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Nesselroad Ice Cream

If you’re already suffering from pie fatigue and it's not even December yet, homemade ice cream is a great alternative. Unlike your typical ice cream flavors who are wingmen to cake or pie, Nesselrode is complex enough to proudly stand on its own at the holiday table. Amongst guests over 60, it’s apt to incite nostalgia for the days of yore, whereas younger family members will have the privilege of discovering a vintage treasure.

About Nesselrode

Nesselrode is an old-fashioned Christmas ice cream, all but forgotten amid the typical repertoire of holiday desserts. So named after a Russian statesman with exceptional taste (if you ask us), this ice cream was quite popular around the turn of the century, again in the early 30’s, back in vogue in the late 50’s to early 60’s, and made occasional appearances in the early to mid-80’s. We’re thirty years later once again and hoping to spur another comeback.

What makes Nesselrode Nesselrode?

Count Karl Robert Nesselrode’s signature combination of chestnut, rum, and glacéed fruits, utilized in a variety of desserts including ice cream, pies, puddings, and custards. With its pinkish hue and studded with gem-like cubes of candied fruit, it produces an elegant—even exquisite—ice cream with unique flavor.

Our version

The recipe we offer is adapted to appeal to the contemporary palate. The purity of the chestnut flavor really comes across in this recipe and it is appropriately rather than overly sweet. Because we prefer the flavor, we use French chestnut purée in a jar rather than chestnuts in syrup.

Try to find the highest quality and greatest diversity of glacéed fruits, such as morello cherries, amarena cherries, melon, citron, angelica, orange and lemon rind, pineapple, apricots, and maraschinos.

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Also spring for high quality organic milk and cream, such as Strauss Family Creamery.

The addition of crumbled biscotti or Amaretti cookies is an extra touch, but not vital, so we list it as optional. If you do not care for rum, you can substitute it with Cognac or kirsch, or leave out the alcohol altogether if you’re opposed to serving it to any potential child guest.

Yields 3 pints of ice cream


2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

⅛ teaspoon salt

1½ cups whole milk, heated

1 cup half-and-half, chilled

¾ cup heavy cream, chilled

½ cup jarred chestnut purée

1 cup mixed glacéed fruits

6 stemmed maraschino cherries

2 tablespoons dark rum

½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup crumbled biscotti or Amaretti cookies (optional)


Custard base

Whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt in a bowl until the mixture is pale yellow.

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Transfer mixure to a medium saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the hot milk a little at a time off heat. Once the milk has been added, over low to medium heat, continue to stir until the mixture forms a custard thick enough to coat a spoon (about 10 minutes). Do not bring to a simmer or the eggs will curdle.

Remove from heat and whisk in the chestnut purée. Next, stir the half-and-half and heavy cream into the custard base until well combined. Transfer the custard base to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or until very well chilled.

Glacéed Fruits

Halve the cherries and dice the other candied fruits and place in a bowl. If you like your ice cream on the sweet side, include any thick syrup that may have accumulated in the bottom of the fruit containers. Add the rum and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until well chilled.

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Biscotti or Amaretti cookies

Chop or break the cookies into small pieces and put aside in a sealed bag.

Ice cream

Turn the custard base into an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is set but not firm (generally about 10 minutes), add the candied fruit and crumbled cookies. Continue to follow manufacturer’s instructions to achieve the consistency of soft-serve, then transfer into sealed containers and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.



Glacéed fruits and chestnut purée can be mail ordered from the California-based Market Hall Foods.


It’s convenient and attractive to pack homemade ice cream into ice cream pint containers. It also minimizes the ice cream’s exposure to air. Ice cream pint containers can be ordered on Amazon, or picked up at a local ice cream parlor.

For more ideas on Nesselrode desserts, read this fun New York Times Magazine article from 1983, written by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey.

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