Re-creating Nesselrode Bula Ice Cream
I was in the mood to make ice cream, but I wanted to make something special. I tried to think back to the best ice cream I ever had. Well, that had to be Nesselrode Bula.
I know, its a weird name. Upon researching the origin of the name, I found out that Nesselrode was the name of a Russian Count, Karl Robert Nesselrode, to be exact. He had negotiated the Treaty of Paris, after the Crimean War in 1856. His Chef invented a frozen pudding that contained eggs, cream, chestnuts, candied fruit and liqueur. It was then named Nesselrode pudding. It’s funny how the count gets all the credit, and not the chef.
When I was a child, my father used to take me to “Wil Wrights” ice cream shop. Wil Wrights was a classy ice cream parlor with about 10 locations in Southern California. My dad and I used to go to the Westwood location. Wil Wrights had been around since the 40’s. It was a favorite among Hollywood moguls and actors like Clark Gable, Doris Day and Marlon Brando to name a few. I had no idea of this, as a kid. All I knew is that it was damn good ice cream, and probably their best flavor was Nesselrode Bula. They used to serve their scoops with a fresh baked Macaroon. Unfortunately, they started to close up shop in the late 60’s, with the last store closing sometime in the mid to late 70’s.
So now my task was to re-create a flavor that I had not eaten for 35 + years. Well, this task took forever. I searched blogs with people reminiscing about Wil Wrights, and there where plenty. There’s even an episode of “I Love Lucy” where Ethel won’t leave Hollywood, until she’s tried all 24 flavors of Wil Wrights ice cream. I came across someone who actually had a paper menu that dated back to 1966. This is what the menu said, word for word: Nesselrode Bula – “Piece de Resistance of Ice Creams” – Dish 45 Cents, Half Pint 75 Cents Pint, $1.40 Quart, $2.75 Cones, 5 Cents per Scoop Extra – Made with imported marrons (chestnuts), assorted fruits, Jamaican rum, and fine old brandy.
The following is my re-creation. I hope you enjoy it!
Take 1/2 cup of fresh raw pecans.
Place on a baking tray and roast for about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. I put mine in a mason jar.
Place 1/2 cup of raisins in a small saucepan.
Add 1/2 cup of dark rum. I like Myer’s rum. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and remove from heat.
Once the raisins come to room temperature, you can set them aside. I placed mine in a mason jar. It’s a good idea to do this step 1 day in advance.
Take 1/4 cup candied pineapple and 1/4 cup chopped dried sweetened cherries or Maraschino cherries and …..
do the same as you did for the raisins, except this time take 1/4 cup of water and add 3 of tablespoons of sugar. Heat on medium flame. Once the sugar has dissolved, add 1/4 cup of brandy and the candied fruit. Heat to a simmer.
Once removed from the heat and cooled to room temperature, set aside. As you can see, I like using mason jars.
Take 1 cup of whole milk and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream.
Pour into a medium sized saucepan or pot.
Add 2/3 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. I like using fine bakers sugar. Stir over low heat. The goal is to warm the milk mixture, without cooking it.
Take a medium to large sized bowl and whisk 4 large egg yolks. Remember, just the yolks only.
Now slowly add the milk/cream mixture to the beaten yolks, while whisking constantly. You don’t want to cook the eggs. This is why it has to be done slowly.
Now pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
You will need to find Chestnut Cream, or make a Chestnut puree from scratch. I found Chestnut Cream at Whole Foods. It’s imported from France.
Add 3 tablespoons of Chestnut Cream to the egg/milk mixture.
Stir the Chestnut Cream until well incorporated into the egg/milk mixture. Stir over medium-low heat for another couple of minutes.
Pour the custard through a strainer into a mixing bowl. Place the mixing bowl over an ice bath to cool. Stir until cool.
I then transferred it to a large Pyrex measuring cup, covered it with plastic wrap and placed it into the refrigerator to continue cooling. Let cool for at least 4 hours. I let mine cool overnight. By the way, it measured at 3 cups of custard.
When using an ice cream maker with a freezer bowl or canister, make sure the bowl has been frozen for at least 24 hours, or your ice cream will not freeze properly. I like to keep the bowl in a zip lock bag in the freezer at all times. That way, if the urge to make ice cream strikes, the bowl is ready.
Turn on the ice cream maker, and start adding the custard.
You will need some good dark rum and a fine cognac or brandy. Use the best stuff you have.
Add 1/4 cognac and 1/4 cup or less of dark rum to the churning ice cream. When adding alcohol to ice cream, you don’t ever want to add more than 1/2 cup total. Too much alcohol prevents the ice cream from freezing.
Now, add the candied fruit, raisins and pecans. Make sure to break up your pecans before adding. You want small pieces, not big chunks. Try not to add too much of the liquid from the fruit and raisins. You don’t want to add more alcohol.
Let the ice cream maker churn away! It should take 25 – 30 minutes.
Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container, cover and place in the freezer to harden. Homemade ice cream is denser than commercial made ice cream, so it’s softer coming out of the machine, but freezes harder than the store bought stuff. Always remove from freezer, 5 minutes prior to serving.
See how nicely it hardens.
Even better yet, is how good it tastes!
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, (yolks only)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup raw pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup candied pineapple
1/4 Maraschino cherries, or dry sweetened cherries
1/2 cup cognac (1/4 cup to be used in the ice cream, and 1/4 cup in the saucepan, when plumping up the fruit)
3/4 cup dark rum (1/4 cup in the ice cream and 1/2 cup in the saucepan)
3 tablespoons chestnut cream or puree
a pinch of salt
The first step is prepping the ingredients. You will need to toast the pecans. That’s real simple. Spread out the raw pecans onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F. for 12 minutes, turning them once during the process. Remove from heat and let cool.
Place 1/2 cup raisins into a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of dark rum. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. Allow to cool, store and set aside.
In a small saucepan, add 1/4 water and add 3 tablespoons sugar, dissolve over medium heat. Now add 1/4 cup brandy and the pineapple and cherries and heat to a simmer. Stir and remove from heat. Once it has cooled, store and set aside.
Now it’s time to make the custard base of the ice cream. In a medium sized heavy bottom saucepan, add 1 cup whole milk and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream. Turn the heat on low. Add 2/3 cup sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir frequently, making sure not to overheat or scorch it. Separate 4 egg yolks and whisk in a medium sized mixing bowl. Slowly pour the milk/cream mixture into the bowl, mixing constantly. You want to do this slowly, so that the eggs do not cook. This is called “Tempering”. Now pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Over medium-low heat, stir until the mixture starts to thicken. Add 3 tablespoons of chestnut cream or puree. Continue to stir until it’s well incorporated. Remove from heat and pour over a strainer into a mixing bowl. You can now place the mixing bowl over another larger mixing bowl filled with ice and water. Stir the mixture, to help it cool quicker. Place the custard mixture into a container and continue cooling in the refrigerator. Let it cool for at least 4 hours, before using it.
Now the fun part, assembling the ice cream: When using an ice cream maker with a freezer bowl or canister, make sure the bowl has been frozen for at least 24 hours, or your ice cream will not freeze properly. I like to keep the bowl in a zip lock bag in the freezer at all times. That way, if the urge to make ice cream strikes, the bowl is ready. Turn the ice cream maker on and start adding the custard. Add 1/4 cup cognac or fine brandy and 1/4 or less of dark rum. This is all a personal preference. It depends on how much of the alcohol flavor you want, just make sure not to add more than 1/2 cup total of alcohol, or your ice cream will not freeze properly. It’s time to now add the fruit, pecans & raisins. (Make sure to chop the pecans into smaller pieces before adding.) This is also a very personal choice. Add the amount you like. This part is not a science. Just make sure not to add too much of the liquid from the fruit and raisins. Run the machine for 25 – 30 minutes. When the ice cream starts to pull away from the sides, you know its done.
Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and cover well. Place in the freezer to harden for 4 hours. Homemade ice cream is softer then mass produced ice cream. The store bought stuff has more air incorporated to it, making it less dense.
Remove from freezer, 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!