Christmas pudding ice cream

I’m always dubious of recipes that start with “Wondering what to do with those leftovers?”. Er no. I’ve eaten them already. But some things are worth buying leftovers for, especially when you can get delightful little Christmas puddings that cook in the microwave in a minute flat.

The recipe is based on this one from David Lebovitz via Edd Kimber and requires making custard from scratch. Which scares me. As with so much in life however, a bit of calm and patience goes a long way, and it’s worth it for this exceptionally creamy ice cream with a vague hint of cinnamon and spice. If you have an ice cream maker like ours, you’ll need to make sure it’s in the freezer 24 hours before you’re planning on making this. We keep ours in there since it’s as good a cupboard as any.

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Start by heating 500 ml whole milk and 250ml of double cream (look it’s Christmas. I make no promises of health) with a tsp of cinnamon and one of mixed spice.

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Separate 5 eggs to get 5 egg yolks (Freeze the whites to make meringues. Or egg white omelettes if you’re weird). Once the milk mixture has boiled turn it off the heat. Whisk the egg yolks using a hand whisk and then slowly add the warm milk, a ladle at a time (a helper comes in handy here, even if they’re quite begrudging). This tempers the egg so that it doesn’t turn into scrambled egg as soon as it hits the hot pan. After a few ladles, pour in the rest of the milk in a slow stream, whisking the whole time and then scrape back into the pan.

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This is the tricky bit. Cook this custard over a low heat until it thickens. All recipes say “until it coats the back of the spoon”. I don’t know what this means. Possibly when it’s thick enough to draw a line through. When it reaches 68C if you have a thermometer. My main method of testing is, if I eat a bit, it’s like eating custard. Anyway, it should take between about eight and ten minutes.

While you’re doing this, ask your begrudging helper to stop whatever they’re doing and pour another 250ml of double cream into a bowl and place a sieve over the top. When the custard is done pour it through the sieve into the cream (to get rid of any lumps. I had no lumps. I win.)  and stir it in. Place this bowl into a bigger bowl filled with iced water and stir to cool.

Once cool stir in two tablespoons of rum. Any suitable spirit will do, vodka, brandy or whiskey, but this spiced rum seems to be in keeping with a theme. More than taste, the alcohol is important because it lowers the freezing temperature and stops the ice cream freezing too solidly. Now refrigerate for an hour or so.

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Then pour into your ice cream maker and churn for half an hour. Cook two little Christmas puddings (each 100g) and then spread them on a plate to cool. What should be common sense, but is instead bitter experience, tells you not to put something hot into something you’re trying to freeze.

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The ice cream will expand as it freezes. Once this has happened, crumble the pudding in with the churner still going then turn it off as soon as it’s all in so as not to break it up too much. Tip the ice cream into a tub, it won’t be solid, more the texture of very soft scoop, but will freeze firm.

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The ice cream is great on its own, or is a perfect topping for hot mince pies. But for now, it’s a work in progress, sitting tight in my freezer, waiting for visitors.

Update: The visitors enjoyed the ice cream very much.

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