Ice-cream for the gadgetless

Honey and pinenut semifreddo

For those of you who read other food blogs, you’re probably well aware of the sudden increase in the number of ice cream and sorbet recipes appearing all over the place as our Northern neighbours hit the peak of their summer season with all the sweltering heat and humidity that it brings.

However, for me this poses two problems. Firstly, the fact that it’s currently cold enough to freeze the t*ts off a cow (say MOO!), and secondly, the utter frustration I feel when reading those posts because I know that since I am without an ice cream maker (and will continue to be without till I can afford one, probably next year), these tantilizing frozen desserts will continue to remain outside my grasp.

GRR!

Surely, I cannot be the only one whose kitchen does not contain this gadget! I can’t be the only one left, standing in the rain, under a balcony, yelling a heartbreaking “STELLA! STELLA!”

Woah, segue. Ahem – serves me right for dreaming about Marlon Brando as a fit, young man. Excuse me!

However, I think Marlon would forgive me for stealing his thunder, if I were to present him with a slice of my ice-cream stand-in…

Honey and pinenut semifreddo

Though the ice-cream frustration has been around for awhile, it was really last week and an unrelated panic that drove me into my freezer’s loving arms and cold, cold embrace. You see, I’d picked up a tub of mascarpone cheese with the full intention of trying out a tiramisu recipe that I’ve had my hands on for awhile but once my mother tasted the cheese and declared its flavour rather foul on her tongue ((#^#$T*#%)#*!!!!!), I knew that there had to be a change of plans. After all, as I don’t actually drink coffee, there wouldn’t be much point in making an espresso-laden tiramisu that nobody in the family would eat!

So, what to do, what to do?

As I sat at the kitchen bench, eyeing the tub, my mind wandered and I suddenly remembered seeing frozen mascarpone parfaits by Helen over at Tartelette, but my heart sank when I viewed the recipe – to make it, I needed bananas, and there was no way on God’s green earth that I was venturing out in the gale-force winds and rain in order to buy me a few ‘nanas for this treat (1 1/2 months till I can drive…woohoo!). Well, that plan was scrapped so I wondered what else I could make. A quick browse of my cookbooks reminded me that a semifreddo was another frozen dish I could try, but since none of them mentioned mascarpone as an ingredient, I turned to the ever-trusty internet to find what my heart desired.

Gotta love food blogs ;)

I found a semifreddo recipe that called for goat’s cheese, but the mascarpone was an easy substitution, so I combined that with another recipe of my dear Nigella Lawson’s, and made this melt-in-your-mouth honey and pinenut semifreddo that made my eyes roll back and my mouth sing with the very first bite. It *is* a bit rich for everyday consumption, but if you’re looking for a delicious dessert that will look and taste sensational for a special occasion, this fits the bill to a tee!

Honey and pinenut semifreddo

Honey & Pinenut Semifreddo
(adapted from here and Nigella Lawson)

Ingredients
3 large fresh eggs, separated, and at room temperature
250g mascarpone cheese
¾ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup water
¼ tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
1 cup fresh heavy cream, well chilled
150g pine nuts
100g honey

1. Oil a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, and line it completely with plastic wrap, ensuring enough extra plastic wrap overhangs the edges so the pan can be covered after filling. Toast the pinenuts till they’re lightly golden, then sprinkle them into the base of your loaf pan and set it aside.

2. Beat the egg yolks with the 2 tbsp sugar until they become light yellow and creamy. Mix the mascarpone and honey into the mixture, and beat until well combined and fluffy, scraping down the sides as necessary. Reserve.

3. In a small heavy saucepan, heat the ¾ cup sugar with the 1/3 cup water, until the sugar melts (occasionally give it a swirl and brush down the sides with a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals). Continue to cook until the syrup reaches 120 degrees C.

4. While the syrup is cooking, with cleaned beaters, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form, then make an Italian meringue by carefully drizzle the syrup slowly into the egg whites while beating and turning the bowl. Continue to beat the egg whites after all the syrup is added until the egg whites are completely cooled, and the meringue is shiny and holds firm peaks.

5. With cleaned beaters, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form.

6. Fold ¼ of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture. Carefully fold the egg yolk mixture and the whipped cream into the meringue. Gently scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, smooth off the top, fold over the extra plastic to cover, and place in freezer for at least 2 hours.

Now, this is a bit sweet and rich so if you wanted to jazz it up, I’d suggest something like a raspberry coulis as the tartness of the berries will help offset the richness of the semifreddo :)

[tags]ice cream, semifreddo, desserts, sweets, mascarpone, recipes[/tags]

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