How to cook with liquorice - the Liquorice Heaven guide

How to cook with liquorice

The liquorice Heaven Guide

Until recently if you said ‘liquorice’ the majority of people in the UK would associate the word with Bassetts' Liquorice Allsorts, Sherbet Fountains or Black Jacks.

However, that has changed and people are rediscovering liquorice. Nigella Lawson caused a massive stir with her ‘liquorice toolbox’ and fondness for the black stuff - both confectionary and in the kitchen. Whilst she did ridiculed by some, she made the masses in the UK aware that it doesn’t just have to be cheap and cheerful but rather a gourmet experience.

Through Nigella and other public figures that are liquorice champions, recognition has grown over the last few years with some of our premium confectionary brands such as Lakrids by Bülow now being stocked in top end stores such as the food hall at Harrods. At the same time, the number of recipes available from top chefs that use liquorice root as a sophisticated and elegant cooking ingredient has sky rocketed.

The UK is now starting to discover the love of liquorice and catch up with other countries, particularly Nordic ones, where liquorice confectionary has been an institution for more than a century and more popular than chocolate!

A very brief history of liquorice

Liquorice root bases its origins in medical use and is widely believed to have medicinal properties. It has been used as such for millennia from China to Ancient Egypt and beyond.

Its use in confectionary is relatively recent, the first processes to create it only being developed by Giorgio Amarelli in 1731 using roots from the fields of Calabria, Italy.

If you want to know more, take a look at our articles about liquorice health benefits and how liquorice root is processed.

What type of liquorice to use for cooking?

Liquorice is not actually a sweet but in fact a very versatile spice that provides umami to both savoury and sweet dishes. Glycyrrhizic acid is found in the root and gives liquorice its distinctive bittersweet and salty flavour with notes of anise and fennel.

Glycyrrhiza glabra (Liquorice to you and I) grows in many parts of Europe and Asia, but all the top end liquorice confectionary brands (Amarelli, Haupt Lakrits, Lakrids by Bülow) source the raw root or powder from the fields of Calabria, Italy and with good reason – it is the best in the world!  Liquorice loves the soils and climate in this part of Italy and grows abundantly. As the ground is so mineral-rich, the plants are able to produce large amounts of glycyrrhizic acid whereas elsewhere in the world, growers & processors need to use additives and sugar.

Recipes typically call for one of five types:

Liquorice Root

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Liquorice Powder

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Soft Liquorice /

Liquorice Sticks

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Liquorice Pellets

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Decorative Garnishes

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Recipes featuring liquorice

We have collated some inspiring sources of recipes to help start you on your journey.

From sticks to syrup: delicious sweet and savoury recipes

Liquorice: A Cookbook

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Great British Chefs

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Championing Liquorice

Nigella Lawson

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The Liquorice Heaven Recipe Collection

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