Don't save this pretty spice for mulled wine - try it in a delicious ice-cream, perfect for warm autumn days
Star anise is not just for Christmas - I got an enormous bag of it recently from my friend Sarah, who gives cooking lessons on the Healthier Scotland Cooking Bus project. "If anyone will know what to do with a kilo of this stuff," she said, "you will." It ventured into the odd curry or glass of warm milk, and then I hit gold with this delicious ice-cream. I used dark brown sugar for a deep, treacly taste, but white or golden will work too.
6 star anise
1 vanilla pod, split
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
150g dark brown soft sugar
4 egg yolks
400ml double cream
Prise open the individual points of each star anise, remove the shiny brown seeds, crush and put them in a saucepan with their casings, the vanilla pod, orange juice and water. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds.
Remove from the heat and allow to sit for at least an hour, or refrigerate overnight.
Strain the liquid, scraping in all the little black vanilla seeds, and pour it into a small saucepan on a medium heat. Add half the sugar, stir to a syrup, then remove from the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale, add the remaining sugar and beat again. Pour in half the syrup, beat again, then stir the rest through. Pour in the cream and beat well until it forms light, fluffy peaks (if you have an electric mixer or whisk, get it out, if you don't, swap arms and persevere!) Fold in most of the orange zest, reserving some to decorate the top.
Line a loaf tin or freezerproof container with clingfilm, leaving an excess of a few inches around each side to fold over the top, and scatter the remaining orange zest in the bottom. Pour over the cream mixture, smooth with the back of a spoon, cover loosely with clingfilm, and freeze for at least four hours.
Remove from the freezer a few minutes before serving.
Top photo: Jack Monroe's star anise and orange ice-cream. Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian