We know about ice cream, gelato and sorbet. We’re familiar with frozen yogurt, frozen custard and sherbet. But we are not so acquainted with semifreddo.
An Italian frozen treat, semifreddo is similar to ice cream while showcasing more of a velvety, frozen mousse texture. You don’t need an ice cream maker, just a bit of patience and several bowls.
“You'll dirty every bowl you own,” authors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough write in “A La Mode: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings.”
Despite its literal translation of “half cold,” semifreddo goes through a frozen preparation. It’s built from three essential components: a thickened egg-yolk sauce, a cooked egg white and sugar mix, and whipped cream, which are all folded together.
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Although it can be wonderful just plain, semifreddo is often flavored with chocolate or various liquors, swirled with jam, studded with fresh fruits or speckled with nuts.
Typically frozen into a loaf pan, it is easy to slice once it’s unmolded. Semifreddo maintains a smooth and soft texture even when it’s freshly out of the freezer.
Chocolate semifreddo is rich yet airy, luscious and chocolatey, which makes the steps it requires well worth it. When served with extra shaved chocolate, it shows off its understated elegance.
Adapted from “A la Mode: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, (St. Martin’s Griffin; June 2016).
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 / 4 cup whole milk
6 ounces dark chocolate, between 70 percent and 80 percent, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 / 4 teaspoon salt
Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap.
Use an electric mixer at high speed to beat heavy cream in a large bowl until soft mounds are created. Refrigerate.
Clean and dry the beaters. In a saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer over low heat.
Add egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and milk to a bowl. Set it over the saucepan with water and beat with an electric mixer or immersion blender at medium speed, scraping and stirring almost constantly, until thickened and pale, about 6 minutes.
Remove bowl from the saucepan with water (keep the water simmering). Add chocolate and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.
Clean and dry beaters. Set another bowl over the simmering water. Add egg whites, salt and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed, stirring and scrapping constantly, until fluffy and marshmallowy, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue beating to room temperature until shiny, about 5 minutes.
Fold egg yolk mixture into egg white mixture, with even strokes, just until uniform. Fold in whipped cream, taking care not to deflate its air but getting it well combined throughout.
Pour and scrape this mixture into prepared loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 12 hours. Store covered in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.