Explainers

How to make semifreddo

The lesser known sibling of gelato makes for a cool and colourful Christmas centrepeice. Plus, it's easy to prepare ahead.

Photo: Brett Stevens

Brett Stevens

Semifreddo is little more than three core ingredients: whipped sweetened egg whites, cream for richness and chocolate for flavour. Our preferred method, and the one used here, starts with whole eggs, whipped to a rich aerated zabaglione. The need for an ice-cream machine is replaced by whipping ingredients to envelop air, which along with sugar prevents ice crystals forming, creating a pleasant semi-frozen mouthfeel for which the dessert gets its name. Our flavourings, while decidedly non-traditional are delicious and perfectly in tune with Australian summer entertaining.

Step 1

Place 300gm finely chopped white couverture chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Using a 600ml carton of thickened cream, bring 125ml (½ cup) cream and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste to the boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest and ¼ tsp ground cloves. Beat remaining cream and 200ml crème fraîche with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; refrigerate until required.

Step 2

Place 4 eggs, 110gm (½ cup) caster sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using hand-held beaters, whisk continuously until mixture is thick and pale and has tripled in volume (8 minutes). To test that mixture is sufficiently beaten, drop a little in a figure of eight, it should hold its shape for a few seconds.

Step 2

Step 3

Grease a 2.75-litre bundt tin or other mould. Using a large metal spoon, fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture, followed by whipped cream.

Step 4

Using a 250gm jar wild hibiscus flowers in syrup, remove 6 flowers and slice thinly. Take 300gm raspberries and 100gm pistachios and divide into three. Spoon one-third of semifreddo mixture into prepared mould and layer with sliced hibiscus, raspberries and pistachios. Repeat twice more with remaining semifreddo, raspberries and pistachios. Cover and freeze overnight.

Step 4

Step 5

Meanwhile for base, finely chop 100gm Scotch Finger biscuits. Process 125gm pistachios until finely chopped. Combine nuts, biscuits and 100gm browned melted butter in a bowl. Press firmly over top of semifreddo. Return to the freezer until set (2-3 hours).

Step 5

Step 6

To make sauce, process 200gm raspberries with drained hibiscus syrup (reserved from candied flowers, about 80-100ml) until smooth, strain through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add 150ml water and 150gm sugar over high heat, bring to the boil and simmer rapidly until syrupy (8-10 minutes).

Step 7

To serve, dip the base of the mould into warm water briefly then invert onto a chilled serving plate. Top with sauce, if using, remaining hibiscus flowers, and extra raspberries.

For more Christmas recipes like this, see our December issue on sale now!

Ingredients

Base
Syrup

Method

1.Place white couverture chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste to the boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate; stir until smooth. Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and ground cloves. Beat remaining cream and crème fraîche with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; refrigerate until required.
2.Place eggs and caster sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using hand-held beaters, whisk continuously until mixture is thick and pale and has tripled in volume (8 minutes). To test that mixture is sufficiently beaten, drop a little in a figure of eight, it should hold its shape for a few seconds.
3.Grease a 2.75-litre bundt tin or other mould. Using a large metal spoon, fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture, followed by whipped cream.
4.Using a jar wild hibiscus flowers in syrup, remove 6 flowers and slice thinly. Take raspberries and pistachios and divide into three groups. Spoon one-third of semifreddo mixture into prepared mould and layer with sliced hibiscus, raspberries and pistachios. Repeat twice more with remaining semifreddo, raspberries and pistachios. Cover and freeze overnight.
5.Meanwhile for base, finely chop Scotch Finger biscuits. Process pistachios until finely chopped. Combine nuts, biscuits and browned melted butter in a bowl. Press firmly over top of semifreddo. Return to the freezer until set (2-3 hours).
6.To make sauce, process raspberries with drained hibiscus syrup (reserved from candied flowers, about 80-100ml) until smooth, strain through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add water and sugar over high heat, bring to the boil and simmer rapidly until syrupy (8-10 minutes).
7.To serve, dip the base of the mould into warm water briefly then invert onto a chilled serving plate. Top with sauce, if using, remaining hibiscus flowers, and extra raspberries.

Wild hibiscus flowers in syrup are available at select delicatessens and liquor stores. Alternatively, top the semifreddo with amarena cherries in syrup.

Notes

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