Five American Recipe Hacks Using Chinese Five Spice

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Photography by Chia Chong

When I first dipped my finger into a small pot of Chinese Five Spice, my mind started spinning. The blend of star anise, fennel, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and clove is warm and sweet and just begging to be put in places that it never thought of going. Check out these five “American Hacks” using my new favorite spice.

Ice Cream Recipes, Ice Cream Hacks, Chinese Five Spice Recipes, Chinese New Year, Libbie Summers, A food-inspired life
Chinese Five Spice Ice Cream
(vanilla ice cream with a hint of the orient)
makes 1 pint

What you need:
1 pint high quality vanilla ice cream
2 teaspoons Chinese Five Spice
Ice cream cones (optional)
What to do:
Remove ice cream from container into a bowl and allow to soften slightly. Add Chinese five spice and stir JUST to combine (do not thoroughly mix in). Scoop back into container and freeze completely before scooping into ice cream cones (optional).
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Chocolate Chinese Spice Bread
(Chinese five spiced chocolate quick bread, green tea frosting)
makes 1 loaf

What you need:
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1⁄2 cups packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup apple butter (can substitute apple sauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (can substitute extract)
1⁄4 cup milk
3 ounces chopped dark chocolate (your favorite brand)
Green Tea Frosting, recipe to follow
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a strip of parchment paper the width of your pan and long enough to hang over both sides by a couple of inches if draped across the middle (this method gives you two handles to pull the finished bread out). Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, Chinese 5 spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and butter and blend until just combined. Add the eggs, apple butter, vanilla paste, and milk. Stir gently with a wooden spoon to combine. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing gently until combined. Fold in 1⁄2 cup of the chocolate pieces.

Divide the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1⁄2 cup dark chocolate pieces down the center of each loaf lengthwise and pat them down into the batter to just below the surface. Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out. To turn out, grab each side of the parchment paper and lift. Let cool completely. Spoon Green Tea Frosting over, slice and serve.
Green Tea Frosting
3 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon matcha powder
1 cup confectioners sugar

Stir together all ingredients.

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Five Spice Bugles
makes five cups

What you need:
5 cups plain Bugles Snacks®
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
What to do:
Preheat oven to 250ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Whisk Chinese five spice into butter. Spread Bugles onto baking sheet and pour butter mixture over. Toss with hands to coat. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, for one hour. Cool and serve.

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Chinese Five Spicerdoodles
makes 40ish cookies

What you need:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
3 teaspoons ground Chinese five spiceWhat to do: 
Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cream together. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla paste and mix until combined.
Add dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just combined.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining sugar and Chinese five spice.  Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls and roll in the sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until just set (about 8-10 minutes).

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Chinese Five Spice Donut Holes
(small and spicy donut poppers)
makes 100

What You Need:
2 tablespoons plus 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted, plus more for greasing
1 1⁄3 cups warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1⁄3 cup plus 1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice, divided
What to do:
Grease a large mixing bowl with butter and set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer, stir together the milk, yeast, 1⁄3 cup granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons melted butter with a spoon. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and nutmeg.

Fit a dough hook on the standing mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice, and the flour mixture and beat for 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and tacky and pulls away from the side of the bowl. At this point, you can adjust the dough’s texture if needed. Add a little more milk if it is too dry, or a little more flour if it is too wet; the goal is for it to be smooth and tacky. Continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes more, until it becomes smooth and shiny. Transfer the dough to the prepared mixing bowl and turn over so both sides of the dough are buttered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.

Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Punch the dough down and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to 1⁄2 inch thick. Using a donut-hole cutter or a small (1-inch) ring mold, cut out circles of dough and transfer them to the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between the circles. Cover the tray with lightly greased plastic wrap. (At this point, you can refrigerate the donuts overnight then let them rise in the morning before baking.) Let the donuts rise for about 45 minutes, until they are puffed and nearly doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the remaining 11⁄2 cups granulated sugar and remaining Chinese five spice and set aside. Pour the remaining 1 cup butter into a separate bowl.

Bake the donut holes for 5 to 7 minutes, until the bottoms of the donuts are just golden brown. The donuts should be pale on the top, and the insides just barely baked through. They will continue to bake after they are removed from the oven. Cool for 2 minutes, then dip them into the melted butter just to moisten and roll them in the Chinese five spice-sugar mixture to coat. Serve immediately.


DIY: How To Make Licorice Twists

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Black (in this case holiday green) Licorice –you love it or you hate it.
I love it and Chia hates it. We both find beauty in the making.

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Holiday Green Licorice Twists
(A dark green holiday slant on traditional black licorice –we used all of our black food coloring testing this recipe…a happy accident if ever there was one.)
Makes: 16
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 60 minutes
Difficulty: Medium

What you need:
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup blackstrap molasses
pinch of kosher salt
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 ½ tablespoon anise extract
Green, blue, red and yellow food coloring

What to do:
1. Gather your ingredients.

2. Stir together the butter, sugar, dark corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, salt and blackstrap molasses in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat.

3. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan and allow the mixture to come to a boil.  Continue to boil until the temperature reaches 255º F.

4. Remove from heat and, working quickly, stir in the whole wheat flour and food coloring until well combined and perfect color is reached.

5. Stir in anise extract.

6. Pour mixture into a parchment paper lined 8-inch square baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Chill for 30 minutes.

7. Cut into 1/2-inch wide strips and twist!

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8. Chill for an additional 30 minutes to set before serving.
Check back in tomorrow and I’ll show you how this licorice inspired a Christmas Tree!


The New Cracker Jack (holiday snack)

By Libbie Summers (from Brown Sugar by Libbie Summers, Short Stack Editions)
Photography by Andy Lyons

Green handsaw. Pink sword. Gold pistol. What prison inmate thought up these toys for Cracker Jacks, anyway? As a kid, I’d devour box after box of the crunchy caramel-coated popcorn snack, all the while questioning what kind of person came up with this “surprise inside” marketing plan. Then one day, Cracker Jacks became cool. Suddenly, my “surprise inside” was a small book of temporary tattoos, a kid’s very definition of awesome. This recipe for my grownup version has a rich, crunchy, deep molasses flavor, as well as its own “surprise inside”—a hint of cayenne to finish each bite. The kick doesn’t linger—it stays around about as long as that first temporary tattoo stayed on my skin.
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Cracker Jerks
makes 10 cups

What You Need:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1⁄2 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup Spanish peanuts, husks removed (available in most grocery stores)
1 cup light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

What To Do:
Preheat the oven to 250°. In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add the oil and 2 popcorn kernels. Cook over high heat until the kernels pop, then add the remaining popcorn, cover and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook until the kernels stop popping, shaking the pan often. Discard any unpopped kernels and spread out the popcorn on a large, deep, nonstick, rectangular cake pan or lasagna casserole dish (I use a 14-by-10-by-4-inch nonstick cake pan). If you use a pan that isn’t nonstick, grease it with butter or nonstick cooking spray first. Toss the popcorn with the peanuts and place the pan in the preheated oven to keep warm.

Attach a candy thermometer to the side of a medium sauce- pan over medium heat and add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Allow the mixture to cook until the temperature of the candy reaches 260° to 275° on the candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.

Working quickly, remove the popcorn and peanuts from the oven and pour the hot syrup mixture in a fine stream over the popcorn to cover
it evenly. Using a nonstick spatula, carefully toss to coat. Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes, mixing every couple of minutes to evenly coat the popcorn and peanuts. Remove the pan from the oven and let the mixture cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container. The Cracker Jerks will keep for up to 10 days.
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Note: 1 tablespoon of popcorn kernels yields just over 1 cup of popped corn.
Warning: Don’t even try this with bullshit microwave popcorn.

Turnip Fries with Sweet Heat Dipping Sauce

Recipe by Brenda Anderson
Photography by Chia Chong
Styling by Libbie Summers
Wine Pairing by Grapefriend 

Not to be out shined by its potato cousin, this turnip can fry with the best of them!
Turnip Recipes, Fries, Dipping Sauce Recipes, A food-inspired Life
Turnip Fries with Sweet Heat Sauce
serves 4-6 

4 large turnip roots, peeled and sliced in to a 1/4 x 1/4-inch strips (we used a chef’s knife, but you could use a mandoline or French fry slicer)
6 cups vegetable oil
¾ cup honey
¾ sour cream
¼ cup Sriracha sauce
Sea salt

Line a baking tray with paper towels and set aside.

For the Sweet Heat Sauce: In a small mixing bowl, stir together the honey, sour cream and Sriracha. Set aside.

In a dutch oven or deep sauce pan over medium-high heat, add oil and bring to 250 degrees F (use a thermometer to gauge the temperature). Working in batches, add the turnip fries to the oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until just soft (about 4 minutes). Remove with a spyder or slotted spoon and drain onto the paper towel lined baking tray. Turn heat to high and heat oil to 350 degrees F. Plunge the fries into the oil and cook until golden brown. Remove from oil, drain onto fresh paper towels and season with additional salt to taste. Serve hot with the Sweet Heat Sauce.
Turnip Recipes, Fries, Dipping Sauce Recipes, A food-inspired life

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

By Libbie Summers
Video by Candace Brower
Assisted by David Dempsey

I. Love. Making. Brittle. What makes this not your ordinary brittle is the kick of cayenne and cinnamon…oh and the pepitas!!!
(written recipe below video)

Pepita Brittle
Candy Recipes, Pepitas, Pumpkin Seeds, Brittle Recipes,

Pepita Brittle
serves 6-8 (yields 3 cups)

What you need:
1 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup corn syrup
1 3⁄4 cups pepitas (raw hulled pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄8-1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (depending on how much heat you like)
Pinch of flake sea salt

What to do:
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large skillet over high heat, stir together the sugar, corn syrup, and 1⁄4 cup water and bring the mixture to a full boil. Stir in the pepitas with a heatproof spatula. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the syrup becomes thick and honey colored and you begin to smell the pepitas cooking. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the baking soda. Working quickly, stir in the butter, cinnamon, and cayenne and continue to stir until the butter has melted. Turn the brittle out onto the prepared baking sheet and, working quickly, use the back of your spatula to spread the mixture out to a thin 8-by-10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the top with sea salt and let the brittle cool completely, for about 20 minutes, then break into shards. Store the shards in an airtight container until ready to decorate the cake (shards will keep for 10 days).
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