There are probably 2 distinct camps when it comes to this pretty unattractive sweet – haters and lovers. So what actually divides the two? Is it flavour, looks, texture or the fact that as a sweet, it should not be consumed by the bucket.
Licorice is extracted from the root of the plant, known by a frighteningly long name which I won’t pester you with and you won’t remember it anyway! If you love it, you may have looked up its’ history, but if you shudder at the thought of it, you couldn’t care less. So, let’s look at the facts.
Licorice was originally used medicinally way before sweet manufacturers decided to turn it into a lucratively commercial sweet product. They were somewhat mistaken in this, as licorice rates way down in the world’s favourite sweet list to enjoy. It’s extract from the root still remains in medicine today, although it comes with a warning that over-consumption can have adverse effects. Equally so, in some cases it is used as a topical medicine for rubbing on to the skin, but yet again, it is not recommended for extended periods over 2 weeks. But if you are not adverse to shakes, palpitations and high blood pressure, chow on down my friends, as that could well happen with too much consumption.
Ways of eating licorice
Like many other ‘non-food’ items, and by that I mean stuff that you wouldn’t normally eat turned into something that is supposed to taste good and vaguely resemble nourishment, the usual ‘mad professor top chefs’ have fought for first position in the innovative items to make with licorice. From my point of view, they failed, and some things are best left alone (apologies to all lico-lovers for my strong point of view).
Licorice hasn’t made it into a new 7 wonders of the world, my only wonder is why don’t excellent, creative chefs draw the line at a product which is really only any good for its’ original purpose. They just can’t resist it, it seems.
So we have gone through the gambit of the following:
- Flavouring sugar
- Meat rubs
- Teas, syrups, sauces, custards and cake batters
- Sabayons, pannacottas, set mousse etc
- Thick creams (added to) and ice cream
- Game meat – pigeon, quail, duck but also pork products
Frankly, this whole thing scares me, gives me nightmares of waking up with licorice around my mouth, and a black gaping hole where my teeth used to be. Give me strength to survive writing this article, let alone dispersing the licorice thoughts in my head!
I think by now you have got the gist – personally, I don’t even want to be in the same room as the dreaded black stuff, let alone cook with it. But some do, and enjoy it. Horses for courses I guess.
A published description of licorice flavour is ‘an elegant, herbal taste and notes of anise and fennel. Liquorice works just as well in savoury dishes as it does in sweet’. Oh no it doesn’t, you won’t convince me! Apparently though, it does go well with other flavours such as ginger, mint, rhubarb and raspberries. Anyone fancy a crumble?
So, you can keep your chewy, stick-in-the-teeth licorice and black mouth and tongue. Besides which, I can’t afford dental surgery on a regular basis!!