Star anise ice cream and parsnip cake


Kin with fennel, anise, and liquorice, maybe – but definitely the outlier, the ‘other’ one, the weird cousin. Well, friend, it’s time we sing your praises. Here’s to star anise, the radiant show-stealer of the anethole clan.

When Julian gives us open access to his spice menagerie, it doesn’t take long to home in on these dramatic, star-shaped beauties. He packs us up a little bag and sends us away with a creative mission: how to make something fresh, something a little more than the go-to mulled wine or the spiced meat braise?

Our answer: winter vegetables. Especially the humble parsnip. It may not shout like a beetroot or draw in the curious like celeriac, but it has a charm all its own and, perhaps, a friend in star anise. Its pronounced nuttiness is a perfect smooth base for the sweet, full star anise, with no loud habits to scare away the spice.

Cake is the vehicle of choice – easy to whip up, dense, moist, and satisfying, hefty enough for breakfast and just sweet enough for dessert. We wash and peel the roots, roast them in the oven, chop them up and fold them into a batter with eggs, flour, butter, and grated star anise. Into a loaf pan to bake until golden.

But cake cannot be so alone. Just as we need to join together our root and our spice, our warm cake needs a cool friend.

And what is better than cake and ice cream? So we make a quick ‘ice cream’ of sorts, with skyr, star anise, and a touch of honey, frozen and blended into a smooth, spice-studded ice.

To plate, we slice our cake, fry it in butter on one side until brown and fragrant, cut and flip the two halves for the contrast in colour, scoop on some ice cream, and scatter a bit of granola for crunch and extra toasty flavour.

The cake is delicate and simple – a quiet conversation with a friend, a candle in the window. The ice cream is a little more sprightly, the tangy skyr bolstering the anise’s playfulness. The granola keeps it in check. Together, it’s one happy family.

We got so into this parsnip/star anise combination, we decided to cook again and this time make a whole dinner with the pair: a rich broth built with cèpes and kelp, parsnip, star anise, and verbena; a thick, slow purée of parsnip with star anise brown butter and fried verbena; and a filet of pickled herring to marry the two and give us necessary acidity to balance the sweetness of the purée and the umami profile of the broth. And a piece of cake with ice cream for dessert.

Afterwards, we realised our cake is a sort of riff on carrot cake – exploring new dimensions of the root veg/spice relationship. What other vegetables can we bake with? Rutabaga? Jerusalem artichoke?

In the meantime, keep the spices coming.

Star anise skyr ice cream

1 dl cream
60 g sugar
whole star anise
400 g skyr


Warm the cream slowly on the stove. Stir in the sugar to dissolve and the star anise to infuse. Bring to just below a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, remove star anise. Grate in some star anise, if you like more prominent flavour and flecks of spice. Stir in skyr until smooth. Freeze and spin in pacojet, or make in ice cream maker. Greek yoghurt or similarly strained yoghurt could be substituted for skyr, but skyr is best.

Parsnip cake

(adapted from Christian Puglisi )
200 g parsnip, about 2 medium
2 eggs
135 g sugar
125 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
105 g grape seed oil or other neutral oil
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar


Steam parsnips with skins until tender, then cool in ice water. Peel skins and grate roots coarsely. Beat eggs with sugar in a bowl. Add flour and baking powder until it is incorporated, then add the oil and vinegar. Fold in the grated parsnip. Fill a loaf or cake tin with batter, and bake at 160˚c for about one hour, until golden and springy. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

About the authors

Josh Evans is a Researcher at Nordic Food Lab in Copenhagen. He keeps a personal blog of his adventures in food at

Anne au Chocolat blogs about all things chocolatey at She also works with Chokolade Kompaniet in Copenhagen. Together, they spend time cooking and eating and share a love for all forms of the divine cocoa bean.

Follow Josh here

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