs had truly learned to fly.

Black licorice is one of my least favorite flavors in the whole wide world. I can’t really describe why I don’t like it, except to say it’s too strong of a flavor. Believe me, I have tried to like it. Candy, ice cream, custard, vodka shots--nothing can change my mind. Hubby, on the other hand, loves it. Of course he does! He’s Danish! The Danes are gaga over black licorice. It’s a cultural phenomenon I can’t even begin to understand.

As a general rule, I don’t like to prepare foods I’m not going to eat. I mean, why put in the work if you don't get to enjoy the fruits of your labor? But what am I supposed to do when my kid says he wants to make licorice ice cream to surprise his Bedstefar, who traveled all the way from Denmark to pay us a visit? Besides, I was feeling a bit guilty because it took the tooth fairy 5 days to visit our house. Sonny was afraid she wasn’t going to come at all, so he wrote her a short note:

Now if that doesn't tug at your heartstrings, you've got a heart of ice.

Licorice ice cream comes in many flavors, if you will. The color and strength of the ice cream will depend on your starting material. I’ve seen it sold as black ice cream bars (marketed as Batman ice cream in DK) or tubs. To make a black ice cream, I think you have to use licorice candy to infuse the cream. Hard candy is probably best. Hubby has used this method to infuse vodka for licorice flavored vodka shots. In Italy we found licorice gelato that was probably flavored with an extract because the color was white. To me the white ice cream is more appealing, but I couldn’t find the extract. However, I did find dried licorice root in the bulk spice section of Whole Foods and that worked well.

Truth be told, the ice cream base was not bad (that’s right, I said it and it’s probably the only time you’ll hear it from me!). I infused the cream for half and hour, which was enough to get a robust licorice flavor. Sonny asked me to throw in some of the soft candy, which I chopped up into bits the size of mini chips. If you like the flavor of licorice, then definitely try this ice cream.

Licorice ice cream
Makes about 1 generous quart
  • 3 cups cream
  • 1.5 oz dried licorice root, chopped or broken into bits
  • 8 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup (or more to taste) chopped soft licorice candy (optional)

Start by infusing the cream with the licorice root in a medium pot. Bring the cream just to its boiling point, remove it from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 30 minutes. After that time, taste the cream to see if the licorice flavor is to your liking. Keep in mind that you will be adding some sugar and another cup of liquid (later) to dilute it down. Once you achieve the desired strength, add the sugar and bring the cream back up just to the boiling point. Stir to help dissolve the sugar. Strain the cream into a clean pot.

In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks until they are pale and thick. Add the hot cream slowly while whisking to prevent the eggs from cooking. Return the custard to the pot and cook it, stirring constantly, until the temperature reaches about 175°F. Remove from heat and add the cup of milk, then pour through a strainer into large clean bowl. Chill thoroughly before churning. Add the candy bits during the last 3 minutes of churning.


Lars said...

I'm of course all for licorice ice cream :-) Did Bedstefar like it?

Dee said...

Lars, he said he did!

Marthe said...

Yum, this sounds amazing!!! I have a couple of awards for you if you can stop by my blog and pick them up!

MommaMari said...

I sympathize. My least favorite flavor? Running neck and neck, mint and anise (which is very similar to licorice). So guess what my oldest's favorite ice cream flavor is - mint chocolate chip. So last summer I was cranking out toothpaste tasting batches of homemade ice cream for the poor boy.

Dee said...

Marthe, thank you very much for the award! I've very honored.

Do you guys eat a lot of black licorice over there?

MommaMari, OMG, I don't like mint ice cream either! I do like mint in my mojitos and when used as a fresh herb, but the extact is just funky. Exactly like eating toothpaste. I'm also strange about anise. I can use it to flavor stews and savory dishes, but the extract used in sweet things I avoid.

The things we do for our kids!

pam said...

I'm not too fond of black licorice either, but you just had to make it!

MaryRuth said...

MMM....this sounds really good! I'm a licorice lover and my BF, not so much. He says licorice is for people that don't like candy.

bb said...

Next time Sonny wants to make licorice ice cream for his Bedstefar, say "Oh gee, sweetie, didn't I tell you? Bedstefar just called to say his new favorite is chocolate!"

Dee said...

MaryRuth, I might have to agree with your BF. Does he let you talk to him after you've eaten licorice, because I won't let Hubby get close to me with licorice breath. That's how much I don't like it. LOL

bb, that is genius! why didn't I think of that?!

Paula said...

Okay, that note to the tooth fairy is definitely one of the sweetest things ever. EVER!! What a sweet little man you're raising! I love the title of your post! Ha! When I was little, there was a small mom and pop ice cream shop in my little home town right next to the old movie theater. They served black licorice ice cream and my dad would get us a scoop after the movie. Whoa ... I haven't thought about that for years! :-)

Dee said...

Paula, Sonny is a great kid (but I'm not biased at all :-) and while I'd love to take all the credit, I have to say, he was just born that way. He's always been a mellow kid and we know how lucky we are. The tooth fairy was feeling mighty guilty for forgetting about him for so long!

How nice that this post brought back memories for you. I hope Sonny will have such memories when he's grown up.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

OMG, that note is so adorable! How could you be so cruel and forget? Did he wash his tooth repeatedly hoping the tooth fairy would come? I hope she gave him a lot of money to make up for it. :P

I like the jet black licorice ice cream. When I was a kid, that was the coolest thing to eat.

Uffe said...

I still haven't tried any of your recipies yet, but there's a first time for everything.

SO - this weekend Sebastian and I are going to make licorice ice cream!

I'll let you how it went :)

Dee said...

WC, I know, I know! My friends already gave me a grilling. Santa Claus and the tooth fairy are the two people weren't not supposed to mess up. I left him $5 and of course he got the ice cream.

Uffe, of course you'd try the licorice ice cream, but it's it just easier if you guys buy it?

Manggy said...

Would you believe I have *no* idea what licorice tastes like? It sounds polarizing. But you are so sweet to make it anyway-- it is Valentine's Day after all :)

Dee said...

manggy, in my (very biased) opinion, you're better off not knowing. It's close to anise, but I would prefer anise over licorice any day.

Langdon Cook said...

Glad to hear our tooth fairy isn't the only one to get stuck in traffic. Sweet post!

Heather said...

I'm fussy about black licorice - I only like it in these forms: black jelly beans, black gum drops, Good n Plentys. Otherwise, the anetholes just overpower my palate with sickly sweetness.

Sonny is SO CUTE to apologize for his tooth being a little dirty. So cute.

Dee said...

Heather, sickly sweetness describes it very well! It's sweet but that after taste kills me.

Isn't he cute! I started tearing up when he showed me. I wish he could stay like that forever.

Anonymous said...

thanks for reminding me that my heart is not made of ice! that note was too cute. it's so funny how people either love licorice or despise it. i like it and would love to try a bowl of this.

dp said...

we are never full, so you're with the other side, huh? Well, I won't hold it against you :-)