A Taste of Christmas

Almond & Polenta Orange Syrup Cakes with Eggnog Ice Cream

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This Christmas flavoured dessert is perfect for those warmer climes – a citrusy almond cake served with a cool, refreshing ice cream…

Well, sort of refreshing…

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I’m not sure how many of you would find a boozy spiced ice cream particularly refreshing after everything else you have most likely consumed earlier on in the meal…

I don’t know about you, but I have never quite mastered the art of pacing myself when the inevitably over-flowing table is laid for the Christmas feast.

In any case, the dark rum and spices add a delightful (and essential!) festive flavoured twist to the mix that you simply cannot overlook.

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Oh well, we are way past caring at this point, right?

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Not to exclude those of you in the northern parts of the world, digesting the earlier spoils of the day in front of a toasty warm fire. Baby, it’s cold outside… but should we really limit ourselves to the traditional custard smothered boozy Christmas pudding served with a side of heart warming (or heart stopping?) eggnog, port or mulled wine, just because the weather says we should?

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No, I think not.

A dessert to be enjoyed at any time of year, in any part of the world.
Just, perhaps not with the kids…

For the eggnog Ice Cream

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Ingredients

300ml double cream
150ml single cream
240ml whole milk
2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks
6 egg yolks
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
60ml dark rum

Method

Combine the double cream, single cream and milk in a saucepan, then break up the cinnamon sticks and add to the cream mixture. Leave to sit over night if possible.

Add the grated nutmeg to the cream mixture, then heat to a gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and leave the mixture to infuse for half an hour.

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Place the cream mixture back on to a low heat, bringing to a gentle simmer again. Meanwhile, start beating the egg yolks and sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is light and creamy.

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Remove the simmering cream mixture from the heat and leave it to sit for a minute, then pour through a sieve and onto the beaten egg yolks. Whisk together, then return to the heat.

Heat gently, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat immediately and pour into a deep, freezer safe bowl, then stir in the dark rum. Set aside to cool completely, then cover and place in the freezer.

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Take the ice cream out of the freezer after about an hour and beat to break up the frozen bits, then place it back in the freezer. Continue to do this until the ice cream is nearly set, then pour into a freezer safe container and back into the freezer.

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Due to the alcohol content, this ice cream is much softer than some of my others. This also means that it takes longer to set, but don’t worry, you won’t have to pull it out and beat as often! It will depend on your freezer, but for me, once every hour for about five hours was enough.

For the candied oranges & orange syrup

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Ingredients

3 oranges
240g caster sugar
200ml water

Method

Slice the oranges to about 1/2 inch thickness, you should get at least 12 slices from three oranges. Take the ends of the oranges and squeeze the juice out into a saucepan, then add in the sugar and water.

Add the sliced oranges, then place on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, place the lid on the saucepan and simmer for about half an hour. Keep an eye on the oranges, turning them over occasionally. The liquid should not dry up in this time, but if it does just add a little more water.

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Once the oranges are tender, but not falling apart, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

For the mini almond polenta cakes

Yield: 12 – 14 mini cakes

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Ingredients

4 eggs
175g caster sugar
250g ricotta
120ml oil
180g polenta (cornmeal)
100g almond meal
50g chopped almonds
12g (3tsp) baking powder

Method

Preheat oven to 165°C/325° F/Gas Mark 3 and grease a muffin tin well with butter.

Combine the sugar, polenta, almond meal, chopped almonds and baking powder and set aside.

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Whisk together the oil and eggs, then add the ricotta.

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Pour the ricotta mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

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Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin, then bake in the preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a cake skewer comes out clean.

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, loosen the cakes from the tin using a knife, then replace them back in the tin. Using a toothpick or cake skewer, pierce the cakes all over while they are still in the tin, then drizzle a few teaspoons of orange syrup over each. Leave to sit until completely cool

For the caramelised almonds

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Ingredients

30g chopped almonds
20g (4tsp) caster sugar

Method

Heat the almonds and caster sugar in a non-stick pan, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has melted, pour the almonds onto a baking sheet and leave to cool completely.

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To serve

Place a cake onto each plate and top with a candied orange slice. Drizzle with a little more syrup, then serve with a scoop of eggnog ice cream and a scattering of caramelised almonds.

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Enjoy… x

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