Sunday, October 25, 2009

Christmas Pudding Icecream

In Australia there is a lovely tradition of ‘Christmas in July’ largely celebrated by those expatriated from the British Isles who find the sweltering heat of Christmas at the height of Summer somewhat alien. Embracing Christmas celebrated the cooler weather in July makes quaffing mulled wine, roasting chestnuts on an open fire and tucking in to roast turkey (slightly) more palatable than the unseasonal 40 degrees C Christmas day often brings.

For me, however, Christmas is synonymous with scorching heat, icy cold drinks and long warm days punctuated only by early morning swims and boozy lunches at nearby vineyards and breweries. Like all celebrations, it is the small rituals that suggest the season, such as the trek to the store to ‘buy ice’ when the esky starts to take on the ambient temperature of a broiler or lining up to collect the turkey at Mondos on Christmas eve where the wonderful Vince always has a joint of meat roasting on the BBQ, and plenty of bottles of icy water in nearby eskies- a quiet oasis from the searing sun. Try as I might, Christmas in the cold, however magical will never be ‘Christmas’ as I know it.

This year, I decided to play on that theme and have a Christmas in July during the Irish ‘Summer’. While far from the stifling heat of my homeland, it was still a great opportunity to BBQ the turkey and venison, make macadamia stuffing and finally, finish off with boozy Christmas pudding icecream.

The base icecream recipe I adopted from Jules at Stone Soup, which is delicious without fruit or alcohol also. As I write this years Christmas puddings, made today, have been steaming away in my kitchen for 5 hours, turning my kitchen into a sauna and causing me to pause and consider whether this icecream would have been a painfree (and delicious) alternative!

6 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
1t vanilla extract
pinch salt
300mL double cream
300mL full fat milk
(Note: for those in Ireland Glenisk do amazingly rich both milk and cream)
100g dark chocolate, chopped (Green and Black’s dark cooking 72% is my favourite)
3T dutch process cocoa powder (I used G&B again)

50mL Pimms (or Brandy/Whiskey/Irish Mist)

150g dried fruit (I used mixed peel, sultanas and raisins)

50g glace cherries, some reserved for serving
50g chopped almonds (optional)

For the 'custard':

15mL Cointreau/Grand Marnier
Pouring cream

In a processor or with a balloon whisk, whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt together until pale. Bring cream and milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat, add broken chocolate and stir until melted. Pour this mixture over the egg mixture and sift in cocoa, then add the Pimms and stir until well combined. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over a low heat for a few minutes. Do not leave unattended, it is important to stir constantly. The mixture will thicken slightly.

Strain the mixture through a sieve into a clean freezer-proof container and allow to cool. Cover completely and freeze for three hours. Remove from freezer and stir in dried fruit and nuts (if used). Cover tightly and return to freezer for another 6 hours.
Serve in scoops in ramekins, topped with the pouring cream mixed with Cointreau and the reserved glace cherries. 

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