I have been going through a bit of a fennel obsession for the past year or so now. It all started when my sister and I had dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants – Rolf n Daughters. If you are ever in Nashville you definitely need to go! Anyway, we had this wonderful dessert that was topped with candied fennel and my mind was seriously blown. I had never had fennel in a sweet dish before and all of the sudden it all made since. What is “all?” I don’t really know but it was one of those foodie moments where you have a “AHA” moment.
About a month after that we went to Jeni’s ice cream and I decided to give it a try to see how my stomach would feel after about three years of not eating it. They had a seasonal fennel ice cream on the menu and I about freaked out and immediately ordered it. It was just as magical as I expected it to be and I knew I had to recreate it.
Fast-forward about a year later and our CSA started putting fennel in our baskets and I knew I had to try and make some sort of ice cream with it.
I tried to candy it with honey first and that tasted amazing but the texture just wasn’t right. I finally realized that to get optimal flavor and texture I really should just infuse the milk over a long span of time.
I usually don’t have the patience to wait on some ice cream batter to set in the refrigerator but this one really is worth the wait. The chocolate ganache is a great addition to the fennel flavor. Adds a layer of depth and richness to a sweet herbal ice cream. It really is the perfect seasonal treat right now.
- 2 cans full-fat coconut milk, divided
- 1 cup coarsely chopped fennel bulb
- 1 cup fennel fronds (top of the fennel)
- 8 whole cardamom ponds
- 3 oz dates, pitted (I prefer date lady)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt (I prefer pink Himalayan)
- ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk
- 3 oz dark chocolate (65% or higher)
- Heat a saucepan to medium heat and add one can of coconut milk, chopped fennel, fronds and cardamom pods. Start to heat the mixture but do not boil.
- Add the other can of coconut milk to a high-speed blender with the dates, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. Blend until mixture is smooth. Strain through a sieve and in to the saucepan.
- Let it steep (do not let it boil) for another 30 minutes and then remove from the heat.
- Let mixture cool to room temperature. Pour into a bowl and cover. Let the ice cream mixture set in the refrigerator for another 8-10 hours or overnight.
- Before churning the ice cream prepare the chocolate ganache. Place a glass bowl over a small saucepan filled with a little water. Add the coconut milk and heat. Add the dark chocolate and stir frequently until melted. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Strain the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the fennel and cardamom pods.
- Pour the ice cream batter in to your ice cream maker and follow according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once finished churning pour about one-third of the batter in a large container and then drizzle some ganache on top to create a ribbon affect. Repeat with another two layers of ice cream and ganache and freeze the ice cream until solid.
- Remove from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving.