Vanilla Chocolate Cherry Semifreddo

If you are looking to make your own ice cream, but don’t have an ice cream maker, never fear because semifreddo is here. Instead of the ice cream maker whipping the air into the custard, you whip heavy cream and fold it into an egg sugar mixture.

Semifreddo is Italian for “half cold” and for some, is considered a more elegant ice cream. Truth be told, I don’t care what you call it or how you serve it, I am an absolute ice cream junky.

To create a symphony of textures and tastes, this silky smooth vanilla mousse is layered with crunchy flakes of bittersweet chocolate. To elevate this dessert to the next level, each slice is blanketed with a cherry sauce made with fresh dark sweet cherries.

This recipe will serve 8 people.

VANILLA CHOCOLATE SEMIFREDDO:

1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate, melted

6 egg yolks, keep the egg whites for breakfast or  marshmallow frosting

1 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of water

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste*

*Vanilla bean paste can usually be found at higher end grocery stores such as Whole Foods or The Fresh Market.

Line a 9 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Place a large metal bowl and the beaters of a hand mixer in the refrigerator or freezer. This is for whipping the heavy cream. Heavy cream likes a very cold environment for making whipped cream. So go on, set the mood or you will be left disappointed!

Using a double boiler or a metal bowl over simmering water, melt the bittersweet chocolate until smooth and set aside. The bowl should not touch the simmering water!

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks for 3-4 minutes. The yolks will become a pale yellow.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to cook the sugar to 238 degrees on a candy thermometer. Do not stir the sugar mixture.

When the syrup has come to temperature, remove from the heat.

With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle the bubbly syrup down the side of the bowl. Do not pour the syrup directly into the eggs, this could scramble them or whip hot sugar all over the place.

Continue to whip the mixture for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and the side of the mixing bowl is cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, pull out the metal bowl and beaters from the fridge. Pour in the heavy cream, vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste.

PREPARATION TIP: Using vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste is the easiest way to achieve vanilla flavor. Another option, two nights before you want to eat this ice cream, scald the cream and a whole vanilla bean over medium-high heat. Do not let the cream boil. You want to look for tiny bubbles that form around the edge of the cream. Let the cream cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. Before whipping, pull out the vanilla bean, split the vanilla bean length wise and scrape out the vanilla bean seeds. Add the seeds to the cream. Toss the empty pod. Continue with the recipe.

Whip the cream until you have stiff peaks.

Once the egg mixture has cooled to the touch, fold in a 1/4 of the whipped cream.

This will lighten up the egg mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until completely combined.

See the little black specks? Those are from the vanilla bean paste.

Bring over the plastic wrap lined loaf pan and pour in 1/4 of the semifreddo mixture. Remember the chocolate you melted and set aside? Drizzle a thin layer over the top.

Add some more semifreddo and more chocolate drizzle until you have loaded up the loaf pan.

Cover with plastic wrap and set in the freezer overnight. The semifreddo will be good for up to a week.

CHERRY GOODNESS:

3 cups of pitted cherries, I chose the dark sweet cherries

1/3 cup of granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/2 of a lemon, juiced

2 teaspoons of cornstarch

In a medium sauce pan over medium heat,  toss in all the ingredients except the cornstarch. Give the cherries a chance to release some juices.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and a touch of cold water. Add the mixture to the cherries. Continue to cook until the cherry juice starts to thicken, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. The cherry topping will be good for up to 3 days.

To serve the Vanilla Chocolate Cherry Semifreddo:

On a platter, turn the loaf pan upside down and rub around the pan to loosen the semifreddo. It should pop right out. Remove the plastic wrap and slice the semifreddo. Top each slice with a spoon full of the cherry goodness and dig in!