We start celebrations on Christmas eve. My three girls put a carrot out for the reindeer and a beer for Santa. Then on Christmas Day we drive to my parents-in-law's on the northern beaches where we open presents, have breakfast and swim.
I don't do any cooking on Christmas Day. There's always plenty of ham and turkey but everything is cold.
My wife's aunty first made this Christmas tree ice-cream cake for us about 10 years ago. Not only are the kids always queuing up for it but the adults are, too. It's a fun thing you can make the night before and all the kids love to make it and eat it.
You can use a good quality bought vanilla ice-cream if you prefer not to make your own.
Christmas tree ice-cream
750ml pouring cream
6 vanilla beans
16 egg yolks
3 Mars bars, roughly chopped
3 Toblerone bars, roughly chopped
1 Christmas tree mould
Berries to serve
Bring the milk and cream to the boil. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthways and remove seeds, then add to milk and cream.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined then gradually add a third of the hot liquid, slowly combine. Put egg and sugar mixture back into the pan with the remaining liquid then stir over medium heat until the custard reaches 80C-85C (or until thick and it coats the back of a spoon). Strain and remove beans then chill, preferably overnight.
Churn in an ice-cream machine, following manufacturers' instructions. Once the ice-cream has been made, mix in Mars bar and Toblerone pieces.
Pour mixture into the mould and place in the freezer to set for 24 hours or overnight.
To serve, remove from mould. Decorate with strawberries and blueberries.
This story and recipe first appeared in The Sydney Morning Hareald in December 2010.