This creamy chocolate ice cream becomes nearly exotic when flavored with a hint of anise or licorice. Anise or Thai basil are delicious in this recipe, or it can be prepared with other licorice-flavored herbs like tarragon or anise hyssop. If you don’t prefer an anise ice cream recipe, then make chocolate ice cream with mint or cinnamon basil, which are always a good choice with chocolate. MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 QUARTS
• 2 cups milk
• 2 cups whipping cream
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup packed whole anise or Thai basil leaves
• 6 extra-large egg yolks
• 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
• 6 ounces good-quality, semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1. Combine milk with 1 cup of whipping cream, sugar and anise or basil in a 2-quart, heavy-bottom nonreactive saucepan. Bruise the leaves against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring contents of pan to a simmer and remove from heat. Cover, and let herbs steep in the liquid for 30 minutes.
2. Strain infused cream through a large sieve, pressing on herb leaves to extract their essence. Return warm infused cream to the pan, reserving about 1 cup. Lightly whisk eggs in a small bowl and add about half of the reserved cup of the warm cream to eggs and whisk; add remaining cream and whisk again.
3. Whisk egg and cream mixture into the saucepan and gently reheat the infused cream over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until custard lightly coats a metal spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
4. Melt the chocolate. Whisk in about half of the melted chocolate into the custard. Add the rest of the chocolate to the custard in 3 parts. Adding the chocolate to the custard gradually will keep it from getting grainy.
5. Strain the cream mixture into a bowl, cool to room temperature, and chill (an ice bath will speed this step). Stir in the remaining 1 cup whipping cream. Freeze according to ice-cream maker instructions.
6. Of course, the ice cream is best served the day it is made; however it keeps well in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. For best flavor, do not serve the ice cream rock-hard; allow it to stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so it softens slightly.
Susan Belsinger is the author of Not Just Desserts: Sweet Herbal Recipes (Paul’s Printing, 2005).
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