Editor’s Note: New contributor Rebecca McClain (unsightly) is here to prove that the indefatigable bakersroyale isn’t the only ES-er who can whip up a dessert (don’t worry — poptails ain’t goin’ anywhere!) For the rest of the spring and summer, unsightly, a vegetable gardener and baker who has eaten something new everyday for the last 4 years of her life, will be bringing us ES-style ice cream recipes: that means you can forget about chocolate and vanilla—because you’re getting olive oil, figs, and black licorice up in your ice cream.
Ages (or 12 years) ago, I spent a lot of time walking the streets of the UW-Madison campus with my boyfriend. State Street was loaded with every kind of eatery, from North African to Hungarian to Tibetan. One of our favorite stops was an ice cream parlor called The Chocolate Coyote. The lobby was loaded with stacks of free copies of The Onion. We’d grab a copy, head into the parlor, and if we were lucky they would have their incredible black licorice ice cream in the line-up.
We’d sit and read over The Onion and eat triple-scoop waffle cones of the stuff. Black licorice is a pretty polarizing flavor, and we both sit firmly in the ‘love-it’ side. This ice cream was unlike anything I had ever had. It was creamy white with little pieces of hard licorice that left ribbons of flavor. It was my favorite. A couple of years later a Coldstone Creamery opened up just two doors away from the Chocolate Coyote and very quickly and very efficiently put it out of business. After a period of mourning, I started my hunt for that ice cream. I stopped at every small ice cream parlor I came across. I asked the owners if they had ever heard of it. Everyone I talked to either looked disgusted or puzzled. I researched online and the only thing I could find was this weird solid black ice cream that looked nothing like what I wanted.
Last summer we drove to an ice cream shop over an hour away to taste the solid black ice cream and came away disappointed. Finally I broke down and bought an ice cream maker. Sometimes you have to take shit into your own hands. Black licorice was, of course, the first thing I made in it. I found licorice flavor from LorAnn Oils and hard candies at a local candy store. I was set.
The verdict? I am happy at last. I can rest easy knowing that my favorite ice cream is always in my reach. And the best part is I am now ice cream crazy. I think about ice cream at least a few hours each day. I have a feeling this will be a delicious summer.
Black Licorice Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
- 2 cups/16 oz/580 ml heavy cream
- 2 cups/16 oz/580 ml half and half
- 6 large egg yolks (the whites can be refrigerated or frozen for another use)
- 3/4 cup/5.5 oz/150 g white sugar
- large pinch of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon licorice flavor (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 cup/3.5 oz/100 g crushed licorice hard candy
- Set up an ice bath: put a few handfuls of ice into a large bowl. Add a couple cups of cold tap water. Set a slightly smaller bowl into the ice bath. Place a mesh strainer over the smaller bowl. Put the 2 cups of heavy cream into the smaller bowl.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, dissolve the sugar and salt into the half and half.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Still whisking, very slowly add the warmed sugary half and half. Return the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly, until it starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. When the mixture leaves a decent coating on the back of a spoon remove it from the heat and pour through the strainer and into the chilled cream. Stir the mixture over the ice bath until cool. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When mixture is thoroughly chilled, stir in the liquid licorice flavor. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Near the end of churning, toss in the crushed licorice candies.
- Scrape the ice cream into a shallow, freezer-friendly container. Cover the top with plastic wrap and a tight-fitting lid. This should last up to 2 months in your freezer. Or two hours in mine.