As promised last month, here is something gluten free for a jaw-dropping summer dessert with lots of delicious variations that can also be prepared year-round. Semi freddo is an Italian dessert and literally translates as “half frozen”. The beauty of this tantalising creation is that it works so well with many flavours to pair with almost innumerable garnishes and accents. It is light and delicate, yet rich and luxurious all at the same time. Its preparation does take some care and finesse but overall, it is relatively simple to accomplish. The texture should be silky, smooth and soft, almost like whipped cream, but at the same time dense and succulent. A nice semi freddo will melt almost instantly on the tongue when eaten and should not be too hard. The right temperature at the time of service will determine the mouth feel, so be sure to let it ‘warm up’ or temper before serving. It is important to measure the ingredients accurately so that the right balance of egg yolks and liquid creates that perfect texture. When done well, it provides a wonderful base for sweet or sour fruits, crisp cookies and crunchy pastries.
Truly great dishes provide a careful balance of colours, flavours, and textures; bright colours with whites or pastels, sweet tastes with sours, and soft ingredients contrasting crispy ones, all create impressions that can electrify the senses. In this case, fresh summer berries (or perhaps preserved fruits at other times of the year), scattered around a soft, clean white semi freddo with some crunchy candied nuts deliver a knock out finish to a great meal. Flavour the cream with your favourite boozy tipple, Irish Cream being a particularly good one. Simply substitute some of the liquid component with an equal volume of the liquor of your choosing; for this recipe, approximately 30ml / 2 tbsp. Alternatively, you can incorporate coffee, chocolate syrup, fruit syrups, or spices to customize it into your own spectacular summer dessert special!
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HONEY & VANILLA SEMI FREDO
Yield: 8 portions
250ml 1 cup Whipping cream
250ml 1 cup Half and half cream
90ml 6 tbsp Honey
1 Vanilla bean (or 5ml vanilla extract)
10 Egg yolks, beaten
1. Place honey in a heavy pot over a moderate heat for just a few seconds to warm slightly then swirl the pan gently to coat the bottom of the pot evenly with the honey and allow to cool while you split the vanilla pod.
2. Cut the vanilla pod in half with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds from the bean pod. Place the scraped pod halves into the pot with the honey and add both creams.
3. Place pot back on the stove on a medium heat, simmer over a medium for 5 minutes.
4. Remove vanilla pods from the cream and stir the vanilla seeds into the cream mixture. (Note: Rinse, pat dry, and store pods in your sugar container for vanilla-scented sugar!).
5. Add approximately half of the hot cream to the beaten egg yolks and stir in well. Then, add the egg yolk and cream mixture back into the still simmering cream. Remove from the heat after 30 seconds and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes.
6. Cool to room temperature and then pour the mixture into small dishes or a pie plate lined with plastic film; freeze until firm but not hard. If frozen solid, remove from freezer and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
7. Unmold each onto a serving plate and garnish with fresh summer berries or sliced fruit.