Monday, May 2, 2011

meyer lemon semifreddo

I've written before about my love of the semifreddo. It's basically just a fancy take on ice cream, but in my book, it is the perfect dinner party dessert: there is no baking required, the whole thing can be assembled in advance, and you can create an endless variety of flavors.

Another thing about this dessert is that plates come back clean. Like, noisily-scrape-up-every-last-bit-of-melted-ice cream clean. I may or may not have licked my own plate in the kitchen when no one was looking. Okay, I did.

The recipe is easy. You don't even need an ice cream maker. (I don't have enough counter space or willpower to own one myself.) All you have to do is beat egg yolks with sugar and your choice of flavorings in a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water. In this case, I used Meyer lemon juice and zest. (Meyer lemons taste like a cross between a lemon and an orange.) In another bowl, you beat a good amount of whipped cream, fold in the lemon mixture, then pour it all into a plastic wrap-lined loaf pan and freeze the semifreddo overnight.

Oh, you can also add something crunchy to the bottom of the loaf pan for a little textural contrast. I used thinly sliced, toasted almonds, but you can skip this step or substitute another type of chopped nut, or maybe chocolate chips or toasted coconut. A thick layer of finely ground cookie crumbs would be great as well. Actually, that would be very great.

To serve, you slice the brick of ice cream into thick wedges and dig in, or you can dress the individual slices up with some sort of sauce. I love the combination of lemon and blackberries, and the deep purple sauce is so pretty against the pale yellow ice cream. Let me know if I am delving into Nigella territor here. Ahem.

When I served this, one person said this dessert was the best one I've ever made, tied with the mini frozen Key lime pies. That person got offered seconds, of course. The Key lime pies get points for cuteness, but the semifreddo is a more elegant way to go. I'd say it's a draw.

Meyer lemon semifreddo with blackberry sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit. If you can't find Meyer lemons, regular lemons will do just fine.
(Serves 8 to 10 people)

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 3/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
7 large egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
1 Tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons finely grated Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
1/4 tsp. salt

For the sauce:
2 cups blackberries (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. fruity liquor (Chambord, blackberry schnapps, Cointreau, whatever you have on hand)

Line a 9 by 5 by 3-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang. Sprinkle the almonds evenly over the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Whisk 1 1/4 cups sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice and peel, and salt in a large metal bowl until combined. Set the bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the yolk mixture is thick and fluffy and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the mixture registers 170 degrees, about 4 minutes. 

Remove the bowl from over the simmering water. Using the electric mixer, beat the mixture until cool, thick, and doubled in volume, about 6 minutes. Fold in the chilled whipped cream. Carefully pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan (over the almonds) and smooth the top with a butter knife. Tap the loaf pan lightly on work surface to remove any air pockets. Fold the plastic wrap overhang over the top to cover. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small pot and stir until combined. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to break down and form a sauce. When the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and let it cook for about five more minutes. Store in the refrigerator (it will thicken up a little more as it cools) until ready to serve.

When the semifreddo is ready to serve, unfold the plastic wrap from the top of the loaf pan and use the edges to carefully lift the ice cream out of the pan. Place the semifreddo onto a platter and peel off the plastic wrap. Dip a heavy large knife into hot water and cut it crosswise into 1- or 2-inch-thick slices. Transfer to plates and top with the sauce.

1 comment:

Lbenz said...

A semi freddo is more like frozen mousse than it is an ice cream....just saying


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