Chinese Five Spice Blend
Known as Five-Spice Powder, this fragrant mixture is made with ground star anise, fennel, cinnamon, clove, and Szechuan pepper. As with most spice blends, the ingredients and formula varies depending on where it is made and who is making the blend. Some mixtures contain ginger, others, licorice root. It is used sparingly as it is potent, yet weaves into a dish with a distinctive aroma and sweet-pungent flavor. Pairs nicely with poultry, spareribs, rice, on orange or pineapple slices. Try a spoonful in pancake batter, or cakes, or sprinkled on shortbread or butter cookies. It is a perfect addition to the classice French dessert sauce, Creme Anglaise (custard sauce). Try our favorite recipe, below.
Spices lose their potency once they are ground, or exposed to heat or light. We use whole spices for optimal flavor and grind them as needed, then package the blends in black rice paper bags to keep them away from light. Store the blends in a cool spot and use within 2-3 months. Chinese 5 Spice is a no-salt blend.
CRÈME ANGLAISE (FRENCH CUSTARD SAUCE)
Serves 4 to 6
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice blend, or more to taste
pinch of sea salt
1 cup whole milk
In a small saucepan place the egg yolks, sugar, Chinese 5 Spice, and sea salt. Stir with a whisk to combine ingredients until blended, but don't make the eggs foam. Swich to a wooden spoon. Place the saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Cook the custard, continuing to stir constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon. Test it by drawing your finger across the back of the spoon; if your finger leaves a trail in the custard, the custard has cooked to the right point. Immediately strain into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature. When cool, cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
Serve the sauce chilled or bring to room temperature and spoon over fruit tarts, onto cakes (such as a chocolate or pound cake), over fresh seasonal fruit, or fill meringue shells and fruit and spoon custard over the fruit.