The last 5 years we have celebrated Christmas in and around the UK and it really is a winter wonderland. Twinkling lights, mulled wine, wooly jumpers, mittens, carols being played in the shops, people walking around the city with gifts wrapped in pretty ribbons and Germanic style markets pop up all over the place. If you are a child this is exactly what Christmas is described as in the songs you hear growing up. This year things were a little different, I was dreaming of a white Christmas. We were in sunny South Africa for the holidays and it definitely was not white! If anything I was battling with the humidity. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about the warmth and the sunshine but I am no longer built to cope with 35 degree heat and 90% humidity. Give me a dry heat any day.
Everyone I meet in the UK always asks me "what do you eat for your Christmas dinner when it is hot?" or "how do you celebrate Christmas in summer?" Questions that have complicated answers... We have had everything over the years from a turducken to pork belly to paella to a "braai." And in terms of celebrating Christmas; well exactly like the rest of the world, except most years we land up bobbing in the pool on a lilo with a cold glass of wine in hand instead of huddled round the fire place with mulled wine. I am getting a little off track here and the point I was trying to make was that I felt like some things were missing this year while back in the beautiful country that is South Africa, like twinkling lights, mulled wine and mittens. Again I am not complaining although I have grown to love the little details that make Christmas special in the UK and the collective spirit that grows around London in the lead up to Christmas.
As always my mind automatically went to food. What were we going to eat on Christmas day as it was going to be so hot? My aunt Laureen and my mother had it sorted! An antipasti platter and mum's homemade chicken liver pate to snack on. Paella, slow roasted lamb, pork belly, roasted vegetables and salads as the main event and a selection of desserts to finish things off. What was I going to contribute? So I told the lovely ladies in my life that I would make a dessert. My variation of Jamie Oliver's Winter Pudding Bombe, in this case a Summer Christmas Bombe.
This is a great dessert for both a white Christmas or a sunny Christmas. There is a little something for everyone and a burst of different flavours with every bite. It is refreshing and light after a heavy meal and you can tweak it anyway you like. The perfect end to a wonderful meal with family and loved ones.
1kg tub of good quality vanilla ice cream, I used a mixture of 500g vanilla and 500g of Tin Roof - an ice cream with chocolate sauce and almonds
1kg Panettone or Raisin Bread
125ml dessert wine of your choice, in this case I used Ratafia from Pierre Jourdan in Franschoek available through www.hardtofindwines.co.uk
3 Tbsp raspberry jam, I used Bonne Maman
100g tinned black cherries in juice or you can use glace cherries if you prefer
75g glace chopped mixed fruit peel
2 clementines or South African naartjies
50g shelled pistachios or any nut of your choice, pecans and almonds work just as well
300g good quality dark chocolate 70%
25g unsalted butter
Take your ice cream out and put it in the fridge to soften a little. Don't let it melt completely. Line a 2 litre glass bowl with 3 layers of clingfilm. Slice 6 2cm thick slices of Panettone from your loaf and keep the rest aside. Cut the 6 slices in half then arrange 6-8 of the halves around the inside of your bowl. It doesn't matter if they overlap, just push them in to make them fit. Drizzle about two thirds of the dessert wine over the Panettone and let is sink into the bread. Yum! Then spread the raspberry jam evenly all over.
Drain your cherries and set aside. Zest one clementine or naartjie and keep aside. Peel and slice the celmentine into thin rounds. Spoon 500 grams of ice cream into the bowl and spread thickly - it doesn't need to be pretty. Sprinkle in all the cherries, glace fruit peel and nuts. Then top with a layer of the clementine rounds. Quickly spread the remaining 500 grams of ice cream over the top, cover with the Panettone slices and drizzle with the rest of your dessert wine. Cover in clingfilm and then a dinner plate to make it all nice and compact. Pop something heavy on top and put it straight into the freezer until you need it.
20 minutes before you are due to serve take it out the freezer and pop it in the fridge. Turn it out onto a serving plate and remove the clingfilm. Snap up all your chocolate and put it in a bowl with the butter over a pot of simmering water on a low heat. Keep an eye on it and stir once or twice until it has melted. Sprinkle in the zest from the clementine and then pour the sauce over your slightly thawed bombe. Let the chocolate run down the sides and keep a little extra in a jug on the side incase someone is feeling extra indulgent. Garnish with clementine wedges or cherries and serve. This should be enough for 12 people to each get a slice.
You do not have to save this recipe for Christmas, I am sure you could use it anytime you like. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and I hope this new year is everything you dream of and more.