Semifreddo means semi-frozen. In a good way — cream-and-custard-packed-in-a-pan-and-stashed-in-the-freezer way. It doesn’t freeze hard, like ice. It freezes soft, like ice cream.
This raises questions.
For instance: If semifreddo is frozen cream and custard, and ice cream is frozen cream and custard, what separates the two pleasures?
Churn, apparently. Authorities contend that the constant stirring imposed on ice cream during its initial freeze breaks down ice crystals, yielding a smooth, creamy scoop.
But one bite of luscious semifreddo throws this distinction into dispute. Semifreddo serves up a smooth, creamy slab.
Which poses further concerns.
For instance: Is churn necessary? What makes semifreddo so delicious? And, after considerable research, why is it all gone?
Note: Adapted from Epicurious.com.
• 1/2 c. sliced almonds
• 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
• 3 large lemons
• 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
• 7 egg yolks
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 18 oz. fresh blueberries
• 1/3 c. sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. water
• 6 oz. fresh blackberries
Prep: Toast almonds in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned; cool. Line a 5- by 9- by 3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving some overhang. Spread cooled almonds across the bottom; set aside. Whip cream to sturdy peaks. Chill.
Whisk: Finely zest and juice the lemons. Measure 5 teaspoons zest and 1/2 cup juice into the bowl of an electric mixer. (Save remaining zest and juice for the berries.) Stir in 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, yolks and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk until 165 degrees, about 8 minutes. Pull pan off heat.
Fold: Using an electric mixer, beat yolk mixture until pale, thick and cool, about 6 minutes. Fold in whipped cream. Scrape into prepared loaf pan. Smooth top. Cover with plastic wrap, fold up overhang and freeze overnight.
Mash: For berries, place blueberries into a large saucepan. Stir in 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon reserved lemon juice, 1 teaspoon reserved lemon zest and pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat, mashing many of the berries with the back of a slotted spoon, until saucy, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in cornstarch slurry; let thicken, 1 minute. Pull pan off heat; stir in blackberries.
Serve: Peel plastic from top of semifreddo; invert onto a serving platter and remove all of plastic wrap. Using a heavy knife dipped in hot water and wiped dry, slice semifreddo into 8 (1-inch-thick slabs). Ladle about 1/3 cup warm berry sauce onto dessert plates. Lay 1 slab semifreddo on top of each and serve.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories 400 Fat 21 g Sodium 120 mg
Carbohydrates 52 g Saturated fat 10 g Total sugars 46 g
Protein 5 g Cholesterol 210 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
Exchanges per serving: 3 ½ carb, 1 medium-fat protein, 3 fat.