Serves: 8 to 10
Active time: 4 hours Total time: 24 hours
Semifreddo is Italian for “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Ice Cream,” or in technical speak, it simply means “Half Frozen.” The result is a cool, creamy and delicious treat that can be made without an ice cream maker. Notice how the ingredients are eerily similar to Ice Cream, just a different technique. While commercial batch freezers aerate the custard as it churns, this recipe uses the glorious properties of whipped heavy cream to do the trick.
Before We Start:
A love letter to whipped cream: It is so simple, yet so easy to screw up. As the liquid whips, the fat globules entrap the air to create micro air pockets, thus increasing volume. But be warned: there is a literal breaking point where the fat becomes too agitated and starts to clump together, leaving chunks of fat and liquid. We call this “butter.”.
So, somewhere between cream and butter is the perfect whipped cream for a mousse: soft, supple and at the peak of aeration. The cream should not get to the point of stiff peaks, instead, it should have some fluidity falling off the whisk, yet be able to hold a trail when streamed over the surface of the bowl. (picture)
Frozen Smores Semifreddo, yes I intentionally say frozen twice, is part ice cream sandwich, part baked Alaska, and super impressive to serve at a dinner party. I’d even come to the dinner party if you were serving it. Well, I might come to the dinner party. It really depends what I have going on that night. I love that the graham cracker angel food cake mimics the texture of a marshmallow. The best part is, you don’t need an ice cream machine or a campfire to make it!
For the Graham Cracker Angel Food Cake:
12 (340g) large egg whites ( handwritten note: clean, no yolks!)
1 1/3 (264g) cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
¾ cup (90g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (74g) graham cracker crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with nonstick spray and line it with parchment.
- Place the CLEAN egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed until the whites are foamy and start to form soft peaks, about one minute. Gradually, sprinkle in the sugar and whisk until glossy and stiff, about 2 minutes.
- Using a large rubber spatula, fold the flour, graham cracker crumbs and salt in two installments.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan making an even layer but being careful not to overwork it as you will knock the air out of the batter.
Bake for about 17 to 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cake springs back when the center is gently touched. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.
For the semifreddo:
1 1/2 cups (297g) heavy cream
6 ounces (170g) best quality dark chocolate (such as Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
1 cup (198g) granulated sugar
- Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with parchment paper, cutting the parchment to fit the bottom of the pan and go up and over the long sides, this will help unmold the final product.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks and place in a bowl in the fridge until ready to use.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe dish and set aside.
- In a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks and salt on medium-high speed, while you bring the sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Heat the sugar and water to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. With the mixer running, stream the hot sugar syrup into the yolks and beat until room temperature. Fold in the slightly cooled melted chocolate, then the whipped cream.
- Using sharp scissors, cut the graham cracker sponge into a 9 x 5 inch strip, remove the parchment and place the cake in the bottom of the prepared pan.
- Pour the semifreddo on top of the cake.
- Cut another strip of the graham cracker sponge cake to fit the top of the loaf pan. You will have extra cake, so feel free to snack.
- Place the cake on top of the semifreddo with the parchment side up – it is easier to remove the parchment once the whole thing is frozen. Freeze overnight.
- Unmold the semifreddo onto the desired serving plate – wood cutting boards work nicely.
- Remove the top piece of parchment and place mini marshmallows on top.
- Gently torch the marshmallow with a kitchen torch.
- Artfully arrange the shards of graham crackers sticking out of the semifreddo and dot with brandied cherries.
- Serve whole with a jar of the salted caramel and a sharp knife so guests may serve themselves.