Guangxi Anise or Star Anise, as we know it, a fragrant and mellow spice that not only tastes sweet but also has a delicate and beautiful shell that protects its precious seeds.
Although we might associate it with wintery treats because it gently releases a warm flavour to our drinks and bakes, it is actually native from a decisively tropical region between Southern China and North east Vietnam.
Traditionally Star anise is used as an antifungal and antibacterial in traditional Chinese medicine. For its digestive qualities, infused warm milk is usually given to babies to sooth tummy aches.
My mother used to tell me that as a baby if I was particularly restless she’d make a star anise infusion and lettuce leaves hot bath, afterwards I’d immediately go to sleep.
A few months ago I was indulging some tartlet recipe testing and came up with four different fruit recipes, an instant hit was the apple, green and star anise seeds.
The other experiments were: peach and rosemary, banana, ginger and molasses, pear and rosehip.
The experiment included making a crust-less tartlet and use instead a sponge base. It always works best making the anise (s) syrup way ahead to let it infuse.
Ready? To make 4 of these babies you will need:
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- 4 tbsp water
- One big pink lady apple peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp green anise seeds
- 4 star anise seeds
- 200g strong white flour
- 2 eggs
- 100 ml milk
- 80g caster sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Glaze of honey, warm water and apricot jam
Mix the 4 tbsp of water with the 4 tbsp of sugar and cook on a medium heat until obtaining a slightly thick syrup. Add the seeds and let it cool.
Prepare the batter with the rest of the ingredients except for the apples and distribute evenly on 4 tartlet moulds.
Pop the sliced apples on the infused syrup, cover and cook in the microwave for 40 seconds. Take out and arrange on the batter forming a rose.
Drizzle with the rest of the syrup and place one star anise seed at the centre of each tartlet.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Unmould and glaze with the mix of honey and apricot jam.
These tartlets not only look beautiful but they also are a soft nice finale to a good dinner, will leave a sweet perfumed aftertaste.