Equally refreshing as icecream, 100 times softer and creamier. I vote for semifreddo!
ingredients for a rectangular cake tin of 28X7X6 cm cost about 12 € with organic products)
for the semifreddo
- 450 g liquid cream (32-35% fat), well chilled
- 105 g egg whites (3), at room temperature
- 135 g sugar
- 90 g flower honey
- 70 ml water
For the cherries in syrup and the roasted hazelnuts
- 200 g cherries, pitted
- 80 g sugar
- 40 g water
- a few drops of lemon juice
- a handful of verbena leaves
- 100 g hazelnuts, roasted and coarsely chopped
We have already spoken about the Italian meringue in our post “Citrus mousse with chocolate biscuit”.
Another category of desserts where this type of meringue is commonly used is semifreddo.
In its basic version, semifreddo consists only of Italian meringue combined with whipped cream. The result is a something between a mousse and an ice-cream.
The amazing thing about semifreddo is that, even though it is stored and served at the same freezer temperature as the ice cream (-10 to -18oC), it does not harden and does not form crystals. On the contrary, it remains soft and creamy and it feels less cold than ice cream when consumed, hence the name semifreddo, which means half- cold in Italian.
Τhis is due to a higher ratio (between 20-27%) of sugar (which is an excellent anti-freezing agent), compared to the amount used in ice cream, as well as the use of more fat and less liquids. These qualities, along with the fact that it does not require an ice cream machine to be prepared, make semifreddo, in my opinion, by far superior than ice cream.
Ιn my semifreddos I like to substitute some of the sugar with honey (up to 40%), as it pairs wonderfully with the meringue (take the nougat as an example), offering a sophisticated, elegant touch to the final product and, at the same time, it prevents the crystalizing of the syrup.
Here, I am presenting my basic semifreddo formula with cherries in syrup, I prepared myself, as well. They are ridiculously easy and quick to make. I topped it with a few roasted hazelnuts to create this perfectly balanced and eye catching summer dessert.
So, to prepare the cherries in syrup, we bring water and sugar to boil, then we add the lemon drops, the verbena leaves and the cherries, already pitted and we cook them briefly, just until they start to release their juices and the syrup starts to foam (about 10 minutes will be enough). The cherries must become tender, but not to melt. We want them to keep their shape. We let them cool for a while, then we transfer them into a jar and we keep them in the fridge.
To make our semifreddo base, we begin from the meringue.
We prepare a syrup by bringing water, sugar and honey into boil. At the same time we whip the egg whites and when the syrup reaches 121o C, we start pouring it over the egg whites, without stopping to whip. We continue whipping, until the meringue cools and turns into a stiff and glossy mousse.
We, also, beat the chilled liquid cream, until we turn it to a soft whipped cream. For best results be sure that you have also chilled well the bowl and whisks of the mixer. We then fold the whipped cream into the meringue. If we like, we can also add a few tablespoons of cherry syrup to give a light cherry colour to our semifreddo,
We cover the bottom and sides of a rectangular tin with cling film and we pour inside it the semifreddo mixture.
We wrap very well with cling film and we freeze for at least four hours. We keep in the freezer, until serving time.
Finally, we roast the hazelnuts for about 15 minutes at 170 o C, then we rub them between our palms to remove their skin. We let them cool and we coarsely chop them.
We cut the semifreddo in thick slices, we place them on plates, we drizzle generously with cherries and syrup, we sprinkle on top the chopped hazelnuts and we serve.