I've Turned My Love of Licorice into the World's Most Divine Dessert Topping
I'm a black licorice girl all day. That complex bittersweet anise flavor is just my cup of tea. Give me a box of Good 'N Plenty at the movies, or those glossy black chewy whips, or the hard-to-find Crows. I love a black jellybean or gumdrop, always traded for the black Chuckles, and you'll never hurt my feelings with a little sambuca after dinner. I like licorice tea to soothe an upset tummy, and fresh fennel in my salad.
So, you can imagine when I discovered pure licorice powder. I began experimenting with all kinds of new ways to celebrate this tongue-tingling flavor and I've come up with some exciting combinations:
- I add to my dark pumpernickel rye and to my molasses gingerbread to give some earthy grounding.
- I sneak a pinch into my mole or chili or barbecue sauce for that little bit of musky something special.
- And I love to add a little sprinkle to espresso after dinner.
What is licorice powder?
Licorice powder is just the dehydrated juice of the licorice root, pulverized into powder the texture of ground cinnamon. And it packs just as much of a punch, so a jar lasts a long time, and you'll always do better to err on the side of little additions when using in cooking.
My favorite use for licorice powder: dessert!
The best new thing I have been doing with it is making a licorice caramel sauce. I'm drizzling it over everything from ice cream and yogurt to cheesecake. It works great with dark fruits like blackberries, as well as with deep flavors like chocolate or coffee. I particularly love it with lemon scented panna cotta or even over a pear and almond tart.
How to make Licorice Caramel Sauce
This is a simple caramel sauce amped up with the licorice powder. You can adjust the amount of powder you use to determine how intense the licorice flavor is.
Licorice Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces very hot or boiling water
1-2 teaspoons licorice powder (use the smaller amount for less intensity)
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch fine sea salt
1. In a small glass or bowl dissolve the licorice powder in the hot water.
2. Put the sugar in a 3-4-quart saucepan and add the licorice water, stirring to combine. Set the heat on high and bring to a boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and syrupy.
3. Using a whisk, and whisking constantly, slowly add the cream in a steady stream until fully incorporated. This will want to boil over, but this size pot and the constant whisking will prevent that. Whisk constantly as the caramel continues to boil for about 5-6 minutes until it reaches 225° on a thermometer.
4. Remove from heat and carefully transfer to a heatproof jar. Cool to room temp and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
To buy: Menozzi De Rosa 100% Pure Licorice Juice Powder ($39.85), amazon.com