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Nesselrode Pudding

Ice puddings were rich moulded ices which contained preserved or fresh fruit. The most celebrated of them was Nesselrode Pudding.

The chestnuts are rubbed through a hair sieve

This luxurious ice pudding is based on chestnuts, which are poached in syrup and then rubbed through a hair sieve.

Although they did not have freezers, the Victorians had some remarkable (and decorative) ways of keeping ice cream cool.

19th century meringue beehive

A meringue timbale in the form of a beehive, used as a 'cosy' for keeping an ice pudding cool. The meringue acts as a very effective insulator and stops the ice underneath from melting. Move your cursor over Gouffé's print to see a re-creation of his design.

This remarkable beehive is made entirely from meringue. The bees are constructed from pistachio nuts for the bodies, currants for the heads and split almonds for the body. It sits on a base of pâte d'office garnished with green sugar. The design is from The Royal Pastry and Confectionery Book by Jules Gouffé (London:1874). Gouffé's text was translated out of French by his brother Alphonse, who was head pastry-cook to Queen Victoria.

The Queen's chef de cuisine, Charles Elme Francatelli, also designed a spectacular ice pudding with its own built in cooling system. This was his impressive Victoria Pudding named in honour of the Queen. It sat on a socle (stand) moulded out of ice in the form of two entwined dolphins. The garniture of seaweed was made from gum paste. Made in a melon mould it was flavoured with diavolini (ginger comfits) and preserved pineapple.

Victoria Pudding

Francatelli's Victoria Pudding, from the cover design of his seminal work The Royal Confectioner (London: 1864). Click to find out more about the early history of ices in England.

Click to find out more about our Dairy and Ices Course

Move your cursor over the beehive 'cosy' to see the Nesselrode pudding it is covering, also in the form of a beehive. Click to find out more about our courses on ices.


Prepare a custard cream ice with six ounces of chestnut farina added to the otheringredients composing the custard, and mix therewith stoned raisins, currants, candied peels, shred pistachios, and a wine-glassful of curacoa; mould the ice in a Charlotte mould,and when dished up pour a vanilla cream ice half frozen over it.

From Charles Elmé Francatelli, The Royal Confectioner. (London: 1891).

This ice cream cake is a variation on Nesselrode Pudding. It looks wonderful when cut into slicesm as in the photograph on the right..

Nesselrode pudding

Flavoured with chestnuts and maraschino, Nesselrode pudding was a Victorian favourite.

Nesselrode Pudding

Peel 40 fine Italian chestnuts, blanch them in boiling water to remove the second skin, and put them in a stewpan with 1 quart of syrup registering 16° and a stick of vanilla; Simmer gently until the chestnuts are done, drain, and rub them through a hair sieve; Mix in a stewpan 8 yolks of egg and a half lb. of powdered sugar, add 1 quart of boiled cream, and stir over the fire, without boiling, until the egg begins to thicken, mix in the chestnut purée and 1 gill of Maraschino, and strain the whole through a tammy-cloth into a basin; Set a freezing.pot in the ice; Wash and dry a quarter lb. of currants, and boil them up in some syrup registering 30°; Stone a quarter lb. of raisins, cut them in halves, and boil them in syrup in the same way; Pour the chestnut cream in the freezing-pot, work it with the spatula until it is partly frozen, add 3 gills of whipped double cream, continue working until the cream is frozen, and mix in the prepared fruit, previously drained; Put the ice in a dome-shaped ice-mould, and finish as directed in the preceding recipe.

When first invented, this pudding was frozen in a bladder instead of in a mould.

Sauce for Nesselrode Pudding
Put 4 yolks of egg in a stewpan with a quarter lb. of pounded sugar and 3 gills of boiled cream, stir over the fire, without boiling, until the egg begins to thicken, take the stewpan off the fire, and stir for three minutes more;
Strain the sauce through a tammy-cloth into a stewpan, add a gill of Maraschino and put the stewpan in the ice, so that the sauce may be very cold, but not frozen, and serve it in a boat with the pudding.

From Jules Gouffé The Royal Pastry and Confectionery Book (London:1874)

Chestnuts poached in syrup

The chestnuts are poached in syrup

Historical Notes

According to tradition this wonderful ice pudding is said to have been originally made by the French chef de cuisine Carême in 1814 for the diplomat Count Karl Von Nesselrode. It became the most popular ice pudding of the nineteenth century and was particularly appreciated by the English upper classes. Carême's follower Monie probably designed the version outlined here as a joke item which poked fun at the English plum pudding, a dish it closely resembles when made in a bladder instead of an ice cream mould. However, Nesselrode Pudding was usually made in a dome-shaped bombe mould to imitate a pudding boiled in a basin. The currants and raisins were poached in syrup to stop them freezing hard in the ice cream mix. The alcoholic maraschino, as well as giving a superb flavour, also helped the ice to remain soft.

Ice puddings were among the most technically challenging dishes for a Victorian cook to make. Some of the most spectacular were invented by Francatelli, who includes a good range of recipes in his two major books The Modern Cook (1846) and The Royal Confectioner (1864). In addition to ice socles in the form of dolphins, he also suggests using stands for ice puddings made of blocks of ice decorated with fresh flowers.

If you would like to find out more about these luxurious ices, Ivan has recently written a two part paper for PPC called The Natural History of the Ice Pudding.

A nesselrode pudding made in a fluted pillar mould among a group of other moulded ices

The Nesselrode pudding here is the fluted ice in the centre. It was made in a mould which once belonged to the celebrated confectioner Richard Gunter. It is flanked on the right by a Princess Melon and on the left by a Versailles Pineapple Cream, two moulded ices recreated from Agnes Marshall's Fancy Ices (London: 1890). They are surrounded by small garnishing ices and are embellished with delicate sprigs of maidenhair fern. Carême's original version of the pudding was frozen in a pewter pineapple mould.

Francatelli's imitation plum cake

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