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Friday, June 18, 2010

Lemon-Honey Semifreddo

It's that time of the year for nice cool desserts and the cooler the better! My nephew and niece in North Carolina even inform me that their temperatures are hovering around 100° already! Here in the desert we've been up there for several weeks now.

As I was flipping through my latest copy of Food & Wine magazine, I came across an Italian dessert that was right up my alley. Semifreddo means "half cold" and often combines gelato (which I love) with whipped cream into delightful little treats.

This one uses a custard type base along with meringue and whipped cream as the base. This is combined tiramisu style with soft lady finger sandwiches filled with lemon curd or orange marmalade.

The result was fantastic. I love the wonderful light lemony taste of the base with the quick burst of lemon tartness from the lemon curd in the center. The texture is wonderfully light and smooth, similar to a very cold and airy mousse.

If you're looking for a fabulous chilled dessert for Summer, this one should definitely be on your menu!

1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 tbl. water
3 large egg whites
1 cup chilled heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup honey
3 tbl. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. fresh grated lemon zest
12 soft ladyfingers sandwiched with orange marmalade or lemon curd

Line a 9x4.5x3-inch loaf pan with parchment paper allowing at least 3 inches of overhang on the long sides.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand.

In a medium bowl beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. In another bowl, beat the cream until firmly whipped and refrigerate.

In a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water, beat the egg yolks with the honey at medium speed until thickened and the mixture registers 160° on an instant read thermometer (about 6 minutes). Remove bowl from the pot of water and and beat in gelatin, lemon juice and lemon zest. Continue beating about 5 minutes until slightly cooled.

Using a rubber spatula fold in beaten egg whites and whipped cream into lemon mixture until no streaks remain.

Pour half of the mixture into the loaf pan. Arrange the lady fingers in long rows and top with remaining mixture. Cover loosely with parchment paper ends and freeze until firm (at least 4 hours or overnight).

Unmold the semifreddo onto a serving platter and peel off the paper. Slice and serve.

Note: If you have trouble getting the semifreddo from the pan, wrap the pan with a warm towel for a couple minutes and the semifreddo should slide right out.

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