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Semifreddo


David Ross
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I consider myself a fairly accomplished ice cream maker, but I had never attempted making Semifreddo. While both Ice Cream and Semifreddo are frozen desserts, I quickly found the differences ended there, (at least that’s what my short course of Semifreddo experimentation taught me).

I started with a recipe out of the July 2010 issue of Food and Wine magazine. It calls for spreading a thin layer of orange marmalade between soft ladyfingers and then suspending the ladyfingers in the middle of a lemon-honey custard.

I didn’t read the recipe properly and used hard ladyfinger cookies instead of soft and, (no surprise), the “hard” ladyfingers became even harder during freezing. When I unmolded the first version of the Semifreddo and cut a slice, I just couldn’t understand why it was so hard to cut through the ladyfingers. (Note to self, read recipes).

On with version number two a week later and I decided to put the ladyfingers on the bottom of the pan. (Same problem, didn’t read the recipe. Still used “hard” ladyfingers). Trying to stuff hard ladyfingers into a too small loaf pan isn’t pretty but it worked, sort of. The finished Semifreddo portion of the dessert tasted delicious, but I still had a problem with the texture and presentation of the ladyfingers. (Note to self again, read recipes). I did, and it wasn't until that moment that I realized I was supposed to be using “soft” ladyfingers.

For attempt number three, (three weeks later), I decided to chuck the idea of ladyfingers and went with a base of lemon pound cake. My Semifreddo would start with a custard made with flavored with fresh lemon juice and orange blossom honey on top of a base of lemon pound cake then served with some wild strawberries out of my garden and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Here are a few photos of my novice attempt at Semifreddo:

The loaf pan lined with plastic wrap:

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The lemon pound cake, cut in half, with a layer of raspberry preserves:

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The loaf pan filled with the custard base:

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And with the pound cake turned in:

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And the finished Lemon-Honey Semifreddo, garnished with Strawberries and Chocolate Sauce-Semifreddo 011.JPG

So for the Semifreddo cooks out there, what advice do you have? What flavors do you add to Semifreddo? Do you add a cake base? Do you add nuts or fruits to your Semifreddo? Let's see some photos of your Semifreddo.

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I like something to add texture. I've made a pistachio semifreddo with pistachio cake, as well as lemon with the same cake. And I've done a chocolate one with cocao nibs. It was done in a pyramid mold with a thin layer of chocolate cake on the bottom. Unfortunately, no pictures. It's been a while since I've made it.

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Funny I should see this topic.

A few weeks ago, I spied a recipe for "no ice cream machine ice cream" in an issue of "Cooks Country" magazine. Essentially, this is chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and some instant espresso that gets nuked to melt the chocolate. It cools a bit, then has whipped cream folded in. Then, it gets poured into a containter and frozen. That's it. The recipe author likened it to a semi-freddo.

As my creation was freezing, I sat down to watch an episode of "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" What was Ann making that day? Lemon semi-freddo. To me, it looked like she made a lemon curd, whipped it up, then folded in some whipped cream. She poured it into a load pan line with plastic, just like you did. But instead of pound cake or lady fingers, the bottom of the pan had toasted slivered almonds in it. Stick it in the freezer until well forzen. Unmold, slice, and serve.

After watching that, it made me want to make it. Now after seeing this topic and your pictures, I really want to make it.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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The recipe I started with from Food and Wine begins with a base that is cooked with egg yolks and honey. You add gelatin and lemon juice and zest to the cooked custard. I added some extra strong lemon extract that I add to dessert dishes for extra flavor. The recipe called for "honey," but I saw some orange blossom honey in the market that I thought would add a nice floral bouqet to the Semifreddo.

Once the cooked base cools for about 10 minutes, you fold in whipped cream and beaten egg whites to the mix. After my first few attempts at ladyfingers, I modified the recipe to use pound cake. I cut about a 3/4" slice of pound cake and spread a layer of raspberry preserves over one side. I was thinking today that some chopped Italian Amaretto cookies would be a very good addition to this Semifreddo recipe.

What I think I liked, (and the photo doesn't show), is the texture of the finished Semifreddo--creamy, smooth and soft--not at all heavy like the French style custard ice creams I make. Don't get me wrong, I love my ice creams, but now I love my Semifreddo.

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What I think I liked, (and the photo doesn't show), is the texture of the finished Semifreddo--creamy, smooth and soft--not at all heavy like the French style custard ice creams I make. Don't get me wrong, I love my ice creams, but now I love my Semifreddo.

Interesting thread. I really have no concept of a 'Semi-freddo' at this point but make a frozen dessert that might qualify. Research is called for.

As for the 'heavy' French style custard ice creams...why make them in this style only? Try making the Philadelphia style ice cream or even ice cream with a corn starch base and no heavy cream even. Much lighter...but still acceptable to me. Fewer calories, less expensive, less 'heavy' eggy taste, more showcasing of the flavor, etc. What more could you ask for? :wub:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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There's a cookbook sitting on my shelf, La Dolce Vita, by Michele Scicolone, a book of Italian sweets that I bought because of its chapter on semifreddi (plural). I haven't actually made one yet, but that's another matter.

Although the author notes that, for Italians, a semifreddo can refer to all sorts of cold desserts, she says that:

"the best ones are mousselike mixtures that are mixed or layered with fruit, chocolate, crumbled cookies or nuts and are frozen...The airy mousse and the chopped bits never really freeze hard and the result is creamy, yet chunky for an interesting texture."

The mousse comparison is useful. She notes that "...to maintain the volume of air...the ingredients should be folded in carefully and quickly and the utensils kept cold."

The book has a dozen recipes for semifreddi that all sound delicious. I WILL make one, eventually. Other recipes I've made from the book have been excellent.


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  • 4 months later...

So, I'm planning on making a rhubarb semifreddo to take to the outlaws' place for our Christmas get-together.

I've looked through a few recipes, and think that I will use an italian meringue as a base, like in this recipe, but with a sweetened rhubarb puree folded through. However, I've seen other recipes that seem to be based on a saboyan.

Does anyone have any experience with these? Is one type more stable than another? I'm guessing the italian meringue is the most stable, but I'm tossing up whether to further enrich it by making a saboyan of the yolks to add in, which shouldn't really decrease the lift from the whipped cream and meringue.

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  • 10 years later...

Today I was searching for an old semifreddo recipe that I did and knew we had a discussion topic on it.  After 11 years I'm going to update my semifreddo a little.  Summer seems like the perfect time to make semifreddo.  Do you have a favorite and any photos of a semifreddo that you've made?

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It was actually a semifreddo which started my love affair with cooking after decades of loathing to have to do it.  A Chocolate-covered Banana Mousse Freeze.  A recipe out of the local newspaper which called for a chocolate ganache.  What's a ganache asked I? Never heard that word before. 

 

And so it began.  My newly found love affair with dark chocolate.  And also my endless changing of recipes by adding in this case raspberries and Chambord.  

 

And soon after I found and joined eGullet.  I might just have to make one soon. 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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