Friday, July 19, 2013

Vanilla Raspberry Semifreddo

If you love the light airiness of mousse and the creaminess of ice cream, then you’ll love the combination of the two, the Italian semifreddo.  It’s one of those desserts that doesn't require much effort to prepare and makes a nice presentation for a crowd. 

We appear to be deep into a summer heat wave across much of the nation and reaching out in search of something cold to refresh is the order of the day.  Ice cream fills the bill beautifully but if you don’t have an ice cream maker, an Italian semifreddo scented with vanilla and rippled with crushed and sugared raspberries is a great way to cool down.

The base for this semifreddo is cream cheese with whipped egg whites and whipped cream folded in for more volume.  Vanilla is the base flavor and fresh raspberries give it a bright edge of tartness and color.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I usually favor pastries and desserts that have both flavor and simplicity in equal measure.   A bit of challenge is always important but I think for the most part, people tend to like unfussy preparations and simple presentations and I usually find myself striving to find this balance.   I think this semifreddo is a perfect example.

Bench notes:
-When lining the loaf pan, place a strip of parchment on top of the plastic to create a smoother 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.
- The more you handle heavy cream after it’s been whipped, the stiffer it becomes.  So whip the cream just until soft peaks form.  This means the cream should have a soft lilt that is droopy.  If you go too far, the cream will be grainy and worsen as you fold it into the other ingredients.  
- The meringue should be beaten to a stiff peak, which means it should stand up firmly without falling over.
- The 1/4 cup sugar used with the raspberries in the semifreddo seems sweet but it helps to prevent the fruit from becoming too icy when frozen.
- Rather than layering the raspberries, swirl them in for a different effect.
- Strain out the raspberry seeds if you prefer.
- Another very easy and delicious dessert is Pistachio Semifreddo.
- As always, exercise caution when using raw egg whites.  They should not be served to small children, pregnant women or individuals who are at risk due to compromised immune systems.

Vanilla Raspberry Semifreddo
Makes 6 – 8 servings

12 oz fresh raspberries, divided                                   
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) sugar

4 oz cream cheese @ room temperature
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large egg whites (3 oz) @ room temperature
pinch salt
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) sugar

1 cup (8 oz) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 4” long overhang on each side.  You can also place a strip of parchment paper on top of the plastic to help form a smoother finish.

Place two-thirds of the raspberries (9 oz) in a bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar and mash coarsely with a fork.  Set aside. 

Beat the cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla until smooth.  Set aside.

Whip the egg whites with a small pinch of salt until they are opaque and hold soft peaks.  Slowly add 1/4 cup sugar a little bit at a time, increasing speed to high.  Beat until meringue holds stiff, glossy peaks.  Set aside.

Whip the chilled cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla just until it holds soft peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the whipped cream.  Then fold this into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.  Pour a third into the prepared loaf pan, then add a layer of half the raspberries.  Repeat the process and end with the cream mixture.  Smooth and level out the surface.  Cover the top with the parchment (if using) and overhanging plastic wrap and place in your freezer until firm, about 6 – 8 hours or overnight.

To serve, combine the remaining 3 oz raspberries with sugar, to taste.  Run a thin knife or small metal spatula around the edges of the loaf pan to loosen. Unwrap the plastic and parchment (if using) from around the top of the pan. Place a serving plate on top of the pan and invert.  Pull off the pan and carefully peel off the wrapping.  Cut into slices and serve immediately with the extra raspberries.


Anonymous said...

All of the recipes sound great and picture presentations have been fantastic for the past 4 weeks. We finally have a break from the intense heat in NYC; I think I am going to have to bake one of these desserts tonight! Love to check in and see what you have been baking. Cheers! Eileen

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much, Eileen, and cheers to you, as well! Glad to hear you're having a break in the heat. NYC is lovely but for the weather extremes!

Easy Italian Recipes said...

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