Belgian Cuberdon ice cream
Candy lovers! You may have your favourites, and the Belgians sure have theirs: the gooey Cuberdons! Now, let’s turn them into delicious ice cream!
Cuberdons – the origins
Many parts of the world have signature candy, and Belgium is no exception. The cuberdons, cone-shaped and traditionally filled with a gooey raspberry syrup, have been around since the later part of the 19th century. In its region of origin, they’re sometimes also referred to as “little noses”.
Much like a lot of ice cream lore, the exact origins remain murky but there are still good stories. According to one popular account, the “noses” (“neuzekes”) were created by a clergyman (hence other nicknames such as “nun’s belly-button” or “cleric’s hat”). A competing story instead gives the honour to a pharmacist by the name of De Vynck, who purportedly got inspired when he noted that a batch of discarded and forgotten medicinal syrup had turned hard on the outside but remained liquid on the inside. As the (unverifiable) story goes, he opened a candy shop soon after, and the rest is history. The traditional flavour is raspberry, but modern cuberdons can actually be had in a vast number of different flavours (apparently, there is even a cola-flavoured one destined for the US market).
A cuberdon consists of a relatively thick crust held together mainly by gum arabica, its interior traditionally filled with rich, gooey raspberry-flavoured syrup.
The syrup is very sweet and the flavouring – while “natural” – feels far from natural raspberries, yet strangely addictive;-) . The optimal shelf-life is only about 8 weeks: after that, the sugar in the syrup inside the cone begins to crystalise and you end up with something that no longer really qualifies as a good cuberdon. This probably also explains why the cuberdon to this day largely remains a Belgian candy: short shelf-life seldom goes hand in hand with great international export success.
Cuberdon ice cream – the considerations
Broadly speaking, candy ice cream can be done in rather easy ways: take an ice cream base you like, add the candy (either by melting it or by chopping it up to be used as add-in or add-on). While this is a route open also to cuberdons, I decided to go with a “dedicated” recipe here however: the cuberdons are so very sweet (66 % sugar and glucose syrup), and contain quite some stabilisation (gum arabica and pectin) that I wanted to cut back on some of the overall sugar to avoid a too sickeningly sweet end result. I also used less fat than I’d normally go with in a base without eggs – not least in order to avoid risking that the fat would unduly “dull” the candy flavour. Optionally, but I used it, you may still add some Tara gum to the mix to ensure the overall consistency: if you go without, I think the result still should be good.
As for the how-to, this recipe is very simple:
Mix the cream and the milk in a saucepan.
Add the cuberdons, keep whisking and bring the mix up to about 80° C / 176° F (this will help melting the cuberdons and – if used – also ensure the full activation of the tara gum). Add the sugar (if using, mix in the Tara gum before) to the dairy. Whisk for a couple of more minutes until all has dissolved.
Take off from the heat and let the base cool down and then chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours or over night.
Churn in your ice cream machine, or still-freeze in your household freezer.
A delicious candy-flavoured ice cream
The cuberdons turned out to be a perfect fit for use in ice cream. The ice cream really delivers, with the cuberdon coming through very clearly and in a pleasantly balanced way: a lot of candy flavour, yet still not overly sweet. The overall consistency turned out to be very good too: great mouthfeel and the ice cream remained nice and scopable, even after several hours in the freezer: no surprise perhaps, given the total amount of glucose syrup and sugar in this creation 😉 .
Cuberdons may not be so easy to track down outside of Belgium but if you ever get the chance: grab a box and try them out!
In any case, I hope the post may serve as inspiration for turning your own favourite candy into delectable ice cream!
- 200 ml (about ⅘ cup) cream
- 550 ml (about 2⅓ cup) whole milk
- 50 ml (about ⅕ cup) sugar
- 250 gr cuberdon candy
- (optional) about 9 gram (approx. 1½ teaspoon) tara gum
- (very optional: crimson food colouring, should you wish to re-create the candy's colour too)
- In a saucepan, mix the cream and the milk.
- Put on the heat and bring the mix up to about 80° C / 176° F.
- Add the cuberdons andt the sugar ((if using Tara gum, pre-mix it in with the sugar to be added here) Whisk until the cuberdons have melted and the sugar has dissolved.
- Take off from the heat and let cool down, the chill the base in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.
- Churn in your ice cream machine (or still freeze using your household freezer).