Saturday, January 7, 2012

Raspberry Semifreddo

The weather is not quite so friendly lately here in Jakarta. It would be blazing hot during midday and pouring cats and dogs in the afternoon till very late at night. Sometimes it is vice versa. When it is real hot, all I crave is just something that can shake off the heat and instantly makes me feel good. The thing about craving is that when the feeling comes and tickles your taste buds, it is able to mess around with your head in a strange pre-historic way and lets you think that you ought to get that certain food despite the time and place, now. Or you’ll be unleashing the dragon.

Okay, that dragon thing is out of context. Blame it on The Game of Thrones. I simply am addicted to the books and the tv series and my hubby seems to be on the same wavelength. We just found something that we both could enjoy together without him or me criticizing each other’s choice of books and movies. Back to the topic of craving, the hot midday and afternoon are quite suffocating for me. Trying to stay indoor doesn’t always help when what I want is to get my hands on cold desserts. The main problem is that I cannot find my ice cream maker anywhere. I know it must be somewhere inside those boxes that I haven’t unpacked, got me there, and I’m talking about huge boxes that my hubby put really high on the top of shelves.

So I gave up on ice cream.


Now, that would be a perfect idea if I do have the patience to mash the granita in the container with a fork for every two hours for at least four times. So what can I have to satisfy my cold desserts craving?

I did not know.

One night I was reading a Giada de Laurentiis cookbook before sleeping and found a luscious coffee semifreddo recipe. Why didn’t it occur to me? Yeah, easy to make and requires very little ingredients and utensils. As you know that I like to tweak a recipe here and there and make it my version, I decided to make a raspberry semifreddo, also for the lovely mere fact that I got loads of fresh organic raspberries in my refrigerator. Those are my daughter’s but I did not tell her that I used them to make this. The confession of crime could wait.

Semifreddo itself means half frozen but that does not mean it is rather liquidy like melted or unset ice cream. I remember when I was a little girl my mom and dad used to take me to this lovely gelatteria. The store itself was small, with only several white painted wrought iron sets of chairs and tables, there were grape vines dangling on the wooden beams which supported the not so high ceilings, synthetic of course but nevertheless very high in quality -the fake vines and the grapes looked marvelously real- or my dad would’ve given his endless comments about it, and it did add a classic Italian touch. Moreover, the gelatteria was really private and humble; it did not put such a big sign that advertise, "Oh, look! Here’s a place where you can buy ice cream." Gelato is not ice cream. I guess that was why I loved it so much, more for the humility and the privacy of the place, and the colorful layers of the cassatta. Not only gelato and cassatta, they also sold semifreddo and this spectacular Bomba Siciliana. It is not hard to make them as long as you have the patience and the passion. For now I’ll just share my semifreddo recipe.

For the Semifreddo
-250 gr Raspberries
-1 cup heavy cream
-2-3 tbs confectioner sugar
-100 gr vanilla meringue, coarsely crushed
-3-4 tbs kirsch
For the coulis
-250 gr Raspberries
-2-3 tbs confectioner sugar
-1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice

-Oil a loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and set side.
-Puree the raspberries in a blender
- Whip the cream and the confectioner sugar until soft peak forms. Taste the sweetness; if you like it you can add more sugar.
-Fold in the raspberries, crushed meringues, and kirsch. (psst.. I added slightly more kirsch)
-Transfer into the pan, smooth the surface, cover with clingfilm and freeze at least 6 hours.
-Meanwhile, make the coulis. Puree the raspberries and press them on a fine sieve to get a lovely smooth texture. Stir in the confectioner sugar, taste the sweetness; if you like it you can add more sugar. Flavor the coulis with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.
-Serve the semifreddo with the coulis. Voila!

You can substitute raspberries with any berries you like. Be creative, this is a foolproof dessert so there is no way you can go wrong. If you want to make a vegan version, simply substitute the heavy cream with non-dairy whip cream and skip the liquor if you want to make it non-alcoholic version. As for me, kirsch augments the flavor of almost every spring and summer fruits. I happen to have some meringue in my air tight jar that I made about a week ago. You can cheat and use store bought meringue but be forewarned, store bought meringue is often times too sweet. So, check the sweetness, if it is quite sweet then completely reduce the amount of the confectioner sugar in the semifreddo mixture or don’t use any sugar at all.

There you go, my take on semifreddo.

I sincerely hope you would try to make this recipe at home. The reason is very simple. If you have kids, you might want to watch their ice-cream intake. I mean, children and ice cream are inseparable, so the challenge is how to make it healthier so they can still eat it a lot and us parents don't have to worry about a thing. Lots of famous premium ice creams sold out there are heavenly, utterly delicious but they contain too much egg yolks. If they don’t use yolks, like other generic brands of ice creams, the amount of sugar is despicably insane, so insane you’ll get a cough after a scoop or two. I’ll be posting my easy ice cream recipes and frozen yogurts, yolk-less, soon and till then, have fun with your semifreddo.


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