Some foodie friends came for dinner last month bearing white truffles, Pinot Noir and extra virgin olive oil (my kind of people). They run a swanky grocers in Chelsea and to be honest, I slightly dread having them over, because despite the fact we love them very much, they are such good hosts (and even better guests) that I worry my cooking is not going to be up to par.
My tip with dinner parties is to do as much as you can in advance, to avoid a mid-course nervous breakdown. So I did a burrata for starter – unaware until I wrote it down that it rhymes – with olive-studded bread from a fabulous new Italian deli near my house, before serving Claire’s legendary pork ragu recipe which I made the day before, alongside some roasted broccoli and M&S mash potato. I know I should know better and make my own, but I find the stress of making lump-free mash under scrutiny too much, so decanted this into a terracotta dish for the homemade look.
But the star of the show was this Panettone ice cream bomb. It was a trial run for Christmas – Claire is cooking this year – hurrah! – and as well as our mum’s Christmas pudding, we will be eating this for afters. It can be made well in advance and only takes 15m to throw together. You literally just hollow out a Panettone, whip up some double cream and condensed milk, stir in some sour cherries and pistachios, fill up the hollow and freeze for at least 24 hours. Just before serving, you pour over melted chocolate and some more nuts and berries and wait for the applause. I am obsessed with panettone and my greedy preference is normally eating it in chunks straight from the tin, but I am always looking for new ways to serve it. In the past these have included baked Alaska and eggy bread, but this is my new favourite.
The recipe is from Good Housekeeping mag – hook, line and sinker, bar swapping glace cherries for sour, and omitting mixed peel (bleugh!).
Takes: 15m plus 24 hr minimum freezing
Serves: 6 but you can scale up with a bigger Panettone
400g (approx) panettone
175ml condensed milk
300ml double cream
50g shelled unsalted pistachios
50g sour dried cherries
50g flaked almonds
75g dark chocolate
20g shelled pistachios roughly chopped
25g sour dried cherries
15g flaked almonds
Slice the top off the panettone to use as a lid. Hollow out the centre of the panettone with your fingers, leaving a 3cm shell. Eat the left over panettone. In a large bowl or freestanding mixer whisk or beat the milk and cream until it forms soft peaks. Stir in nuts and cherries. Fill the panettone with the mixture and top with the lid. Wrap in clingfilm and freeze overnight. This is easy enough for young children to do with supervision and older children to do on their own.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a bain marie. Cool briefly. Take panettone out of freezer and pour the chocolate over it and sprinkle remaining fruit and nuts. Allow chocolate to set for 10m. Serve in slices. Refreezes well too, although I doubt there will be any left.