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Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas traditions: Icecream plum pudding

We have fairly unconventional Christmas traditions in our family. There’s no turkey recipe going back generations, no angel passed down through the family to adorn the top of the tree. Our traditions are more festive season behaviours.

Each year, we can rely on my brothers both sleeping off nasty hangovers on the couch until noon. We can be assured almost all of us will have peeked at our presents before the big day. It’s also the norm to have the world’s ugliest Christmas tree. One year a neighbour gifted us a spider-infested tree that was far too tall for our living room. Myself, my sister and brothers all sat around the tree, giggling and singing "Oh Christmas Tree" while Mum and Dad tried to cover the "carolling" with small talk. Later that night, after the fifth spider-sighting, we sprayed the tree with so much insect repellant the few healthy leaves it did have died within a few days.

There is one exception to our lack of tradition: Mum’s icecream plum pudding. Normally the result of leftover fruit from pudding or panforte, icecream plum pudding is a mix of fruit, nuts, some kind of booze and icecream all frozen together in a bowl for the big reveal on Christmas day.

This year, the icecream was made from custard with vanilla and sherry. I used Heilala vanilla paste, from a New Zealand company operating in Tonga. Heilala* use sustainable farming practises and employ Tongan locals to grow the beans. No need to feel guilty about this one – unless you’re like me and polish off three plates in one sitting.

* I’m not being paid for this post, I honestly just enjoy the product. And seriously, this is my sixth post – I’m hardly earning money for this gig.


250ml milk
300ml cream
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla paste
1/3 cup semi sweet sherry
100g caster sugar
5 egg yolks

Fruit filling

2/3 cup each halved glace cherries, sliced dried apricots, currants, slivered almonds, mixed peel and raisins
1 cup 70% chocolate pieces, roughly chopped

Bring the milk and cream to the boil with the vanilla paste. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low.

Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until pale and thick. Pour 1 cup of the milk mixture into the yolks, whisking continuously.

Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the remainder of the milk and cream and add the sherry. Stir continuously (seriously, don't take your eyes off it - those eggs will curdle the moment you turn your back). Bring the mix to 80 degrees celsius.

Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl. Cool in the refrigerator overnight. Churn according to your icecream maker's instructions.

Once churned to the consistency of soft-serve, add your fruit filling ingredients and stir to combine evenly through the icecream. Pour into your display bowl, lined with plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze, making sure no icecream is exposed to the air.


  1. Replies
    1. I'd love to hear how you go. We just finished ours and it was lovely on a particularly hot Melbourne day!