Creamy semifreddo studded with milk chocolate chunks & crumbled honeycomb
Last week, after spending time on the treadmill before work, straightening my naturally curly hair then heading into the office to sit at my desk all day fielding emails, I started thinking about technology. And its tendency to get in the way of the simpler pleasures in life.
I’m not saying technology is inherently bad – it’s an undeniable and primarily positive part of twenty first century life – but every once in a while it feels important to go for a run in the great outdoors, leave our looks as nature intended or take time to have a real conversation instead of communicating electronically.
Serve this semifreddo in scoops or freeze as a block & slice
Which brings me nicely on to the topic technology in the kitchen (surprise!). While I love my electric whisk, mini blowtorch and other assorted baking-related gadgets (including my candy apple red Kitchen Aid, which I heart), there’s no denying that they’ve changed the way I work. The number of times since Christmas I’ve kneaded dough for bread by hand rather than in the time-saving stand mixer could probably be counted on one hand, and since getting an ice cream machine for my birthday last year
, I haven’t even thought about anything other than churned frozen desserts.
Which is such a shame, because there are some seriously good ones out there. Semifreddo – ‘partly cold’ in Italian – is the perfect example: a sublimely smooth iced dessert with its own unique identity, different from ice cream but every bit as delicious. While semifreddo is served straight from the freezer at a colder temperature than ice cream, its mouthfeel is warmer, making it wonderfully luxurious, soft and silken. It can be scooped straight up or frozen in a loaf tin and served in slices, and is a brilliant dessert regardless of whether you have an ice cream machine or not.
Serve each slice crumbled with extra honeycomb
Every time I post an ice cream recipe
on this blog, I get at least one comment or email asking if it’s possible to make the recipe without an ice cream maker. The answer is yes – any ice cream can be made with a freezer, a little patience and several goes at forking the frozen custard to break down any ice crystals (although the texture will never be quite as smooth as that of an ice cream made in a machine) – but I still think it’s about time I posted a frozen dessert that anyone can make and enjoy without any fancy equipment.
A semifreddo’s smoothness comes from softly whipped cream and stiffly beaten egg white. Some recipes call for Italian meringue made with hot syrup, but in this version I’m keeping everything super simple. You whip double cream and egg whites, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale, melt some chocolate and combine it all in a sweet, light mixture stirred through with crunchy homemade honeycomb drizlled with melted milk chocolate.
Sweet & smooth with a crunch of honeycomb – the perfect after dinner treat
Honeycomb is what you find inside a Crunchie bar
(or Violet Crumble for any of my Australian readers), so you could easily substitute the shop-bought version for homemade, but making your own is much more fun. When you add bicarbonate of soda to the molten sugar syrup it fizzes and foams up in an eruption of amber bubbles before cooling to a crisp, crumbly bar. Drizzled with melted chocolate, allowed to set then smashed into sugary splinters, it’s not something your dentist will thank me for introducing you to, but it is very good.
When stirred through the ice cream, the honeycomb starts to dissolve, resulting in crispy, chewy nuggets of caramel goodness. The melted chocolate stays hard for a firmer chocolaty fix and the smooth chocolate base simply melts in your mouth. Because of the chocolate bar connotations and milk chocolate base, this would be the perfect dessert to make for kids (as long as you’re sure about your eggs as they do go in raw), but you could easily turn it into a more adult version with dark chocolate and pistachios (my current favourite combination from these blondies
), or maybe raisins and a dash of rum. White chocolate would also work well, maybe with a little coconut and served with slices of fresh mango, or you can try any combination of chocolate, praline, alcohol, fruit, nuts and pretty much anything else you’d stir through normal ice cream.
Milk chocolate makes this the perfect treat for kids (or big kids)
Simple, smooth and utterly unpretentious, this is a dessert that defies technology and takes things back to the old school. Oh, except I’d advise using an electric whisk unless you want to involve some serious bicep action whipping up all those egg whites and cream. Maybe technology isn’t such a bad thing after all . . .
Chocolate & Honeycomb Semifreddo
For the honeycomb (makes 400g) (recipe from the Channel Four Food website)
75g clear honey
140g liquid glucose
5 tbsp water
2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
100g milk chocolate
Lightly oil and line a tray with baking parchment.
Put the honey, liquid glucose, sugar and water in a large, high-sided saucepan (the honeycomb will bubble up) and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, increase the heat and continue to cook until the mixture turns a light golden colour.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the baking soda. The mixture will erupt in a foaming mass so take care not to burn yourself. Pour immediately onto the prepared baking tray and leave to set hard.
Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the set honeycomb. Allow to harden, then crumble into pieces and set aside.
For the semifreddo
125g milk chocolate, chopped
4 large free range eggs
40g golden caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50ml frangelico or liquer of your choice (optional)
500ml double cream
200g honeycomb (see above), crumbled
If you want slices of semifreddo, line a large loaf tin with cling film. Otherwise you can store your semifreddo in a normal container.
Melt the milk chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl with the caster sugar and vanilla extract until pale, thick and light. Slowly whisk in the alcohol, if using, then stir in the cooled, melted chocolate.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form, but without letting them get dry.
Carefully fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture, followed by the egg whites until combined. Fold through the honeycomb, ensuring it is distributed fairly evenly.
Pour the mixture into your chosen container. If using a loaf tin, smooth the top then cover with a piece of baking parchment and smooth flat. Freeze for at least four hours before serving. Scoop or slice and enjoy.
I’m entering this post into Kavey‘s May Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge. For more information, and to get involved, click here.