The first time I encountered Star Anise was when my sister and I thought of making Humba for lunch. Since then I can’t stop thinking of how aromatic it was. Star Anise is usually used when cooking meats but not much in desserts. I actually didn’t thought that someday I’ll be using star anise for making dessert. That day finally came!
Since I’ll be making a Maple-Star Anise Mousse how good will be the taste if maple syrup and star anise are together. Star anise has actually a licorice flavor. Will it be as good as how chocolate and liquor goes well together?
Here is a brief history of Star Anise:
Star anise is the dried fruit of a small to medium sized evergreen tree, Illicium verum which belongs to the magnolia family, Illiciaceae Magnoliaceae and grows up to 8m (26ft). They are found in the wild in damp woodland areas and along streams. They bear leathery, glossy evergreen leaves that are held in clusters of three or more. Star Anise originated from the southern parts of China. It is also commercially available in other countries like Vietnam, Japan, and India. Star anise has long been cultivated for medicinal use. In traditional Chinese medicine, the fruits have been used to produce expectorants, cures for digestive ailments and aids for flagging libido in men. The powdered bark can be burned as incense. The fruits have a licorice or anise-like taste and have flavored medicines, alcoholic beverages, including liqueurs, and all kinds of culinary dishes.
After trying the recipe out, the combination of the flavor was actually quite good. I just added whipped cream on top for it to not look simple. I would actually try making it again next time. I would want to try to add more of that star anise for more aroma and flavor. I also would like to try using star anise in other dessert recipes.
Maple-Star Anise Mousse
*makes about 6 servings
6 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 whole star anise
2 cups heavy cream
Whisk together the egg yolks and salt in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed.
Fill a small cup with 1/4 cup of cold water, and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Put the cup aside.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the maple syrup and star anise. Bring the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat and let cook until it reaches 240 degrees F. The syrup should get very active and bubbly.
Take the syrup off the stove and remove the star anise carefully.
With the egg yolks still whipping, slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixer bowl and let it combine with the yolks.
The gelatin should be a solid mass in the cup. Scrape it out with a rubber spatula and into the saucepan you used to cook the syrup. The heat of the pan should melt the gelatin into liquid.
Pour the gelatin into the mixer bowl as well and let whisk together until the mixture has cooled down to tempeature and looks like it has tripled in volume – it should have a thicker, more puddinglike consistency and no longer seem as liquid.
Pour out the mousse base into a large bowl. Either clean the mixer bowl thoroughly, or if you have another mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream until it has soft peaks (do not overwhip).
Scrape the whipped cream out onto the mousse base. Using a spatula or bowl scraper, carefully fold the whipped cream into the mousse base, trying not to deflate the whipped cream too much.
At this point, you can cover and place the mousse in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to let set, and then scoop out portions onto dishes to serve. Or, you could divide the mousse into individual dishes and smooth off the tops before you chill them so they have a nicer presentation. A third alternative is to place the mousse in a piping base and pipe out into dishes before chilling them. In any case, you should let the mousse chill for about 2 hours before serving.