My love of all things Italian continues with this Semifreddo recipe, combining the best qualities of ice-cream and gelato.
Though Semifreddo can be made in a number of ways, I prefer the traditional method of cooking a sabayon (a cooked custard using egg yolks), to which you add flavourings and whipped cream. It’s a little more technical, but I think the result is far superior. I adapted the semifreddo part of the recipe from a similar one on Fifteen Spatulas.com.
I can’t say I made things easy for myself, though, with the peanut butter version! Once you add it to the sabayon, it thickens it considerably once it cools, and it becomes quite a feat to then fold cream into it! Now I understand why other cooks tend to use half a cup of peanut butter! Of course, I doubled that amount, didn’t I! However, never one to back down from a challenge, I simply strained the mixture and kept going and I ended up with a lovely silky ice cream full of flavour. So, in the interest, of making things easy for you, I’ve kept the recipe to ½-2/3 cup of peanut butter. If you want to be a rebel like me, go ahead and put in a cup, but you’ll probably need to strain it.
The chocolate fudge sauce was also an interesting experience – once in the fridge, it morphed into mousse! However, a mere 15 seconds in the microwave brought it back to a beautiful pourable consistency. It’s very dark and rich, and almost bitter, which counteracts the sweetness of the ice cream beautifully. If you’d prefer a lighter sauce, I’d reduce the amount of chocolate used.
The salty peanut praline was a last minute idea; I thought it might make the ice cream a bit more interesting, both in terms of texture and taste.
At the end of the day, do what works for you – if you like your own brand of chocolate sauce, use it. If you don’t want the hassle of making peanut praline, don’t bother. The ice cream is what we’re all here for, after all!
PEANUT BUTTER SEMIFREDDO WITH CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE
Makes 1 1/2 – 2 litres
- 7 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ – 2/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½-2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (room temperature)
- Peanut praline (recipe below)
- Chocolate sauce to serve (recipe below)
For Peanut Praline:
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup chopped salted peanuts
- 2 Tbsp water
For Chocolate Fudge Sauce (makes about 2 cups):
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 120g (4 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- For Chocolate Fudge Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine cream and sugar. Bring to scalding point (just prior to a boil) over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Turn down to low and allow to simmer gently for four minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, chocolate, butter and salt and stir until the chocolate melts. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. If you don’t want to use the sauce immediately, cover the cooled sauce tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- For Peanut Praline: Spread the peanuts on parchment paper on an oven tray. In a saucepan, cook the sugar and water without introducing a spoon, until the caramel is golden brown. Swirl the saucepan, if necessary. Immediately spread a thin layer of the caramel over the nuts. Let cool completely. Break it up and put it in your food processor and pulse it just until the pieces are like coarse, gritty sand.
- For Semifreddo: Line a 2 litre-capacity metal or Pyrex loaf tin with plastic wrap, leaving enough length to wrap over top of the dessert.
- Place the egg yolks, vanilla, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl. Place over a saucepan of just simmering water (a double boiler) and, using a hand-held electric mixer, whisk or beat for 8-10 minutes or until thick and pale (you want to read 160⁰F or 71⁰C to kill any bacteria in the eggs). Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Add the peanut butter into the custard mixture and combine – using a fork is easiest. Let it cool completely.
- Whisk the cream to just stiff peaks, but don’t overmix.
- The custard/peanut butter mixture will have thickened, so you’ll need to lighten it up with a bit before adding all the cream. Fold about a third of the cream through – if it’s just too thick and difficult to combine, strain the mixture through a sieve (I did this and it worked a treat). Fold in the remainder of the cream until just combined.
- Sprinkle some of the praline into the loaf tin to start (this will sit on top of the ice cream when it’s inverted). Then pour half the custard mixture into the loaf tin. Sprinkle over some more of the peanut praline, then pour over the remainder of the custard mixture. Alternatively, and especially if you are going to serve the ice cream in balls rather than slices, you could simply stir in some, or all, of the peanut praline into the main custard mixture before pouring.
- Lightly cover the surface with the plastic wrap and then overwrap in foil. Freeze the dessert for 6 hours or overnight. Note: You can freeze the dessert for up to six weeks.
- To serve, take it out of the freezer and transfer to the fridge about 15-20 minutes before serving so that it softens slightly and is easier to slice. Strip off the foil and plastic wrap, turn onto a platter, cut into slices and transfer to individual flat plates. Pour over the chocolate fudge sauce or, if you’d like it warm, heat it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, before pouring. If the sauce needs thinning, add a little more cream. Scatter a little of the extra praline over top of each slice for extra crunch. Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop and serve it in balls in a bowl or glass and drizzle chocolate and a scattering of praline over top.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting