easy peasy, make-ahead showstopper – ice cream and chocolate Christmas pudding

Last night we had a crowd of 13 over for dinner.  I found myself flicking through Jamie Oliver’s ‘Great Britain’ for inspiration and stumbled across this genius dessert. I tinkered with the recipe a bit to suit my tastes and fell in love with the results. I think you’ll love it too because it is so delish, easy peasy to make and a bit of a showstopper.  It can be made ages ahead as it is kept in the freezer, meaning you can casually pull it out at a moment’s notice.

I adore my traditional English Christmas dinner but I’m not a big Christmas pudding fan.  I don’t like Christmas cake either but I do make it for my family using this recipe from darling Nigella. So I’ve been on a life-long quest to find a dessert I can have on Christmas day while everyone else gobbles their pud. Well chaps, I’ve found it and I know this is going to be the thing I make every year from now on.

English readers of a certain age will go all misty-eyed at the memory of that synthetic arctic roll we used to be given at childrens parties.  Well, this is like the fancy big sister of that.  Excited? Well here we go…

DSC_0087Ingredients (serves 12) – or you can halve the ingredients and make a smaller one in a 1 liter bowl

1 Panettone (the Trader Joe’s one I used was 26oz / 750g)

4 tablespoons Cointreau, vermouth or sherry (or fresh squeezed orange juice if you don’t drink)

100g (3.5oz or around half a cup) candied or crystallized stem ginger cut into small pieces – each piece around the size of a pea

100g (3.5oz) good dark chocolate, broken into small pieces by bashing the still wrapped bar on the counter

1 liter (33oz) good vanilla ice cream

To finish

1 orange (zest only)

200 g (7oz) good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

To make

1. Get your ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready

2. Find a bowl that will hold 2 liters (66oz) of water. I filled my measuring jug and started pouring it into all my mixing bowls like a crazy lady until I found the right size. Whatever shape bowl you pick is the shape your finished pud will be, so try and get something with a nice round bottom 😉

3. Use your hand to rub the inside of the bowl with a little water then line it with 3 long strips of clingfilm (plastic wrap for American readers). The water helps the wrap stick to the bowl.You want enough wrap so that, after the strips are crossed over each other inside the bowl, you have some left hanging over the sides

4. Lay your Panettone on its side and use a serrated bread knife to cut 2cm (1 inch) thick slices as neatly as you can.  You’ll get around 5-6 circular slices. Cut all but two of the slices in half so you are left with two circular slices and the rest in half moon shapes

5. Put one of the circles in the bottom of the bowl then put the half circles around the side of the bowl, slightly overlapping them.  Squish them together as you place them.  You can be rough and ready so don’t stress

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half way through lining

6. You’ll be left with one circle so set that aside and sprinkle the Panettone with either Cointreau, vermouth or sherry

7. Use a big spoon to scoop a third of your ice cream into the bottom of your panettone lined bowl. I found it very sticky so ended up using my hand to push it down.  You need to it to be tightly packed

8. Sprinkle the ice cream with your ginger pieces.  Make sure they are even-ish. Then top with the next third of ice cream, flattening again with your hands

9. Sprinkle the ice cream with the dark chocolate fragments (if they are too big they make it tricky to slice the finished dessert). Then finish with the final third of ice cream. Squish again then lay the circle of panettone on top and fold any ends of the side pieces of panettone over

two thirds of the ice cream in

two thirds of the ice cream in

10.  Use the plastic wrap to cover the panettone then take a plate or a pan lid that is small enough to fit inside the bowl but big enough to fit almost to the edge

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11. Transfer the bowl to the freezer then use something heavy that is already in your freezer to weigh down the plate/lid.  This will help everything squish together and firm up as it freezes. Leave it for 4 hours or for weeks until you area ready to eat it

12.  When you want to eat it, take it out of the freezer and melt the dark chocolate. I melt it in a glass jug in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

13. Take the weighted plate off and unwrap the plastic wrap at the bottom of the pudding so that you expose the panettone base.  Then put a plate or cake stand (it really does deserve a cake stand) on the top of the bowl and flip it over so that the plastic wrapped dessert pops out of the bowl and onto the cake stand. Sometime you need to run the bowl under warm water for a few seconds to help loosen the cake within

14. Pull off all the plastic wrap then immediately pour the chocolate over the top of the cake.  Do this bit with an audience as it is an ooh-aah moment.  Then for a final flourish (and to keep your friends drooling for a few seconds longer) use a Microplane zester to zest an orange on to the top of the melted chocolate. Slice and eat immediately with any extra chocolate poured over the slice.  If you have leftover after serving, wrap it in foil and put it in the freezer quickly.  The photo below is the leftover cake so the chocolate has hardened.  It was too late at night to shoot when I first served it.

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