How do I make Licorice Ice Cream?

Gillian Hirst October 16, 2007 12:00am
LICORICE, like marshmallow, has its origins in the roots of the plant of the same name. The roots of the licorice plant can grow up to one metre in length and in its natural form it is up to 50 times sweeter than sugar. The fact that it also contains bitter substances masks this intense sweetness. Licorice had an old English name of sweet root and the original Greek name glycorrhiza translates to just that. (see recipe below)

Licorice has had a long history as a medicine, and Haribo Pontefract cakes or Yorkshire Pennies were most likely created as a medicine before becoming popular as a sweetmeat. Most people would remember them from childhood as the little round licorice coins with an owl and a castle stamped into the sweet. Still produced in Pontefract, Yorkshire, these much loved sweets come from an area known for its growing and production of licorice. A die made for stamping the castle and owl image has been found with a date stamped in it for 1614, so they certainly go back a long way.

Before the creation of soft drinks it is known that children would soak a stick of licorice in water until it dissolved to make a sweet drink – something that today sounds quite revolting considering the huge range of drinks on offer. Today's recipe for licorice ice cream works on a similar idea, melting the licorice into a custard then churning it. Soft eating licorice that is readily available from most shops is the best to use. I cut it into quite small pieces as I like a lump-free ice cream and strain the custard to remove any bits that may not have dissolved. However, a friend was present when I last made it and remarked that she would prefer the little lumps left through the ice cream, so it's up to you.

If, like most people, you don't have an ice-cream machine, place the custard into a stainless-steel bowl, then fill a larger bowl with ice and sit the bowl with the ice cream in it into the ice. Whisk for as long as you can bear or until the ice cream starts to thicken. If it is simply too much work, then place the ice cream in the freezer and remove every hour to give a good whisk, then replace into the freezer. Make sure the ice cream is well covered once it reaches the desired thickness and consume within three days for it to be at its best. If you have an ice-cream machine just follow the manufacturer's instructions on churning.


600ml cream
400ml milk
8 egg yolks
300g sugar

Place the cream, milk and licorice into a pot and bring almost to the boil. Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture and mix well. Return the mixture to the pot and cook on a low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mix coats the back of the spoon. Do not allow to boil. Cool the mixture and churn as described at left.


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