I had an incredible fennel ice cream the other day. It was made by Johnny Iuzzini of Restaurant Jean Georges. That ice cream brought fennel back into the forefront of my thinking. Since I had a glut of fennel from my shopping spree, I began to work on a an idea I had for a different kind of fennel puree. Instead of trying to preserve the light celadon color of the fennel bulbs, I opted to deepen both the color and flavor of the vegetable into something resembling black licorice candy. I pressure cooked my fennel with black strap molasses for twelve minutes. The resulting tar stained fennel bulbs were then whirled through the blender to create a silky puree. A resounding "Wow!" and a big grin were the results of my tasting the final product. Wow. What we have is a mouthful of intense, satiny anise flavor with the richness of molasses and without any of the sticky chew of licorice candy. Perhaps it will be a partner for scallops or sweetbreads. Maybe it will become a sauce for grilled squid. It could be amazing with a crackling, lacquered squab breast or perhaps, an unusual foil for sauteed skate wings with a delicate, crispy coating. What about ice cream? Johnny's was amazing. I believe that this base would prove to be a satisfying new twist on that delicious inspiration.