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6.14.2010

It's my duty

I’m not exactly sure how to broach this topic, so I’m going to cut right to the chase. Fennel ice cream.

I had fennel ice cream for the first time almost a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it. I used to only get this way about things involving chocolate, but apparently I’m growing up, or getting weirder. Either way, I take it as a positive development.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, or if you keep up with Bon Appétit, you’ve probably heard that my friend Olaiya is a knockout of a cook. She consistently finds, creates, and writes the best recipes I know. I feel very lucky to have her around, not only because she teaches me a lot, but also because she occasionally invites us over to dinner and does something crazy, like opening the freezer and blithely serving up, la di da, a homemade fennel ice cream that might be, what do you know, some of the best ice cream anywhere.




Fennel is never an easy sell, and if you’ve already clicked away, see you next week! But for those of you still here, listen: even if you don’t like fennel, and even if you absolutely despise it, there’s still a good chance that you’ll like this ice cream. I’m not making promises, but there’s something sort of magical, something surprising and bewitching, that happens when you steep fennel seeds in hot cream. The cream takes on the essential flavor of the seeds, as you would expect, but the butterfat works to soften that flavor, rounding off its pointy edges, turning down the volume on the licorice notes, resulting in a taste that’s almost hard to identify: cool, herbal, smooth, even quiet. It doesn’t scream fennel, by any means. It mostly whispers eat me, ideally with a bowl of sliced strawberries.

I wish I could say that Olaiya invented this stuff, but the recipe came, I learned, from her clippings folder. It was originally published in the October 2007 issue of Gourmet, where it was adapted from Holly Smith, chef of Café Juanita and, most recently, Poco Carretto Gelato. I knew immediately that I wanted to tell you about it, and with Olaiya’s blessing, I went to Epicurious to look for the recipe - only to find, in the reviews, a mention that Deb of Smitten Kitchen had written about it shortly after it came out. That woman is on her game! She doesn’t miss a beat. I not only missed this beat, but I missed it by almost three years. I tore my hair out for a little while, wondering whether this meant that I shouldn’t write about it, that the world is already over, totally over, fennel ice cream. But I decided to write this post anyway, because if even one of you out there hasn’t tried it, it’s my duty to make sure you do.

Take my word for it. You want to make fennel ice cream. It’s a very straightforward recipe: if you’ve ever made ice cream, you can do it in your sleep, and if you haven’t made ice cream, you can do it with your eyes closed, which is almost like sleeping. It’s also an excellent ice cream base, fennel flavor or no: it’s smooth and creamy, but it’s not too rich, not one of those ice creams that coats the spoon with a slick of something like butter and sets your teeth on edge. It’s also made for this time of year, when strawberries are upon us and raspberries are coming soon, followed shortly by peaches and nectarines. This ice cream wants to hang out with summer fruits, all the juicy, soft types with a good balance of sweet and tart. And maybe this is taking it too far, but I think it might also be a first-rate match for chocolate. I’m inclined to try scratching the fruit entirely sometime and serving it instead with hot fudge, or a slice of chocolate cake. Who knows, but I have high hopes.


Some housekeeping:

Canada, hi! I will be in Vancouver this Wednesday, June 16, at 3:30 pm, for a talk and book reading at Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks, at 1740 West 2nd Avenue. If you’re going to be in the neighborhood, come on by, and if you would, RSVP to 604.688.6755.



Fennel Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2007, and Holly Smith

1 2/3 cups heavy cream
2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks

Combine the cream and fennel seeds in a small heavy saucepan, and bring just to a simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath.

Then combine the milk, ½ cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium heavy saucepan, and bring just to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Add the hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the medium saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer. (Do not allow it to boil.) Immediately strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Cool in the ice bath, stirring occasionally.

When the custard is cool, strain the fennel cream through a fine-mesh sieve into the custard, pressing on the solids. Continue to chill in the ice bath until the custard is very cold. (Alternatively, cover the mixture, and chill it in the refrigerator overnight.) Freeze in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container, and put in the freezer to harden, about 1 hour.

Yield: about 1 quart

165 Comments:

Blogger Kitchen Seductress said...

Im so excited to read this post! We used to have a cardamon brulee on our menu and it was a similar thing..
People would approach it with hesitant nervousness, dip their spoon slowly in, and taste the custard on the end of their tongue..
And then magic! It didn't last long after that.
The cream mellows the cardamon to a sweet exotic wonder.
So fennel ice cream.. I believe you will be one to try.
Thanks for your passion and enthusiasm...

7:07 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Fresh Local and Best said...

This is quite an intriguing flavor combination. I'm still working very hard to translate the flavors in my head. I can tell you that I have had fennel sorbet at Marcus Sammuelson's restaurant Acquavit, and it was phenomenal, so I'm not expecting anything less with fennel ice cream.

7:07 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Robin (Hippo Flambe) said...

When I first started to read this post I was trying to imagine how you would make ice cream from the fennel vegetable and how it would taste. Now that I see it is made from fennel seeds I will be trying it. Thanks, the world is indeed not yet over fennel ice cream.

-Robin

7:14 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Daisy said...

oh my gosh Molly. this is sounding exceptional. I am a fennel fan in all it's glory. I am so glad you did share this with us.

7:16 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous dan said...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!1

7:16 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger NiCole said...

As I as devastated when Cold Stone Creamery pulled its black licorice flavor, I am certain I will love this recipe.

7:16 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Ciao Chow Linda said...

Well I missed the fennel boat three years ago but I'm on board now. Fennel is a favorite of mine in all its guises and I can't wait to try this ice cream.

7:23 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Renai said...

Um, whoa! I just posted yesterday about my own recipe for fennel ice cream! Too weird.

7:36 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Naomi said...

I love fennel so I'm sold.

This post reminded me of these amazing cookies I once made, the recipe was also from Gourmet, that were made with anise seeds. The rims were rolled in sesame seeds. The cookies were barely sweet and oh so delicious; I should make them again, and this ice cream.

7:38 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous emily said...

we recently had olive oil ice cream and buttermilk ice cream at a wonderful restaurant here. that combination of refreshing and unexpected is such a treat.

7:45 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger mammacomic said...

I am just wondering if it possible to make this without an "ice cream maker"? I would love to make this, but as I do not have an ice cream maker, I am not sure if I can.

7:45 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Hula Hoop da Loop said...

i hate fennel. In fact I'm the kind of fennel hater that goes on campaigns, and sort of gags just writing it, but perhaps with strawberries or maybe chocolate, i could get on top. I'm actually very interested in making ice cream, and wondering about the adaptability of the recipe, to say any sort...any words of wisdom?

8:06 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger My Kitchen in the Rockies said...

I absolutely Love fennel. I have proof, visit my blog!
This will be an ice cream recipe I have to try. I am glad you decided to share it. Thanks.

8:06 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Dawne said...

I love fennel ice cream. I love even more that you'll be in Vancouver on Wednesday!

8:06 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Denise @ Creative Kitchen said...

Wow...fennel ice cream...I'd have never guessed. I'm not a fan of licorice though so I wonder if the flavor would mellow enough for me?

8:24 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous molly said...

Eyes closed or open, I routinely botch ice cream (scrambled egg cream's my special twist). Fennel, though, fennel I can do. Maybe it's time to give ice cream another go...

9:22 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Tami said...

OMG, I missed the boat too apparently and hadn't given fennel a thought either. Although I do know about Anise ice cream which I LOVE! So I'm on it. Thanks! And I'm so sad I'll miss you when you are in town on Wednesday. Enjoy our little city. Any chance you can bring along some pizza:)

9:23 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yum, fennel -- I still think about the roasted fennel bulbs in butter and parmesan that I made a few months ago. Probably my favorite veggie recipe to date.

9:23 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I love you, Molly. I really do. I think I'd give you a kidney if you needed it. But I can't eat fennel ice cream. I just can't. It makes me turn up my nose, even. I hope I don't get sent to Orangette purgatory for it. But to my credit, I did read the whole post at the very least.

10:10 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Vanessa said...

Actually, I'm one of those rare individuals who loves fennel in all its forms so your recipe sounds perfect to me. What an original and exciting recipe!

10:14 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Anna said...

i'm SO making this. i need a reason to like fennel again. :)

10:23 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Emily Rae said...

Fennel is one of those flavors that I, too, cannot stop thinking about. This sounds amazing, and once I clear out my freezer to make room for my ice cream maker, I'll be making this. There's a ice cream shop in Leavenworth that carries a (very deep green, almost black) licorice ice cream that I partake of every time I'm there.

10:31 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks said...

Mm, I have been waffling over whether to get an ice cream maker this summer, and this recipe is tipping me further in the direction of get-one-now.

10:35 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot said...

mmmmmm, fennel, so delicious and good for the digestion. A scoop of this and a scoop of Batali's olive oil gelato and I'm the happiest girl in the world.

11:15 PM, June 14, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two words for you, Molly—sage ice cream! (Well, I guess that's three.) Anyway, sage ice cream is wonderful, for all of the same reasons you like fennel. I make it with a raspberry sauce "ripple." Basic recipe: steep generous handful fresh sage leaves in 2 cups whole milk and 2/3 cup sugar. Strain and reheat, then add slowly to 4 egg yolks to make a custard. Heat mixture till it coats a spoon, then take off heat. Add one cup whipping cream, chill thoroughly, and process in ice cream maker. I add a tablespoon of cassis to the raspberry sauce, which I spoon into the container as I pack the ice cream from the ice cream maker. Credit for this flavor (recipe is my own attempt) to the world's best gelato store—Gelateria del Teatro, Rome!

11:22 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger The French said...

I feel like a truck just hit me. An ice cream truck at that. Fennel and ice cream...together? My whole world is spinning. Is left really left or is left actually right? Fennel ice cream. Ah. I didn't know those two things could coexist...it's like I've entered a parallel universe...one I will be taking up permanent residence in. I must get my hands on this ice cream:)

11:31 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Shirley Dockerill said...

Aahh-HA, I've been contemplating adding something 'non-sweet' to chocolate brownies - chilli works brilliantly and following this suggestion for ice cream I'll try fennel seeds.

11:37 PM, June 14, 2010  
Blogger Hysteria Lane said...

I happen to have just bought an ice cream maker, to love fennel and ADORE ice cream.
This will be my first one!

12:09 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Koek! said...

I always thought growing up and getting weirder were mutually inclusive...

Fennel ice cream and strawberries. Sounds like something one would serve to round off a picnic through the looking glass.

Alas, I don't have an ice cream maker. Can this be made without one?

Robyn

12:36 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Eric said...

Years ago I made some fennel ice cream using wild fennel pollen (all over the place here in California). It was a great match with figs for dessert...never tried it with seed...curious to taste the difference.

12:58 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous my little expat kitchen said...

I just bought my first ice cream maker and you sold me! I'm gonna make fennel ice cream.
Magda

1:42 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Mark @ Cafe Campana said...

Mmm this looks very cool (sorry bad pun). I know what you mean, once I think of a crazy recipe I wont be satisfied until I have tried it.

1:47 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Fiona said...

Reminds me of another great icy herby/fruit combination--basil sorbet with a bit of pineapple, caramelized in its own sugar.

2:21 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Holly Keegan said...

Glad you carried out your duty. Thank goodness for the friends that put things like fennel ice cream in front of us! It sounds decadent and worth a shot- with fruit or chocolate... maybe even a little of both

3:21 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Jessica @ How Sweet said...

I would love to try fennel ice cream - I love daring flavors.

3:33 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hint just don't try to grow this in your garden! You'll never get rid of it.

3:58 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Flavor of Italy said...

I'll eat just about anything, but black licorice is a flavor I can't abide.....but I do love fennel. There's fennel the white bulb vegetable and then there's wild fennel. It grows wild in Rome and I'll bet it's also growing wild in many parts of the States. Gather the flowers and seeds in late summer and allow to dry. Keep seeds and flower buds separate in jars, once dried, as they impart different flavor intensities. The buds are better for fennel ice cream.
And while we're discussing ice cream now is the time to harvest lavender....it'll send you over the moon in ice cream!

4:02 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Jennifer Jo said...

Molly, even if someone else wrote about it already, I still love to read your opinions. Everything has happened before (you've read Ecclesiastes, right?)---it's our own personal spin that makes it new.

And the idea of fennel ice cream is new to me. (Though I'm focusing on lemon and peanut butter ice creams right now, though not together, of course.)

4:11 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Spiralstyle said...

I'm intrigued and I will try it. Thanks for the post.

4:27 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger colehillkitchen said...

my favourite odd combination is white chocolate and cardamom mousse, completely weird but completely wonderful!! thanks for this great recipe!
Becca :-)

4:35 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger 12th Man Training Table said...

Molly, you need to come visit Denver. We seem to be ground zero for interesting ice cream flavors. BBQ and chile pepper and tequila and you name it. Make it a Spilled Milk roadtrip!

5:02 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous The Muse of The Day said...

OK, this one got to me... I am going to have to have a go at it. I will let you know if my palate agrees with yours.

5:12 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger ann said...

Fennel is the best when it is just a whisper of a flavor. Something that doesn't scream at you but whispers. This sounds like that perfect combination with the cream evening out the flavor. I look forward to enjoying this.

ann

5:29 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Carrie said...

I am a big ice cream fan and love trying new things...so if someone made this for me, I would try it. But I would never make it for myself. Fennel seeds freak me out. I can't even eat Italian sausage because of it. I know, I know...

5:44 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger lexi said...

I totally missed the boat - so thanks heaps! Will have to wait for the weather to warm up a bit before trying, though. Boo.

5:51 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Cocina Savant said...

this sounds wonderful. i feel like i hardly ever use fennel because so many people impulsively cringe at it, but i just may have to pull this one out sometime soon!

6:33 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger monica said...

love fennel...
love ice cream...
love your blog...
how could this possibly go wrong?

6:54 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger caroline said...

I'm glad you did decide to write about this, because I too had somehow missed it three years ago. Not having an ice cream maker, but intrigued by the fennel and cream combination, I'm thinking one could take this custard base and use it in other ways (panna cotta, maybe?).

7:40 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous kate said...

That does sound good. A few years ago I went to a restaurant in New York and had a fennel cake with cherry wood ice cream (seriously!) - I'd LOVE to have that again, but the restaurant is no longer there... :(

7:43 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger michaela said...

love to try it! i've been on an ice cream kick.

8:41 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Beth Wooten said...

Molly! Fennel ice cream is quite a revolutionary idea, and I, unsurprisingly, have never heard it before, so thanks for sharing it here. Also, thanks for your witty and touching book. I think I got weepy at least three times just reading the introduction. Surely that is a record.

8:46 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Kathy said...

NiCole, I remember that black licorice ice cream! I love anise and fennel flavors and all that, but I remember thinking, "the one who eats that is a brave soul indeed, since they'll be left with a grey mouth!"

Molly, this does sound delicious. I'm in St. Louis, and our nearby Serendipity Ice Cream has made a cardamom almond ice cream a couple times lately. As a person who doesn't own an ice cream maker, I love it -- absolutely love it -- when people take chances on nontypically-flavored ice cream. Vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate are nice and all (read: boring), but let's please mix it up!

8:49 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous deb said...

I am so glad you are giving this recipe its due! It was actually a pastry chef friend of mine who tipped me off to it, and the brown butter pear crisp I think they ran it with. I couldn't sell anyone on the ice cream (family, friends or readers), they were too fennel-averse (as was I, before making this), but it was their loss. This is splendid, subtle stuff.

8:51 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Heena said...

You might be interested in a Strawberry Fennel Ice Cream that is one of the finalists for the Best Strawberry Recipe on Amanda and Merrill's Food52 site.
Also, you're coming to Canada?! Pleeeasse tell me you're visiting Toronto - it would be such a joy to meet you in person.

9:00 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Jody, Portland, OR said...

Since you're going to Canada, you should try to find Tiger ice-cream. It's licorice (black) and orange (in color and flavor) stripes. After this post, I'd like to try the fennel ice-cream with a scoop of orange sorbet to have a more refined tiger ice-cream combo.

9:17 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Amanda Hawkins said...

I am so glad you have done your duty...my head is all a swoon thinking of the summer possibilities. Fennel ice cream, custard, pudding, and someone mentioned cardamom...so nice to be in company that is as thrilled about such things as I am. Thank you thank you thank you!

9:17 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I missed the boat too, so I'm happy to see your post. I'd love to be the one taste-testing your chocolate & fennel ideas. Enjoy that experimentation!

9:37 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Little Hunting Creek said...

I am in favor of fennel ice cream.
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

9:40 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger The Brazen Belter said...

I made this fennel ice-cream earlier this year and looooved it. I discovered that apples and fennel go together most wonderfully when I baked apples and topped them with a hazelnut-fennel brittle. So I served the fennel ice-cream with apple cake and it was lovely. Also, I just spotted a recipe for strawberry-fennel ice cream on Food52 the other day and am itching to try it!

9:56 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Molly - Thanks so much for sharing this! I hadn't seen Deb's post on it (or if I did, I forgot about it) and I am so excited to give this a try! Licorice is my favorite ice cream flavor but it's unbelievably hard to find. I don't know why I never thought about flavoring an ice cream base with fennel, but I know it will be perfect. Thanks again!

9:57 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Jacqueline said...

Molly,
Say no more...
Fennel Ice Cream sounds DELISH to me!!!

10:20 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Heather @ chiknpastry said...

definitely willing to give this a try - i'm all about interesting ice cream flavors ;)

10:23 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger MadeInPahrump said...

Love it. Love the interesting flavors. I mix fruit and veggies often

10:57 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Diana said...

I've made Rosemary Sorbet and got the same "hmmm" reaction, but it's wonderful, too! I bet this fennel ice cream recipe is really superb -- dusting off the ice cream maker right now...

11:12 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger tawc said...

i love licorice anything: fresh fennel, sambuca, anise... and a bag of it is always my road trip companion (the soft chewy black kind, not the supernibs cherry flavoured wannabes). And since you have been wooed by the flavour in icecream, i think you should know about Peters Drive-In in Calgary (alberta, canada). It is not a drive in at all, but a walk up with a grassed parking lot replete with picnic benches to sit and enjoy the one size only (read:huge) burgers, onion rings and fries. The milkshakes are one size only too, and so thick it may as well be soft serve icecream; you need to let it melt a bit before sucking it through a straw or you may pull a face muscle. I always get licorice.

11:15 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Nancy said...

I love fennel, and I totally want to try this ice cream! Hmmm I wonder what it would be like with little bits of candied fennel in there, too...

11:25 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous kickpleat said...

I'm not sure I like fennel or licorice but you've sold me. I've been wanting to whip out my hand-cranked ice cream maker for a while now, so I'll certainly try a batch of this. And so excited that you are coming to Vancouver! I will try my hardest to show up despite my busy/crazy work week!! Yay!

11:30 AM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger jenniferashley said...

hey molly! can't wait to try this ice cream recipe. but more importantly, just wanted to tell you what an inspiration your blog has been- i started reading it from the beginning a week ago and have been mildly obsessed with it, haha. i found out about it while reading your granola recipe in the latest issue of bon appetit magazine- and after making the granola and finding it phenomenal, i knew you must have a few other tricks up your sleeve. anyway it's been fun reading your posts and i've even got my fiance hooked- who is my own little foodie soul mate, like brandon was for you. i don't even know if you have time to read your comments these days, but if so just wanted to give you a shout out. and oh! by the way! in a few weeks i will be on my way to paris, where i will be eating, cooking and picture-taking to my little heart's desire. i know you would approve!! oh and check out my food blog if you can, its http://renaissancekitchen.blogspot.com

11:43 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Angie said...

This fennel ice cream sounds delicious but mostly because of your great description. While I'm sure the recipe is deserving of praise, I think your writing, especially in this post, is also deserving of kudos!

11:55 AM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Erica Newhouse said...

I am also grateful for your post and it makes me wonder how many flavors I have lurking in my spice drawer. I don't have a kitchen, or a freezer for that matter, but so far that hasn't stopped me from making pretty much anything. Perhaps with a bag of ice and an afternoon I could do it the old fashioned way.....

12:11 PM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Flavor of Italy said...

Mammacomic: Ice cream can always be made without an ice cream maker so don't worry; after all, ice cream makers are a relatively new invention!

12:28 PM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Kimberley Hasselbrink said...

That sounds so stupidly, ridiculously good that I may have been finally convinced to buy an ice cream maker.

1:00 PM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Amanda @ easypeasyorganic said...

Thanks for this! I obviously missed the big fennel icecream rave, too ...

and, I 'm super excited because I LOVE fennel and my husband HATES it. Hee hee! Now I can try to sneak it in!!

Thanks again!

2:44 PM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Dana said...

I have David Lebovitz's vanilla chilling on my counter and was planning on making some brown sugar sour cream ice cream next (recipe courtesy of Ivy Manning), but now I know I need to switch it up. I am making a rhubarb tart for Father's Day and I think fennel ice cream will be a lovely accompaniment. I am taking Olaiya's tart class at Delancey on July 5th and I am SO excited!

3:40 PM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Daley Dish said...

When I saw this I was so intrigued I made it right away! And...it's, wow, soooo good. I didn't think I'd like it as much as I do, but the consistency is like velvet (perfect) and the fennel is pronounced but it doesn't overpower. The sweetness of the ice cream really balances it out. Thanks for the recipe!

6:21 PM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Kristen (wwfoodie) said...

The world definately isn't over fennel icecream...in fact, I missed it the first time so I am so excited to give it a shot. I am skeptical, but you have not steered me wrong yet!

7:23 PM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger A Bluebonnet in Beantown said...

Mmm...what an intriguing idea! Ever since I experienced the Bent Spoon's lavender mascarpone and Earl Grey with cardamom ice creams, I've become a convert to the more exotic flavor combinations. I'm abashed to say that I used to be a vanilla gal. I can't wait to try this.

8:10 PM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Megan said...

I'm incredibly sad that I'm working tommorow and can't see you in Vancouver! I loved A Homemade Life and your blog; I'm just dying to hear you talk. Another time, say you'll come back to Vancouver soon?

9:25 PM, June 15, 2010  
Blogger Allison said...

This just plain intrigues me. Your recipe for fennel and Asian pear salad recently turned me on to fennel; now I look for reasons to cook with it and was so excited to still see it at the farmer's market last weekend (I thought it was a winter vegetable). This is def going on my 'to make' list.

10:38 PM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous D. @ Outside Oslo said...

That sounds incredible. I can just imagine how the bright fennel flavor mellows down and then transforms into something so evocative of the original, yet so different.

I must admit I still don't have an ice cream maker. I'm just not sure if I'd use it enough to make it earn its valuable counter space. But recipes like this make me ponder.

10:56 PM, June 15, 2010  
Anonymous Fiona said...

Another great fruity-herby-icy combination--basil sorbet, maybe with a bit of pineapple, caramelised in its own sugar...mmm...

2:22 AM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous Laetitia said...

I smiled while reading your post. It's true that fennel isn't really frequently used to flavor ice ... and yet you show us the opposite! it definitely attracts my curiosity!

3:39 AM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Mommy of three said...

I am glad you decided to post about it, because I missed the earlier fennel ice cream craze. I don't want to miss this one.
But a question for you and your readers, who makes the best ice cream maker? One that doesn't cost me an arm and a leg?
Anybody want to help a sister out?
Can't wait to get creamin!
Love from,
Greta

7:22 AM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Jenious said...

Truly great recipes make the rounds over and over, don’t you think? When I taste fennel, I think of summers in Northern California. Licorice-scented "weeds" grew along the path we traveled to the lake. When I first tasted fennel, my mind shot back to those heated days and I wondered if it was in fact fennel fronds we were plucking and rubbing between our pudgy fingers to smell the intoxicating scent. (And, with childish abandon, we often tossed the feathery tops into our mouths!) Thanks for this recipe revival.

8:12 AM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous The Leftoverist said...

Let's all do ourselves a favor and not even TRY comparing ourselves to Deb. We'd all crawl in a hole. This is another reason for me to go down into my spidery basement and find my ice cream maker. Fennel ice cream is calling.

8:12 AM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous tom tall clover farm said...

Yep I'm crazy for ice cream and will try this recipe in month when my fennel is ready to harvest.

Rhubarb is king in my garden now, so I like to make a great roasted rhubarb ice cream.

Here's the recipe: http://tallcloverfarm.com/?p=1562

9:22 AM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous Vanessa@Cardstore said...

okay i have to make this... fennel ice cream? it just sounds like an adventure! i'm envisioning a girls night ending perfectly with this... thanks for the idea!!

11:45 AM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Fun Frieda said...

Oh Molly. You are talkin' my language, girl. I don't know how many times - even recently - I've told my son about how 31 flavors USED TO serve black licorice ice cream, and my standard order as a child was a double dip of chocolate and licorice. This left me with an astounding black/brown ring around my mouth.
So now that I'm all grown up and actually own a Kitchenaid ice cream maker, you can see how I absolutely have to make this!
AND I never heard of it before reading your blog, so fret no more about being late to the fennel ice cream party.
PS, you rock.

12:56 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Billy said...

For those of you asking about how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker (I was wondering the same thing!) I found this great article detailing the simple steps. Enjoy!

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007/07/making_ice_crea_1.html

1:03 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Rennie said...

I adapted this recipe after reading about it on Smitten Kitchen, and I've been making it every Thanksgiving since then! Fennel is really refreshing after a big meal, and it actually goes really well with pumpkin pie.

1:30 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger AnnerBee said...

I usually loathe fennel, it reminds me of accidentally eating a black jellybean mistaken for grape... But this post is so persuasive! I do like desserts with herbal notes. I might just have to give fennel another shot.

Thanks!
-Anna
Boston, MA

3:06 PM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous Cynthia said...

You have convinced me to try it. I am going to make fennel ice cream this weekend. I must admit I am very sceptical.

4:09 PM, June 16, 2010  
OpenID apricotta said...

I just bought some fennel seeds. Not because I had a plan for them, but because I was at the international market buying other Indian spices and it seemed like a good idea. Now I know why!

4:45 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Carol Peterman said...

Fennel ice cream sounds wonderful. Not a big stretch as someone that loves Basil ice cream I suppose.

4:54 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger gnomeInTheWall said...

I'm a take it or leave it girl when it comes to fennel. Have you had those fig fennel Theo bars? I used that combo as inspiration and make some fig fennel toffee last christmas - that's about as fennel-y as I get. I am, however, dying for an ice cream maker and daydream about all the flavors I will make (I'm holding out that I'll get one as a wedding gift this october!).

6:55 PM, June 16, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also lovely with lemon (zest) and vanilla as supporting/complimentary flavors infused in the cream as well. Works great as a panna cotta, and with strawberries of course.

7:55 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger muskratbat said...

Sounds like a refreshing dessert for summer. Fennel seems to be a diverse ingredient. I have tasted a lot of it in Italian cooking, especially in the sausage and cookies.

10:05 PM, June 16, 2010  
Blogger Kristin Clark said...

38 weeks pregnant...3 o'clock in the morning...here I am on the couch, once again, unable to sleep. I find myself checking your blog and about to finish your book (I have been reading it in small chunks because I don't want it to end). So glad I discovered you, your book, and your blog. Hoping to try some of your recipes this summer while I'm home with the wee one.

3:08 AM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger A SPICY PERSPECTIVE said...

Brilliant! I can imagine how this might taste completely refreshing! The only thing I would add is chocolate flecks!

6:58 AM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous Linnea said...

I actually went right ahead and made this yesterday, and all can say is, yum! I made some of David Lebovitz's strawberry frozen yogurt earlier this week and it had become a bit icy, so I flaked it with a fork and ate some on top of the creamy fennel ice cream. Again, yum!

7:25 AM, June 17, 2010  
OpenID Bella Lovebird said...

Dear Molly,

This is the first time I've visited your blog, and I am disappointed I never came across it before! I read about it on Elissa's latest post on 17 & Baking. I love your writing, I have even just gone and bought your book to take on holiday with me to Mallorca in 2 weeks (and I haven't read a book properly in about 2 years since having my son) - so, no pressure ;-)

I will be keeping up to date regularly now and just to confirm what everyone else has said, its never too late to hear what someone else thinks about fennel ice cream, or similar, even if it was covered by Smitten Kitchen three years ago. I am totally sold by your persuasive description.

Take care, Victoria (England)

8:21 AM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous The Purple Foodie said...

fennel seeds have such a lovely flavour. I'm sure they taste fab in the ice cream. I love it when unusual flavours surprise people.

9:45 AM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Oh I agree that fennel is a bit of a hard sell for some, but for me it is an utterly brilliant flavor on the tastebuds. Fennel ice cream is a wonderful idea. I will try it this week! Love the photo. That cup is too cute :)

11:28 AM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Janet said...

Fennel Ice Cream, sounds interesting. Unfortunately, I don't have an ice cream maker so I'm wondering if I can make Fennel Panna Cotta? I'll let you know if it works out.

1:30 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Josie said...

I've been one of those fennel-haters most of my life, but lately--since the most incredible salad of char-grilled fennel a few weeks ago---I find that perhaps my tastes have changed....now it seems I'll have to see if they've changed enough to like fennel as a dessert flavor. I can't wait! *smile*

3:53 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Emily said...

Fennel is never a hard sell for me! This makes me want to buy an ice cream maker.

5:32 PM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous Katie@Cozydelicious said...

I am so excited about this idea! I can't imagine why anyone would be put off by the idea of fennel. It's such a fantastic flavor.

5:45 PM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous gluttonforlife said...

If you like this, perhaps you'll venture to try my strawberry-fennel ice cream which uses fennel pollen rather than the seeds...

5:52 PM, June 17, 2010  
Blogger Karen said...

We have a long standing joke in my house about lavendar ice cream (the boys-father& son-- thought it too foo foo for their taste buds) so I will have to try the fennel. The depth of flavor you describe (and the fact they are licorce lovers) should make it a hit. Thank you.

6:14 PM, June 17, 2010  
Anonymous Ugur said...

I love it :) Thank Molly..

7:00 AM, June 18, 2010  
Anonymous Erin W. said...

Mmm, I love fennel. I will definitely try your ice cream recipe.

By the way, I just wanted to let you know that I love your book. Your writing is so fresh & charming. And I want to try everyone of your recipes. xoxo

7:48 AM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Vicki said...

Il Fornio makes a heavenly dessert we jokingly refer to as "Tubby Custard" after the Teletubbies children's show. It's a heavenly custard made with fennel and topped with burnt sugar.

10:09 AM, June 18, 2010  
Anonymous Jim From Cookie Recipes said...

I'm not really a fan of licorice flavor but this sounds so interesting I've just gotta' try it.

All I have to do is create a fennel cookie recipe to go with it.

11:52 AM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Guinnah said...

i love fennel - the ice cream sounds lovely!

12:01 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

sounds delicious! there are some interesting flavors starting to be seen in the dessert world- rosewater, sage, curry, now fennel...how exciting!

2:14 PM, June 18, 2010  
Blogger sarah nicole said...

I love this. I need this. Thank you, Molly!

1:39 PM, June 19, 2010  
Blogger michaela said...

Molly-

After walking away while making the custard, I had to start again and have now got it chilling. Taste from the back of the spoon is promising. I just picked up some strawberries at the Proctor market here in Tacoma, but I'm thinking maybe a chocolate sauce instead.

I'll report in to Olaiya when I see her at class Monday night. Enjoy your weekend.

1:39 PM, June 19, 2010  
Blogger Cristina said...

Wow. You opened my eyes to roasted rhubarb which IS my favorite food, so I will follow you off the cliff that fennel ice cream sounds like it might be (I mean, I make sure to get fennel-free Italian sausage whenever I can).

3:08 PM, June 19, 2010  
Anonymous S.Roy said...

Thanks, Molly! I made a basil ice cream this month from Gourmet (I think it was from Gourmet 2008, but can't remember). It is fantastic. And fennel meringues from the Casa Moro cookbook are fantastic. I love your description of the ice cream as quiet. We will have to try it here soon!

3:59 AM, June 20, 2010  
Anonymous Sylvia Zygalo said...

I can see myself loving this. Garlic ice cream, on the other hand..

9:06 AM, June 20, 2010  
Blogger krisel keeper said...

On a different note...we were in the Seattle area over Memorial Day weekend visiting family. Your restaurant was not open so I scrolled your list of pics. Most were closed on the Monday we were in the city. Finally we ended up at Presse and it was fantastic. it was perfect in many ways including the atmosphere. This is the kind of place I hope sticks in the mind of my 2 year old and will eventually prompt her to visit Paris one day. Many thanks for all the wonderful things you write.

Oh, and made the chocolate cake (cupcakes) from your book for my husbands birthday on Friday. By far the best cake I've made! Thank you!!!!

3:53 PM, June 20, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy Mother of God. How I love fennel! How I love ice cream! I will try this recipe. I had basil ice cream at this wonderful restaurant in Baltimore called Woodberry Kitchen.

Molly, I know you have family around here. Have you been there? If not, you must go. I almost died.

7:21 PM, June 20, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly,
Thank you for this wonderful, flavorful, EXCELLENT ice cream recipe. A friend and I purchased an ice cream maker for the purpose of the fennel ice cream, and you did not disappoint us. Father's Day dessert was supreme!
Cathy

9:19 AM, June 21, 2010  
Anonymous Lindsay C said...

Fennel ice cream sounds like such a wonderful idea. I always love it when savory flavors in ice cream surprise me. Basil ice cream is one of my favorites. I will have to try this next, and I think the idea of pairing it with raspberries sounds delicious!

11:49 AM, June 21, 2010  
Anonymous steve said...

Great recipe! It looked so good that I dug the ice cream maker out of the back of the freezer where it had been sitting, unused, for 10 years. (Is that long enough to ensure that it's cold?) I added some blueberries to the ice cream, and it came out very well. I won't wait ten years for the next batch.

Jody from Portland is right about Tiger ice cream in Canada. It's very refreshing after a hot day's hike.

6:53 PM, June 21, 2010  
Anonymous FrenchPressMemos said...

The best ice cream I have ever had was ...well, a sorbet- a basil sorbet that made me rethink my preconceived ideas on what flavor ice cream must be.

About a month ago I made a tarragon infused goat cheese ice cream that was so creamy and ethereal that I ate a half a pint in one sitting. Fennel seems able to make me do the same!

7:53 PM, June 21, 2010  
Blogger isobel said...

Fennel is such a palatte cleanser too, chewing on seeds that is. A great way to end a meal. I add fennel to spiced chai. I am going to try this recipe substituting cardamom and saffron. Flavors of Kheer - Indian rice pudding. I tasted this in a gelati once and it was divine, mother's milk.
improvchef.blogspot.com

11:01 PM, June 21, 2010  
Anonymous Mimi said...

You are too funny. Why not write about it... and... you know that fifteen bloggers will be writing about it next week because they saw it here, lol!!

11:12 PM, June 21, 2010  
Blogger Claudia said...

Having just had "taste it and happily weep" goat cheese gelato at SCOOPS in L.A. - I will never say "never." And happily, I love fennel in all its anise glory.

3:16 PM, June 22, 2010  
Blogger Magic of Spice said...

Interesting ice cream...Fantastic blog you have here with great articles!

7:23 PM, June 22, 2010  
Anonymous Courtney said...

Hi Molly, I'm in love with your blog and check it every day, so thanks for all the great writing. Just a quick question - do you have any ice cream maker recommendations? I want to give this a try but I'm nervous!

6:33 AM, June 23, 2010  
Anonymous Sarah (Running To Slow Things Down) said...

I'm quite the fan of fennel. My mom and I used to make batches of fennel cookies for Christmas, and we were the only ones in the house who liked them. Which worked out just fine. ;)

This post confirms that I need to buy myself an ice cream maker. :)

6:52 AM, June 23, 2010  
Anonymous Marissa said...

Your BA column is my favorite -- it's the first thing I read each month!

9:36 AM, June 23, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read the bottom of the post and can't believe I missed you in Vancouver!!! I've been giving away your book to as many people as I can afford (birthdays, bridal showers, anniversaries, you name it!!!). Hope to catch you next time you're in town! Hope the reading went well!!!

1:28 PM, June 23, 2010  
Anonymous Heidi said...

This sounds absolutely delicious Molly! Unfortunately, as a student that moves all the time, I don't have an ice cream maker - too hard to lug around. Oh well - there's always granita!

3:32 PM, June 23, 2010  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Well, anything steeped in cream is worth a shot. I mean, how bad can it be, right? It's cream! Butterfat!

However, while I can enjoy the taste of fennel I'm still not a fan of the licorice scent. But I trust you...maybe I'll give it a shot.

8:53 AM, June 24, 2010  
Blogger Jen said...

I keep tossing the idea of fennel ice cream around in my head, trying to reconcile it. I just. can't. do. it. We even discussed it in my measley comments section on my blog. None of us are ready. Perhaps you are just light years ahead of us.

3:30 PM, June 24, 2010  
Anonymous cathy said...

I love the way you write. I found you on someone else's blog, and I hope you don't mind, but I've added you to my blog roll. I now live in southern Italy and my family and I have come to love raw, fresh fennel salada...nothing but a pinch of salt and olive oil and white or white wine vinegar, or lemon. Your description and the simplicity of your recipe makes me want to try this, though I've never made ice cream. I'll give it a go.
cathy

1:13 AM, June 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This sounds wonderful... and I have to agree with a couple of other posts -- lavender ice cream is divine! Just substitute some lavender buds for the fennel seeds.

9:01 AM, June 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly, have you tried Tom's of Maine fennel toothpaste?

11:12 AM, June 25, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I want to say I'm a huge fan and am currently reading your book, which I can't put down.

Secondly, I had seen this recipe bopping around but had ignored it because I don't like like fennel, but you have just convinced me to make it, in fact, I think I have some heavy cream in the fridge right now...

-E

1:42 PM, June 25, 2010  
Blogger jenniferashley said...

Hey Molly- made the fennel ice cream last night- and your right! After the fennel steeps in the cream, it looses its licorice-ness and becomes softer and almost nutty- in fact my fiance and I decided that it tasted it just like Italian Wedding Cookies. Funny, huh? And on another note, I roughly chopped a piece of semi-sweet chocolate bar and added it into the ice cream at the last minute- perfection. Try it next time!
http://renaissancekitchen.blogspot.com

4:06 PM, June 25, 2010  
Blogger kim said...

Ok, have to try this now - love an excuse to use my ice cream maker!

Will you PLEASE come to the Southeast! I am the unofficial head of your fan club down here!

9:36 AM, June 27, 2010  
Blogger kristina ragde said...

My custard is already in the fridge waiting for a spin in the ice cream maker! The custard alone is everything you said it would be and I can't wait to try the final product. Thanks for posting this on your blog.

1:19 PM, June 27, 2010  
Blogger Two by the Sea said...

So I am thumbing through an old Bon Apetit in my Dr.'s office and lo and behold there was an article written by you on phyllo dough. I haven't been following you long but love this blog. This article is very timely as I just purchased my first "home" ice cream maker, vs commercial, and love fennel in all forms. Thanks!

2:20 PM, June 27, 2010  
Anonymous Justin Orde said...

I love this recipe I might try and produce it using my McGyver Ice-cream making technique, It's a sort of improvised pacojet.

6:37 AM, June 28, 2010  
Blogger Simply Life said...

wow, I would never think to have this but your pictures have made me want to try it!

1:31 PM, June 28, 2010  
Blogger Hannah Stitzlein said...

I'm not a fennel fan but I'd try it. As for delicious herby ice creams, if you haven't tried cardamum ice cream it is something to behold. If you're in Portland,OR they have it at Cool Moon Ice Cream in the Pearl and in Baltimore, MD at Dominion Ice Cream near Johns Hopkins University. The latter being the best ice cream I have ever had. Ever.

10:00 PM, June 28, 2010  
Anonymous Angie said...

It does sound wonderful, and I would never have put those two flavors together, great idea!

4:58 AM, June 29, 2010  
Blogger Simply Colette said...

Fennel ice cream!!! That sounds divine!

6:57 AM, June 29, 2010  
Blogger michaela said...

molly-have to go go oklahoma city for work. any idea where to eat?

1:07 PM, June 29, 2010  
Anonymous Diana @ frontyardfoodie said...

I don't care whether or not anyone likes fennel, after that description I need to stuff my face in it.

1:13 PM, June 29, 2010  
Blogger rwendte said...

Sounds just crazy enough to be delicious, especially with the chocolate chips!

5:24 PM, June 29, 2010  
Anonymous seamus o'conner said...

Ciao Molly,

My wife was buying two books at Border's. She was buying two,mainly because the second book was 50% off. She was standing line waiting to pay. I was waiting patiently like husbands do when I came across your book at the New Non Fiction section. I grabbed it and ask my wife for a switch out. One of her other books for yours.

Well I gotta say you a fantastic writer. Your book remind me of Susanne Goins cookbook. Your is better, but I like her stories. You really tell a terrific story. Your family sounds so sweet.

In my house we cook and eat just like you did growing. I got it from our travels to italy where food and family is so important.

Love your story of being in Paris with Burg eating croissants every morning. A few years back I took my brother and a couple of friends to Italy. We went to Panzano to see the famous butcher Dario Cecchini and every morning we ate homemade pastries at this little cafe. Incredible.

Ciao Seamus

5:35 PM, June 29, 2010  
Blogger heartbreak pie said...

I used to be such a fennel hater, but like twitter, it's everywhere and i have now succumbed to its benefits and charm. Never in dessert form though, and I'll most definitely be embracing this. Awesome and on the button as usual!

3:00 AM, June 30, 2010  
Anonymous nina said...

It's pretty amazing! I cannot imagine how good this would taste. I'll have to try this recipe. I cannot wait.
Thanks

12:55 PM, July 01, 2010  
Anonymous NicoleK said...

Last week a girlfriend told me I must check out your site... Love it! I love, love, love fennel and was greeted with this delicious recipe! I stopped and made this recipe before I perused any more of the site =) Delicious!! I've poked around a bit more and am very excited to have discovered you. (I've been asked to make a giant batch of ice cream for a July 4th BBQ this weekend! Everyone loved it!)

7:09 PM, July 02, 2010  
Blogger Meg said...

I made this tonight. Awesome. And you were right on all fronts. Totally subtle fennel and not the big cream slick custard experience. Beside using this recipe for just the fennel, I am going to use it as my custard base for other flavors throughout the summer. By far the best that I have made at home. Thanks so much for the recipe!

7:13 PM, July 02, 2010  
Anonymous Hannah said...

I am deeply in love with the idea of fennel icecream. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

H :)

7:37 AM, July 08, 2010  
Blogger Christy said...

Inspired by this post, my mother and I made fennel ice cream this past weekend to beat the East- Coast heat wave, which saddled even Maine (where she and my father live) with a terrible dome of misery. We bought strawberries from a roadside stand and dressed our bowls up simply, as you'd suggested. I can't imagine a better antidote to what could ever possibly ail me, including 100+ heat indexes. I had it for dessert and also for breakfast. Thanks for the recipe!

10:59 AM, July 08, 2010  
Blogger Marisa said...

I'm a fennel fan, so no convincing needed here. Oh and also: NOM.

4:07 AM, July 12, 2010  
Anonymous Louise said...

This was completely delicious - thank you. I also made it with coriander seeds (three times the quantity as they're not as strong as the fennel) which was pretty good too.

1:13 PM, September 07, 2010  
Anonymous Kathryn said...

I made this for my dietician friends, and they loved it. I love anything fennel, and eat the seeds all by themselves. But you are right, that the flavor is so intriguing when steeped in cream and sugar! YUM!

5:26 PM, March 21, 2011  
Anonymous Doobie said...

I recently had basil ice cream which was possibly the most amazing flavor I have ever had in ice cream. So when I read your post today I was reminded of that and could understand how good fennel ice cream might taste.

4:48 PM, May 18, 2011  
Anonymous TT said...

Thank you for the recipe, I love your blog and unlike some people I don't need the convincing Im already a fan of fennel. Im dying to serve it with a pear souffle this weekend.

9:05 AM, January 16, 2012  

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