Nesselrode Pudding

James Beard

Author and Educator

There is no ingredient called a “nesselrode.” This frozen confection is named after Count Nesselrode, a 19th century Russian diplomat whose cook is credited with its creation. During the century, frozen iced cream desserts were wildly popular, both in Europe and America. The basic custard mixture, traditionally containing chestnuts in some form, was frozen in fancifully shaped metal molds. These wonderful molds can occasionally be found in antique shops, but are regarded as collectibles and command high prices.


  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Cognac
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • One 15 oz. can unsweetened chestnut purée (sold in most specialty markets) or 1 cup candied chestnuts, broken into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla


Soak currants and raisins in Cognac barely to cover for 1/2 hour. Drain, reserving the Cognac. Beat egg yolks either in a mixer or with a whisk for about a minute, then add 3/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the mixture is very thick, a light lemon color, and forms a ribbon. Set aside.

Heat 2 cups of the cream in a saucepan just to the boiling point, when small bubbles appear around the sides. Don’t let it come to a full boil. Beat the cream into the egg yolk mixture and return it to the pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until it coats a spoon thickly. Don’t let this mixture boil or you’ll have sweet scrambled eggs. Remove from heat.

Stir in either the can of chestnut purée or the candied chestnuts. Add the reserved Cognac, currants, raisins, and vanilla.

Whip the remaining cup of heavy cream until it begins to thicken, then add 3 tablespoons sugar, and continue beating until it is quite firm. Fold this into the chestnut mixture, making sure they are well combined and thoroughly blended.

Lightly oil a 1 1/2–quart melon or charlotte mold and fill with the mixture. Cover securely. Melon molds have a tight-fitting cover with a handle, and so do some charlotte molds. If yours does not, seal the mold with foil and Scotch tape. Leave the mold in the freezer for about 5 to 6 hours, or until frozen solid. About 15 minutes before serving, transfer to the refrigerator. To serve, unmold it onto a chilled serving dish—you may have to run a towel, wrung out in very hot water, over the mold to loosen the pudding or dip the bottom of the mold in hot water for just a second, not long enough to melt it.

Garnish the frozen pudding with whipped cream piped through a pastry tube or with candied fruits.


8 to 10 servings