Hedy Goldsmith loves Halloween: the nostalgia for childhood flavors, the chance to re-create them using the best ingredients and flawless technique. She recalls, as a child in Philadelphia, waiting for autumn, and a certain type of ginger snap cookies that were only available in stores when the weather turned cool and the leaves began to fall.
Alas, Goldsmith can't recall the brand name, but has tried to replicate their snap and spice in her own kitchens, at Michael's Genuine Food and Drink, in Miami and on Grand Cayman. She'll often serve black licorice ice cream between two gingersnaps for a sweet sandwich with a spicy, sophisticated flavor profile. The recipe for black licorice ice cream (see below) is just one of many straightforwardly delicious offerings in Goldmsith's debut cookbook, Baking Out Loud.
"There's no middle ground with black licorice—people either love it or hate it," said Goldsmith, who puts herself firmly in the former camp. The buffering elements of sugar, vanilla and heavy cream may convert those in the latter camp. If not, Goldsmith said that red licorice can also be used, though you'll miss out on the slightly spooky gray hue of the black licorice version that makes it such a natural Halloween treat. And even if no form of licorice appeals to you, you can celebrate the holiday by indulging in a glass or two of sophisticated sweet wine.
Dessert wines with an element of citrus or tropical fruits, and especially those whose spectrum includes spice and even licorice, are great choices to pair with black licorice ice cream. No matter what sweets you'll indulge in this Halloween (and into the holiday season ahead), check out our list of recently rated, recommended dessert wines, below.
Black Licorice Ice Cream
Recipe from Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors by Hedy Goldsmith (published by Clarkson Potter, 2012)
• 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
• 1 1/3 cups whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3 ounces all-natural black licorice (preferably organic), finely chopped
• 2 vanilla beans, split
• 7 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tablespoon pastis or Pernod
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, and salt. Add the licorice. Scrape all the seeds from the vanilla beans, and add them to the saucepan along with the bean pods. Cook over medium heat until just barely boiling, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and set aside for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to melt the candy. Don't worry if some little bits don't melt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until blended.
3. Over medium heat, bring the cream mixture back to a simmer. While whisking constantly, slowly pour it into the yolk mixture until blended; then pour it all back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula—making sure you get the sides and bottom of the saucepan—until the custard is thick enough to coat the spatula and to hold a line drawn through it with your finger, about 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Fish out the vanilla beans, scraping any remaining custard and seeds back into the custard, and set the beans aside. Add the pastis.
5. Chill the mixture in the fridge until very cold, about 2 hours, or for faster chilling, set the bowl over a larger one filled with ice and a little water. Either way, stir frequently. The chilled custard can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days before churning.
6. To churn, pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately, or for a firmer ice cream, scrape into a chilled bowl, cover, and freeze until firm, or for up to 3 days. Makes about 1 quart.
RECOMMENDED DESSERT WINES
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More wines can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
DE BORTOLI Sémillon New South Wales Noble One Botrytis 2008 Score: 94 | $32 / 375ml
Rich and sweet, offering a vibrant mouthful of deeply honeyed pear and pineapple flavors, extending into the long, pillowy finish. Drink now through 2020. 4,000 cases made. —H.S.
CROFT Tawny Port 10 Year Old NV Score: 93 | $30
A powerful aroma filled with dried mango and ginger leads into a pure-tasting mix of dried berries, peach and apricot. The heady finish is loaded with caramel, cream and sage honey. Distinctive. Drink now. 2,000 cases imported. —K.M.
DOMAINES LATRILLE Jurançon Château de Jurque Tendresse 2008 Score: 92 | $24
A rich and buttery sweetie, with dense ripe mango and roasted pineapple flavors, backed up by plenty of acidity. Cream, meringue and spice notes linger on the powerful finish. Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. Drink now through 2025. 1,400 cases made. —K.M.
TAYLOR FLADGATE Late Bottled Port 2005 Score: 92 | $25
Elegant and rich, with a fresh allure, offering plenty of red raspberry and strawberry flavors, backed up by medium-grained tannins. Features tar and milk chocolate on the spicy finish. Well-balanced. Drink now through 2022. 1,500 cases imported. —K.M.
DOW Late Bottled Port 2006 Score: 91 | $22
Supple, with intense blueberry and dried raspberry flavors that are accented by luscious notes of allspice and hints of mint. The concentrated finish features dark chocolate and white pepper. Drink now. 4,500 cases imported. —K.M.
BURMESTER Late Bottled Port 2007 Score: 90 | $26
Lush, with plenty of rich, well-defined flavors of chocolate, dark plum, blackberry and spice. Creamy midpalate, with good grip. Medium-grained tannins linger on the finish. Drink now through 2022. 2,000 cases imported. —K.M.
FONSECA Tawny Port 10 Year Old NV Score: 90 | $35
Refined, with bright flavors of dried berry, plum compote and cherry tart that are long and lush. Very creamy on the finish, which features chocolate mousse. Drink now. 6,000 cases imported. —K.M
GRAHAM Late Bottled Port 2007 Score: 90 | $23
Flavors of blackberry jam have some graphite notes, as well as plenty of chocolaty accents. The supple finish is fruity, with hints of smoke and an alluring silkiness. Drink now through 2020. 70,000 cases made. —K.M.
H.M. BORGES Madeira Rainwater Medium Dry NV Score: 90 | $16
Features an amber color, with an enticing aroma of butterscotch and flavors to match, complimented by dried apricot, glazed cherry, ripe pear and pastry notes. Offers hints of brown sugar on the finish. Drink now through 2028. 2,500 cases imported. —K.M.
PACIFIC RIM Riesling Columbia Valley Vin de Glacière Made With Organic Grapes 2011 Score: 90 | $15 / 375ml
Sweet and silky, balanced with aggressive acidity. The poached pear, pineapple and spice flavors linger on the finish. Drink now through 2015. 1,400 cases made. —H.S.
DOW Late Bottled Port 2007 Score: 89 | $22
A fruity aroma leads to flavors of currant, raspberry and red plum, with some citric accents. Finishes with an interesting mix of chocolate and strawberry. Drink now through 2024. 50,000 cases made. —K.M.
FONSECA Tawny Port NV Score: 89 | $15
A refined Tawny, offering a complex array of sweet cherry, dark plum and wild berry flavors, with accents of cinnamon and sandalwood. Drink now. 4,000 cases imported. —K.M.
H.M. BORGES Madeira 5 Years Old Reserve Sweet NV Score: 89 | $20
Supple, featuring nutty hints to the dried berry, cherry and apricot flavors. Honeyed notes enliven the juicy finish. Drink now through 2025. 2,500 cases imported. —K.M.
QUINTA DO PASSADOURO Ruby Port Reserva NV Score: 89 | $25
Fruity, with raspberry, plum and currant flavors that are fresh and feature milk chocolate notes, all playing against a backdrop of silky tannins. Drink now through 2018. 1,660 cases made. —K.M.
CAVA TSANTALIS Samos NV Score: 89 | $8
Concentrated baked apple, peach and spice flavors fill this buttery sweetie from Greece. Lemon curd and vanilla cream accents linger on the rich finish. Drink now through 2022. 30,000 cases made. —K.M.
LOUKATOS Mavrodaphne Patras NV Score: 88 | $11
Fruity and sweet, with good cut to the dark cherry, roasted plum and dried berry flavors. Asian spice and milk chocolate notes linger on the finish. Drink now through 2016. 150,000 cases made. —K.M.