Quiche/Flan, Sweet

Home made Anise (aniseed) extract

A few months ago I was reading through my Italian cookie cookbook and found there were quite a few recipes which use aniseed extract.

Great, my husband loves aniseed and liquorice flavoured things so I thought it would be a lovely treat for him to make him something with these flavours and I began to look about in shops for aniseed or anise extract to use.  Unfortunately, it seemed to be a very elusive product to buy in a store, so much so that the only way I was going to get it was to buy online or make my own.  Usually I’m a big fan of online shopping as you can always get what you need at a cheap price, but this time I found I was having difficulty. There were two problems: there weren’t many shops selling and the shops that did sell it only sold in bulk orders.  I was left with only one viable option and that was to make it myself.  Luckily I had bought some star anise a while ago from Stratford upon Avon which I always thought would come in handy (but I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with it).  Making it was very simple just add star anise and vodka and ta-dah, you’re own extract after waiting just 3 months.  What?! 3 MONTHS! I’m not exactly the most patient person but I had no choice so in July I bottled it up and waited…until October.  If you’ve been following my life you’ll realise that October was a pretty eventful month as my baby decided it was time to make her appearance into the world.  Unsurprisingly, I never got round to using my extract until now, 6 months after I started it.

I decided to make some Italian anise cookies with it for my husband and I’m really pleased with it. I’m glad after all that time it was worth the wait.

Anise/Aniseed extract Half fill a small air tight jar with Star Anise then pour enough good quality vodka to cover them completely.  Put the lid on and leave for at least 3 months.  Every week (ish) give the jar a gentle shake but do not open till its ready. Its useful to write the date on you started it so you don’t forget.

Anise and Almond CookiesItalian Anise and Almond cookies I used this fab recipe to make the cookies –   Anise and Almond Cookies  They are very authentic Italian in their taste and look very home made when finished, but I think that’s what gives them charm.  I made the cookies without the flavour, then split the batch into two and added the aniseed extract to half and flavoured the other half with Almond. The pink ones are Anise and the purple ones with glitter are Almond.

Food Ramblings

Making old fashioned … aniseed extract

I have recently bought myself a book about making old fashioned sweet shop sweeties and have been so excited about trying a recipe out.

Unfortunately a couple of things have slowed me down in being able to make anything, as yet.
The first was that I needed a scraper – this is a bit like one you use to take off wallpaper but longer with a flatter handle.  It is for when you are making hard sweets, like pear drops, the sugar mixture is too hot to touch with your own hands but needs to be worked very quickly on a cold marble.
I have now acquired this from my husband who bought it as a present for me.

So I bought the other ingredients I need to make sweets, such as the right type of sugar (yes, there are loads out types out there!), got my sugar thermometer ready and was about to begin my journey of sweet making.
I decided that I really wanted to make aniseed flavoured sweets as they are my husbands favourite but I have hit one major problem… buying anise extract in the UK!

If anyone has a good website or shop they know of that you can recommend then I would very much appreciate it.  On first look it appears you can buy it fairly easily, but when you read into the finer details it becomes apparent that you need to order a large amount or the companies simply don’t ship to the UK or they charge ridiculous postage.

Because of this I decided that I would use the tub of star anise I have bought to make my own aniseed extract.  It is quite a simple task to do involving lots of star anise and some good vodka.
I put all of the star anise into a clean jar and poured the vodka over the top till it just covered.   After only a few days it is starting to look a very dark brown colour and the star anise has also doubled in size due to being re-hydrated.

The only thing I need now is some patience… it takes 3 months to make and after looking at the date I started it, I still have well over 2 months to go.
Unfortunately I haven’t been blessed with the most amount of patience in the world – I guess that’s why I wouldn’t make a good doctor*.   Hopefully in 2 months time I can update you on how my sweet making endeavour has gone but for the moment I will have to think of something else to occupy my time. Hmmm, coconut ice anyone?



*sorry about the terrible joke.