I haven't been doing the Spice Spotlight lately, but thought I'd bring it back today to talk a bit about anise, one of my favorite spices.
image source: gourmetsleuth.com
The smell of anise is wonderfully intoxicating. A deep inhalation over a container of anise makes me swoon, it's so warm, sweet, and earthy. Akin to licorice, anise seeds have a similar scent and taste, but are a bit smaller in size. You can find anise in it's star-shaped pod, as a seed, or as a ground powder.
When I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, my good friend Tara and I would wander up the hills, in the Moorish-influenced area near the Alhambra and head for a tetería, or tea shop. They would serve tea in it's loose form, in a large pot hot water, along with gorgeous tea cups. The atmosphere was dark, yet cozy. Usually we'd sit in a semi-circular booth, covered with soft velvet pillows ranging in color. My tea of choice was anise tea, which was simply the anise seeds infused in hot water for around 4 minutes. Whenever I make tea in this fashion now, I am instantly transported back to Granada.
Like most spices, anise has some known health benefits:
- helps to ease gas and aids in digestion
- can reduce menstrual pain
- the oil acts as an expectorant and helps with lung congestion
- freshens the breath
Spicy Anise Biscotti
- 2/3 cup rice flour
- 2/3 cup millet flour
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons powdered stevia
- 1 cup trail mix
- a pinch of salt (1/4 teaspoon)
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon anise seed
- a palmfull of dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup applesauce/oil
Turn the dough out onto your greased/parchment lined baking sheet. Divide into two, and shape each half into a long log along the length of your sheet. Flatten out the log with the palm of your hands, making sure to keep the dough an even thickness. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out of the center dry.
Keeping your oven on, let the logs cool for about 10 minutes. Slice the logs into the biscotti, about an inch and a half in thickness. Lay the biscotti on their sides, lining them up on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Take the biscotti out and turn them all over to their other side. Usually here I'll turn my oven off to save energy and let them hang out in the oven for a while -- keeping an eye on them so they don't burn. This usually takes about another 10-15 minutes.
Makes about 18, depending on how large you made you biscotti.
These lovely cookies will become more firm as time goes on -- I often enjoy them a little more the next day. They make a perfect accompaniment to your breakfast or serve as a snack when you're needing an afternoon energy boost.
What flavors make up your favorite kind of biscotti? Also, what spices are you curious about that you'd like me to feature on the Saturday Spice Spotlight?
Enjoy your weekend!