Chocolate Panettone Bombe
Dome-shaped golden panettone is that traditional spongey, fruit-studded, sweet Christmas bread that is to an Italian Christmas what fruitcake is to other parts of the world. It may be even more welcome than its much maligned counterpart and in my experience more welcome when gifted. Lavish with golden raisins, citrus peel, eggs and butter, panettone epitomizes the richness and generosity of the season. Panettone originated in Milan, in the north of Italy, but has spread all over the country and around the world. I grew up with fruitcake, and in the old British tradition fruitcake even presented itself at my wedding, but, living in the melting pot of cultures we call Canada I eagerly adopt other traditions. During the holidays, you can't come or go from an Italian home without receiving or giving a panettone.
Whether you make your own or have store-bought you may inevitably end up with leftovers. If you are like me you may even buy extra just so that you will always have leftovers and hope that every Italian friend will gift you with a panettone. Over the holidays I like to make panettone bread pudding or perhaps French toast, but several years ago I watched Jamie Oliver create a stunning dessert from leftover panettone and fruit that has cemented itself in my holiday traditions. Just add some vin santo and you will have a dessert that wows your guests with so little effort you won't feel you deserve all the compliments...but accept them anyway!
Vin santo ('Holy Wine') is the name given to the amber-hued dessert wine traditionally from central Italy. There are similar wines made in other Italian wine regions, and the vinsanto I have had on Santorini in Greece is almost identical in both name and style, but the Tuscan hills retain a long-standing connection with these golden, intensely flavoured wines. These "straw wines" are so named because they are traditionally made from grapes left to dry out on straw mats after harvest. The mats are placed in the warmest, driest part of the home (or winery) so the grapes gradually desiccate over the winter. Each drop of wine would be precious!
A typical vin santo offers aromas of apricots and orange blossom, followed by a caramel, nut and raisin-rich palate with a hint of honey and cream on the finish. What could be more perfect for this decadent dessert bombe. Of course if it is not available you could use a late harvest or even an ice wine available here in Canada.
Whatever you do make this dessert part of your tradition! Bring a piece of Italy home, but twist it into something that your guests will talk about for years to come.
**Chocolate Panettone Bombe**
by Jamie Oliver
2 x 500ml tubs of good-quality vanilla ice cream or gelato
1 x 1kg panettone
125ml Vin Santo
3 heaping tablespoons of jam
25g shelled pistachios, crushed
75g of dried sour cherries, roughly chopped (or canned or fresh cherries)
40g glacé clementines (or other glacé fruit), thinly sliced
200g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
1 clementine orange, zested
Whipping cream, to serve
Equipment: 2 litre pudding bowl, some plastic wrap , a saucepan and a plate to sit on top of the saucepan. Take the ice-cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready. Line the pudding bowl with 3 layers of plastic wrap. Using a serrated knife, slice four 2cm-thick slices from the panettone, and then cut these slices in half. Line the pudding bowl with 6 of the slices of panettone in a single layer around the bowl, pushing them down so they don’t overlap. As the slices meet in the centre don't be afraid to remove some of thickness of the panettone by pinching it out. Drizzle a little of the Vin Santo over the bread. Place three tablespoons of your chosen jam in a cup with a drop of hot water, and brush the jam over the panettone inside the bowl. Add 1 tub of ice-cream to the bowl, spreading it around to form a thick layer in the bottom of the pudding bowl. Sprinkle in the pistachios, cherries, and fruit. Add the other tub of ice-cream to the pudding bowl to form a last layer. You may need to work quickly so the ice-cream doesn’t melt. Take the remaining slices of panettone and place them on top of the ice-cream to form a lid. Drizzle more Vin Santo over the top, and then cover the bowl tightly with cling film. Press a plate down on top of the panettone and then place the bowl in the freezer – it’s best if you can leave it overnight. When you’re ready to serve, put the broken chocolate pieces in a bowl and set it on top of a saucepan of simmering water, on a really low heat. Just make sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Leave the chocolate to melt while you unwrap the panettone bombe and carefully turn it out onto a serving dish. When the chocolate has melted, stir the zest of the clementine in and spoon the sauce over the top of the up-turned panettone bombe. Slice into generous wedges, and add some whipped cream to each portion to serve.
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