Friday, July 31, 2009
If you ever find yourself wishing for a creamy cool dessert but don’t want to haul out the ice cream maker or fuss with making a crème anglaise, this semifreddo is your dream dessert. It’s like a very light cold mousse and comes together so quickly you almost wonder how it could taste so incredibly good.
Semifreddo is the Italian term for "half cold" and is often used as the description for many kinds of partially frozen desserts. Some versions require an Italian meringue made with hot syrup and/or an egg yolk-sugar base, but this Pistachio Semifreddo just consists of pistachios, meringue and whipped cream folded together with a splash of almond extract to add just the right level of robust nutty flavor. It's impossibly simple and supremely delicious. Although certainly worthy of a special occasion, don’t bother to wait too long to enjoy this wondrous dessert.
- This is a half recipe. You can double and pour into a 2 quart bowl and use a scoop to serve.
- The recipe calls for salted pistachios. If you can’t find them, be sure to add a tiny pinch of salt to the recipe.
- When lining the loaf pan, place a strip of parchment on top of the plastic to create a smooth surface. If you don’t have parchment, once you've unmolded it, you can use a warm knife or metal spatula to smooth the creases.
- I’ve chosen to serve it with some cherry compote and figs but it would be equally delicious with an element of bittersweet chocolate, whether it be a simple chocolate wafer, a light drizzle of chocolate sauce or a thin layer of cookie crumbs or cake on the bottom or top of the mold.
- Whip the cream just until soft peaks form. This means the cream should have a soft lilt that is very droopy and does not hold its shape. If you go too far, the mixture will be grainy. The meringue should be beaten to a stiff peak, which means it should stand up when peaked without falling over.
- As always, exercise caution when serving raw egg whites.
adapted from Gourmet magazine
makes about 4 - 6 servings
3/4 C shelled salted pistachios (about 3 1/4 oz) + extra if you want to garnish
1/2 C sugar, divided
3 large egg whites @ room temperature
1 C heavy cream, chilled
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Line an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang on each side. You can also place a strip of parchment paper on top of the plastic to help form smoother sides.
Grind 1/2 cup pistachios with 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Pour into a bowl. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup pistachios and combine with the finely ground mix.
Beat egg whites until they are opaque and hold soft peaks. Add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar just a little bit at a time, increasing speed to high. Beat until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks.
Whip chilled cream with almond extract until it just holds soft peaks.
Gently fold meringue into whipped cream. Fold in nut mixture. Using a rubber spatula, pour into an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan. Smooth the top until it’s level. Place in your freezer until firm, about 8 hours.
Run a thin knife or small metal spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert. Carefully pull off the plastic wrap and parchment if you used it. Garnish with chopped pistachio.
Slice with a sharp knife and serve immediately.