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I’m used to seeing star anise in biryani—like cloves, they’re there just for flavoring the rice, not meant to be consumed. I once almost broke my tooth biting into a whole pod. (Yes, I know they’re huge, but I’m a glutton when it comes to this dish, OK? Let it go.) The floral, peppery, licorice-like spice is just as amenable to sweet dishes as it is to savory ones; anyone familiar with Chinese five-spice powder knows what I’m talking about.
So when a copy of Emily Wight’s cookbook Dutch Feast landed on my desk, and I saw a recipe for star anise milk, I wasted no time. Warm, spiced milks, in my opinion, are miles more comforting than hot chocolate, and the cleanup is easier. And it means I can have another cookie or even something savory (Wight suggests bread with cheese) alongside a mug without feeling like I need to take a three-hour nap right after. Sweetened with molasses—though I’ve used agave and maple syrup to success—it doesn’t taste like something that’s good for digestion; in other words, it’s tasty.
I contacted Wight to ask her a few burning questions I had.
Nikkitha Bakshani: How might you modify the recipe for dairy-free milks (almond, soy, etc.)?
Emily Wight: My preference is for coconut milk, like the unsweetened variety from Silk; it’s a little richer than almond or soy milk and complements the anise flavor.
NB: Is there any way to hack this in the microwave? (No is OK!)
EW: I have never had much luck heating milk in the microwave without having to clean up a big mess afterward!
NB: Do you have a favorite cookie (or two) you like to dunk in this milk?
EW: It would be nice with a couple of crisp gingersnaps. Anise is used as a digestive, so it’s a nice treat in the evening, after dinner.
With that in mind, I’ve gathered a few recipes, below, that would pair excellently with star anise milk for an after-dinner snack you might look forward to even more than dinner:
And the recipe for the milk itself is...
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) whole milk
- 1 teaspoon molasses
- 2 whole star anise
What are some of your favorite ways to spice up milk? Let us know in the comments!