Crema reggina – Calabrian rum ice cream

This Calabrian ice cream recipe hails from Reggio Calabria, the biggest city in the region. Invented by accident in the 1950s, it's become a popular treat in the hot summer months. Flavoured with rum, studded with chocolate and fruit and coloured bright pink, it's one of many Calabrian ice cream dishes.

First published in 2019

An ice cream flavour typical of the city of Reggio Calabria, in the southern part of the region, crema reggina is a pink-hued, rum-scented frozen custard studded with chocolate (originally carob seeds) and candied fruits. Devised by local pastry chef and gelatiere Pepé Caridi, this ice cream came to be by sheer mistake, yet the outcome was so pleasing that Mr Caridi decided to replicate it, naming it after his native city.

The pink colour of the cream can be achieved through food colouring or by using Alchermes (a herbal Italian liqueur). Personally, I opted for a natural food dye so as to not interfere with the flavour of the rum, which, especially when very aromatic – think Rhum agricole – shouldn’t have much else to go against it. The traditional recipe also calls for carob seeds. Modern versions of this ice cream, however, have swapped them for chocolate chips, yet I’d argue that even better than chips are chocolate chunks – so this is what I went for in the recipe (but feel free to substitute chocolate chips if you prefer). As for candied fruits, a combination of citron and orange peel as well as chopped candied cherries is ideal, but even just mixed candied citrus would be fine.




Crema reggina

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour, sifted
  • 4 tbsp of rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g of double cream
  • 250g of whole milk
  • 1 tsp red food colouring, or as needed (use a natural food colouring)
  • 60g of mixed candied fruit
  • 100g of dark chocolate, roughly chopped


  • Ice cream maker


In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Add the cornflour, rum and vanilla and stir to combine
Combine the cream, milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan. Place over a gentle heat and bring to a simmer. At this point, stir in the egg mixture. Cook for a couple of minutes over a gentle heat, stirring continuously until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the a teaspoon of the natural food dye, or just enough to make the mixture pink. Allow the mix to cool down to room temperature, then refrigerate for about 1 hour
Once the ice cream base has cooled down, pour it in a pre-chilled ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the ice cream is thick but not completely frozen, add the chocolate and candied fruit. Churn it for a couple more minutes, until just combined
Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze it for about 1 hour, or until solidified yet still creamy

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