Shoot me a jibe about my childlike obsession with ice cream and I’ll knock it back from fifty paces. It’s not dull, it’s not just for kids and I don’t need to order the gold-leaf-plated mille fuille of fruits of Eden with a Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque sabayon; I just want a bowl of ice cream. Its combination of baby food smoothness and melting sugared cream may be part of the appeal, yes (and classics such as raspberry ripple get me every time) but often it’s the way it so gracefully carries those grown-up flavours which has me reaching for the sundae spoon. I do love a bit of spice in my sweet stuff.
I originally envisaged this ice cream oozing all over a rhubarb galette but the recipe I used was not at all to my taste. To be fair alarm bells did ring as I was making it – 1 whole teaspoon of vanilla extract + 170g sugar must surely = sickly perfume?
The answer is yes, yes it does. The pastry was nice; I picked it off and used it as a scooper for the ice cream.
Back at my drawing board, I got a bee in the bonnet for poached pears. Simmered with a syrup laced with cloves, vanilla (half a pod) and cinnamon stick, they were delicate, elegant and actually rather perfect. One thing missing though: pastry. Makes you wonder why I didn’t just make the pear tatins as suggested in the ice cream recipe, doesn’t it? Hmm.
Anyway, the bottom line is that the ice cream is awesome. The scary amount of star anise actually infuse just the right amount of flavour* and the base seemed particularly creamy. Now I’ve got the bug for spice I’m set on making a chocolate and cardamom version but there’s one lesson I’m taking with me and it’s this: sometimes, a girl just needs a simple bowl of ice cream.
Star Anise Ice Cream Recipe from The Times
*I was very nervous when I clocked the amount of star anise in the recipe, but realised this is because the milk is infusing for only a short time – you need to get that flavour in fast. The end result is not overpowering.