Christmas Menu #1 – Raspberry and Pistachio SemiFreddo

There are two ways to make a semifreddo. One, whisk a large number of egg yolks and sugar together over a low heat, make a custard, then fold it into whisked cream, flavour it and freeze it, or, Two: Cheat.

Semifreddo is a soft, almost mousse-like frozen dessert and you can achieve great results by using a store-bought vanilla ice cream and mixing in the flavours you want. When you do it this way, you really do need to buy the best quality ice-cream you can afford, but from there, it’s easy to add whatever you want.

In past years I have added Christmas pudding – a fantastic way to use up leftovers on Boxing Day – plus a slurp of brandy and some glacé mixed peel to create a fantastic iced dessert that reminds one enough of the festive season but is cold enough to eat a bowlful in front of the cricket and not feel out of place.

You can also use chocolate pieces, pieces of turkish delight and pistachio nuts, some rum-soaked raisins and a tablespoon of espresso coffee, or pieces of almond nougat with dried apricots or slow-roasted peaches and some butterscotch schnapps.

This being me, I’ve given you the recipe for the egg-based custard (which really is very easy), and from there you simply add whichever flavour combination you want. Raspberries and pistachios, in this case.

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

2 eggs; 4 egg yolks; 80g (1/3 cup) caster sugar; 600ml thickened cream; a few drops vanilla extract OR 2 tsp rosewater; 300g fresh or frozen raspberries; 80g (½ cup) roasted unsalted pistachios; 100g turkish delight – not the choc-coated version, but the traditional locum (optional)

METHOD

Line a 19cm x 9cm deep loaf tin with either clingwrap or baking paper. Personally, I find the clingwrap infernally difficult to smooth around the sides without crinkling and often give up in annoyance, but if possible use this method. Allow enough clingwrap to fold down the outside of the loaf tin. If using baking paper, cut a piece to fit so that the paper overhangs the long sides by 6cm or more. It will not overlap the small ends, but instead lay quite smooth against the sides of the tin, creating a smooth surface that the ice-cream will rest against.

If you are using frozen raspberries, place them in a sieve over a jug and allow them to thaw – and drain of excess water – to room temperature.

Place eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the sides of the bowl, or you’ll get scrambled eggs.

Whisk the egg yolks for about 10 minutes until the custard has doubled in volume and is pale. The eggs should be so thick that you can lift the whisk out of the mixture and with the resulting trail ‘write’ your name across the top of the mixture, where it will hold it’s shape. This is called ‘ribbon’ stage and you must keep whisking until you reach it. Remove from the heat and whisk for a further 5 minutes until the custard has cooled.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream with the vanilla extract or rosewater until soft peaks form, then very gently fold the cream through the custard. Roughly chop the pistachios and turkish delight pieces if you are using them and fold them in.

Gently fold in the raspberries. Some people prefer to mash a few of the raspberries and then swirl it through the custard and this option is entirely up to you, but don’t overdo it. You want swirls, not a garish pink mass.

Pour the custard into the prepared tin and use a spatula to make sure it goes right into the corners and edges of the tin. smooth the top, then fold the clingwrap back over the surface. Freeze the semifreddo for at least 24 hours.  You can easily keep it frozen as is for at least a week before using.

To serve, unwrap the clingwrap and place a serving plate over the loaf tin. Invert the plate and loaf tin and gently ease the tin off the ice-cream. Carefully peel away the paper or clingwrap. At this stage you may want to smooth the surface with a spatula if it’s too indented from crinkled clingwrap, but I generally leave it as is. Place the semifreddo in the fridge for 1 hour to soften.

Top with extra raspberries, mixed berries, some more finely diced turkish delight or, if you can find it, some persian fairy floss and cut into slices at the table.

COST

$11.00 for up to eight people

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