Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas food ideas: Christmas ice cream and jazzed up fruit

Even though I love Christmas, I don't love most Christmas desserts. Christmas cake, plum pudding, mince pies and shortbread all fall squarely in the category of Things I Dislike (although I do like gingerbread, at least).

I used to think that peel accounted for my dislike of the Christmas cake, pudding and mince pies. However, I suspect that it actually goes deeper than that. Something about the overall texture and flavour of those products just doesn't work for me, even though I like fruit and dried fruit.

Because my sister shares these taste aversions, my family has always had multiple Christmas desserts. The non-traditional one, which also has the benefit of suiting Australian summer weather, is Christmas ice cream. I don't know if my Mum ever had a recipe or just made the idea up, but her version usually consisted of vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips, crushed meringues, chopped marshmallows, and glace cherries mixed in. Sometimes chocolate or strawberry ice cream sauce was mixed through too.

This ice cream combination was set in a deep bowl, so that when inverted on to a serving plate it resembled a pudding or cake.

My versions are in mini form, because my freezer isn't large enough to cope with a larger creation

One of the great things about this dessert is that it is really doesn't require a recipe. You can use whatever ice cream base you like, mix in whichever ingredients you like, and present it in any way you like. I have noted my version of my Mum's recipe below, but I don't think you can go very wrong with modifying this concept.

Christmas Ice Cream
No peel to be found
Vegan if made with dairy-free options

Makes 6 - 8 individual servings

Double the recipe to make 1 full-sized 'pudding' serving

1 L dairy-free vanilla soy ice cream (I used Sanitarium), or any ice cream or frozen yoghurt of choice
~150g (3/4 - 1 cup) dark or dairy-free chocolate chips
~60g (1/2 cup) dried strawberry pieces, roughly chopped
~100g (1/2 cup) glace cherries, roughly chopped
Strawberries and chocolate syrup, to serve

Remove the ice cream from the freezer and allow to soften slightly
Meanwhile, add the chocolate chips, dried strawberries and glace cherries to a mixing bowl
Add the softened ice cream and mix through well
Spoon into individual ramekins or silicon bakeware muffin cups (I used the latter and they helped with removing the ice cream for serving)
Allow to set in the freezer for several hours or overnight

When ready to use, remove from the freezer and allow to soften very slightly
Run a warm knife around the inside of the ramekin, if you're not using silicon baking cups
Invert onto a serving plate and return to the freezer until ready to serve
Add strawberries and chocolate syrup as desired

If making a double batch, just set the ice cream in a large bowl-shaped dish. 

The individual servings can be eaten with a spoon, but you can also slice them as pictured, and the slicing method works well if making a larger batch in a single bowl.


The other thing that's easy is making fruit that little bit more Christmassy, either to complement your dessert or to round out a Christmas-themed breakfast. I traditionally took responsibility for Christmas breakfast in my family, and I had a lot of fun presenting fruit in interesting and/or attractive ways.

Fruit shapes and fruit kebabs 

Definitely no recipe required here! Use cookie cutters to make fruit shapes of your choosing (rockmelon, watermelon and pineapple all work well for cutting out shapes), and thread skewers to make fruit kebabs of your choosing.

Do you have a favourite Christmas dessert? Or is there anyone else who dislikes Christmas cake?


  1. Those first two paragraphs could have come straight from my head! Although, we me, I know it mostly is the peel; that's what makes me feel like I'm going to throw up when I try anything Christmas-pudding-y! Ever since I started cooking, I've made sure to have a different dessert on offer at Christmas. Last year was a raspberry granita, which I"m really tempted to make again :) Love the dairy-free ice cream idea!

  2. I'd much prefer traditional christmas desserts to ice cream and meringue which are often summer desserts but I do love the sound of your icecream and I finally found a summer pudding to love last summer - plus I love fruit salads at this time of year - and I love your fruit skewers - I tried some once with banana dipped in chocolate and crushed nuts as part of the skewers and that was great, if a little less healthy - perhaps your yoghurt coating would also work this way

  3. My boyfriends mother makes a wide variety of cookies every year that are really good... my mom also bakes an assortment of things, though she doesn't really enjoy being in the kitchen! I've never had any fruitcake or fruity Christmas desserts... they just don't look appealing?
    A pretty fruit salad is always welcome, though.

  4. I've always liked Christmas cake etc - but Mr BBB HATES IT. For him it is a texture thing too....and he hates the fruit taht has been cooked into it

  5. fruits icecream. wow!

  6. I am a fruit mince pie tragic - BUT this icecream dish looks amazing and I'm going to give it a shot. I like the mini version idea too~

  7. Wouldn't it be nice if they did peel-free Christmas goods, as well as the peel-free hot cross buns that are now available (to my relief!). In the meantime, raspberry granita also sounds very appealing - and very Christmassy.

  8. I love that idea of dipping fruit skewers in chocolate or yoghurt and coating with nuts. That would take them from breakfast to dessert with aplomb :)

  9. It is rather refreshing to hear that there are families who don't do fruitcake at all! Perhaps Americans are less traditional that way? Cookies would suit me much more so I like your approach.

  10. Funny! Mr Bite loves it - and mince pies - and doesn't understand my dislike at all. I guess the plus for you (or minus, depending on how you look at it!) is that there is all the more for you to eat :)

  11. Thanks Liz - the mini ones are great fun and make life easy if you are short on freezer space (as we always are!).

  12. I am rather neutral about the dried fruit-filled christmas desserts that Australia (and probably other British-descended places) is so keen on. We were a cookie-centric family at Christmas when I was growing up. Andy's mum makes an ice cream Christmas pudding like this one, but filled with the traditional dried fruits - raisins, sultanas, currants and peel. She is really lovely and makes a vegan one when we're down, but I think strawberries, chocolate and cherries sounds better! Andy and I tend to do trifle at christmas, and we'll be doing a tropical version this year. I tested the idea out for dinner with a friend yesterday, and it was great! And no need to turn the oven on, which is a godsend at the moment.

  13. Cookie-centric would suit me wonderfully :) I like the concept of making an ice cream Christmas pudding with the traditional dried fruit too...and also vegan trifle. I'll look forward to seeing your tropical version! No oven is certainly a good thing at this time of year.


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