panettone ice cream cake – the perfect Christmas dessert

panettone ice cream cake

I adore panettone almost as much as I love a Christmas chocolate orange. I can’t abide Christmas pudding so this panettone ice cream cake is what make for after my Christmas dinner. I’ve been on a life-long quest to find a dessert I can have on Christmas day while everyone else gobbles their pud and this is it.

I think you’ll love it too because it is so delish, easy peasy to make and a bit of a showstopper. It can be made ages ahead as it is kept in the freezer, meaning you can casually pull your panettone ice cream cake out at a moment’s notice.

Make a panettone ice cream cake loaf or a full-on pudding shaped bombe

I originally made this as a bombe – in a bowl so that once it is turned out it has the same shape as a Christmas pudding.

This year, I had some ingredients left over so I made a loaf tin version of the panettone ice cream cake too. I also put some of the chocolate sauce inside the cake before freezing it. The loaf tin doesn’t have the same wow factor looks wise, but tastes the same and is quicker to make. I’ve included the recipe for the loaf version underneath the original pudding shaped version.

English readers of a certain age will go all misty-eyed at the memory of that synthetic arctic roll we used to be given at children’s parties. Well, this is like the fancy big sister of that. Excited? Well here we go…


Panettone ice cream cake  – large bombe ingredients (serves 12)

1 Panettone (around 26oz / 750g) The Lidl one in the UK is fab in the US I use one form Trader Joe’s

4 tablespoons Cointreau, vermouth or sherry (or fresh squeezed orange juice if you don’t drink)

100g (3.5oz or around half a cup) candied or crystallized stem ginger cut into small pieces – each piece around the size of a pea

100g (3.5oz) good dark chocolate, broken into small pieces by bashing the still wrapped bar on the kitchen counter

1 litre (33oz) good vanilla ice cream

To finish

1 orange (zest only)

200 g (7oz) good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

To make the panettone ice cream cake bombe

1. Get your ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready.

2. Find a bowl that will hold 2 litres (66oz) of water. I filled my measuring jug and started pouring it into all my mixing bowls like a crazy lady until I found the right size. Whatever shape bowl you pick is the shape your finished pud will be, so try and get something with a nice round bottom 😉

3. Use your hand to rub the inside of the bowl with a little water then line it with 3 long strips of clingfilm (plastic wrap for American readers). The water helps the wrap stick to the bowl.You want enough wrap so that, after the strips are crossed over each other inside the bowl, you have some left hanging over the sides.

4. Lay your Panettone on its side and use a serrated bread knife to cut 2cm (1 inch) thick slices as neatly as you can.  You’ll get around 5-6 circular slices. Cut all but two of the slices in half so you are left with two circular slices and the rest in half moon shapes.

5. Put one of the circles in the bottom of the bowl then put the half circles around the side of the bowl, slightly overlapping them.  Squish them together as you place them. You can be rough and ready so don’t stress.


half way through lining

6. You’ll be left with one circle so set that aside and sprinkle the Panettone with either Cointreau, vermouth or sherry.

7. Use a big spoon to scoop a third of your ice cream into the bottom of your panettone lined bowl. I found it very sticky so ended up using my hand to push it down. You need to it to be tightly packed.

8. Sprinkle the ice cream with your ginger pieces. Make sure they are even-ish. Then top with the next third of ice cream, flattening again with your hands.

9. Sprinkle the ice cream with the dark chocolate fragments (if they are too big they make it tricky to slice the finished dessert). Then finish with the final third of ice cream. Squish again then lay the circle of panettone on top and fold any ends of the side pieces of panettone over.

two thirds of the ice cream in

two thirds of the ice cream in

10.  Use the plastic wrap to cover the panettone then take a plate or a pan lid that is small enough to fit inside the bowl but big enough to fit almost to the edge.


11. Transfer the bowl to the freezer then use something heavy that is already in your freezer to weigh down the plate/lid.  This will help everything squish together and firm up as it freezes. Leave it for 4 hours or for weeks until you are ready to eat it.

12.  Half an hour before you are ready to eat it (or 15 minutes if your kitchen is very hot), take the panettone ice cream cake out of the freezer and melt the dark chocolate. I melt it in a glass jug in the microwave for about 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds.

13. Take the weighted plate off and unwrap the plastic wrap at the bottom of the pudding so that you expose the panettone base.  Then put a plate or cake stand (it really does deserve a cake stand and looks stunning on this one) on the top of the bowl and flip it over so that the plastic wrapped dessert pops out of the bowl and onto the cake stand. Sometime you need to run the bowl under warm water for a few seconds to help loosen the cake within.

14. Pull off all the plastic wrap then immediately pour the chocolate over the top of the panettoen ice cream cake. Do this bit with an audience as it is an ooh-aah moment. Then for a final flourish (and to keep your friends drooling for a few seconds longer) use a Microplane zester to zest an orange on to the top of the melted chocolate. Slice and eat immediately with any extra chocolate poured over the slice.  If you have leftover after serving, wrap it in foil and put it in the freezer quickly. The photo below is the leftover cake so the chocolate has hardened. It was too late at night (and I had enjoyed a few too many Christmas drinks) to shoot when I first served it.


Or make a smaller panettone ice cream loaf

Ingredients Serves 8

Around 300g (10 oz) panettone. This recipe uses about ¼ a large loaf.

Around 500ml (1 pint) good vanilla ice cream

150g (5.5 oz) dark chocolate (half for the cake and half for the final pouring sauce)

300ml (10 fl oz) double cream – heavy cream in the US (half for the cake and half for the final pouring sauce)

around 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Optional – 3 tablespoons finely chopped stem ginger or the juice of 1 orange or 4 tablespoons orange liqueur

The zest of an orange and a sprinkle of sea salt flakes

A 1 litre (2lb) loaf tin. Or use a round cake tin that holds 1 litre of liquid.

To make the panettone ice cream cake loaf

  1. Take the ice cream out of the freezer so that it starts to soften slightly.
  2. Break half of the dark chocolate into small pieces and put in a glass jug with half of the cream. Microwave for a minute. It will look like the chocolate isn’t melting, but brown spots will appear in the cream as you stir it. Keep stirring with a silicone spatula and the chocolate will melt into the cream turning into a dark glossy sauce. Stir in a pinch of sea salt and set aside.
  3. Rub the inside of a 1 litre (2lb) container under the cold water tap. This dampness will help the cling film stick. Line the inside of the tin with a large piece of cling film so that it hangs over each end and at the sides.
  4. Slice a 1cm (half inch) slice of the panettone. Cut the slice in half so that it will fit in the bottom of the loaf tin. Place 1-2 slices in a single layer into the bottom of the lined tin. If it doesn’t quite come to the edges, pull a bit of panettone from the loaf and squidge it in. Optional – Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of orange juice or orange liqueur onto the panettone.
  5. Scoop the vanilla ice cream on top of the panettone layer and squish it into a flat, roughly 3cm layer. Really press it down with the flat of a spoon.
  6. Pour the chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream and spread evenly. If using chopped stem ginger, sprinkle it evenly over the chocolate.
  7. Finish with a final 1cm layer of panettone then wrap the tin in cling film. Put a large plate on top and put it in the freezer. Put something a heavy freezer parcel heavy on top of the plate to weigh it down. Freeze for 3 hours or longer.
  8. Once the cake is frozen, you can take it out of the tin but keep the cling film in place. Wrap it tightly in foil and then keep it in the freezer.
  9. Take it from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Use this time to make the remainder of the cream and chocolate into a sauce – in the same way as you made the chocolate sauce layer of the cake.
  10. When you’re ready to serve, get a jug of boiling water and put the blade of a knife in it. Unwrap the cake and slice it on a board or put the whole cake on a platter. Serve the slices of cake with some of the hot chocolate sauce, a sprinkle of sea salt flakes and a little orange zest. If you don’t want to serve the whole thing, quickly slice it, then wrap up the remaining block and put it back in the freezer.

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