I saw anise hyssop at the farmers market and couldn’t resist it. I haven’t cooked with it before and it has a strong anise flavor. (I love all things anise. Yes, even licorice candy.) What more could I ask? Well, maybe I could ask for a way to use it…yeah, that would be nice. To be honest, it sat in my fridge for a week while I tried to think of ways to eat it. (Luckily it looked just as fresh on day 7 as on day 1.)
I tore up a few pieces and tossed it in a salad; I really enjoyed that, but I just don’t eat much salad, so I wasn’t going to use a whole bunch that way. I thought of making it into a syrup, like I did the lemon basil last summer, but then what do I make with the syrup? I didn’t think a frozen yogurt would be quite right; I did consider an ice cream. Maybe a drink or a cocktail? Then I opened my cupboard (a frequent method of inspiration for me) and a box of Knox gelatin literally fell out and hit me.
Hmmm, jello could be interesting…citrus and anise pair well…HOW ABOUT JELLO SHOTS! Now, I wasn’t about to make those horrid, overly sweet, cheap-vodka-laden things everyone remembers from college. But maybe a more grown up version. Like what jello shots became when they graduated, got a real job, lost track of their frat boy rep and generally because an adult.
They turned out well, if I do say so myself. I took them to a dessert exchange and they went over wonderfully.
The Olivette is a cocktail made with gin, absinthe (or anisette) orange bitters and lemon. Between the similarity of ingredients and the olive color of the jello, it’s the perfect name for these fun little cocktail cubes.
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (Be sure to strain out any pulp and/or seeds.)
2 envelopes Knox gelatin
1/2 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp triple sec
1/2 cup gin (Bombay Sapphire)
2/3 cup anise hyssop syrup (see below)
Sprinkle the gelatin over the lemon juice and stir to combine. Let the lemon juice and gelatin sit for about 5 minutes. (This is called blooming the gelatin and will help it dissolve evenly.)
Pour the boiling water over the gelatin mixture and stir until all the gelatin is dissolved. It might take a few minutes of stirring to get all the gelatin dissolved. Once the gelatin is dissolved, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Pour into a 5 x 7 pan and refrigerate 3-4 hours (or overnight) until firmly set. The texture should be about like Jello Jigglers. (You’ll be able to easily pick up a small square without breaking it, but it will not be rubbery.) Cut into approximately 1″ squares and enjoy.
These make a great aperitif or a fun addition to an hors d’oeuvres spread.
You can use this same method to make a sweet syrup out of just about any leafy green herb. In fact, I used it for my lemon basil frozen yogurt last summer.
3/4 cup packed anise hyssop leaves
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Wash anise hyssop leaves in cold water and dry leaves. Put the leaves in a blender. Bring the sugar and water to boil in a small saucepot. Boil for a minute or so after the sugar is all dissolved. Pour the hot syrup over the anise hyssop leaves and blend the crap out of it. (I just left my blender running for about 5 minutes.) Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to get as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
Makes about 2/3 cup of syrup.
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