Another favorite from the archives - today's post focuses on a peppermint semifreddo recipe that I like to serve in tiny shot glasses. Unlike many of the sweets I write up on this site that are rustic, served in the pan, and not very fussy - semifreddo is a bit more fancy-pants, but worth the effort. These little showstoppers are the perfect bookend to a holiday meal - or pass them around your New Year's party if you aren't completely sick of peppermint by then.
Semifreddo is a study in whisk technique (and wrist endurance), particularly if you are doing things by hand. It is a workout for your stand mixer if you opt for the flip-the-switch, modern-mixer route. To make semifreddo (which means 'sort-of-frozen' in Italian), you are going to whisk, and whisk, and then whisk some more. And then you are going to fold, and whisk, and fold - and then freeze. All in the quest to create a fluffy, dreamy, cloud-like, winter wonderland dessert. You can flavor semifreddo with just about anything, but it's Santa season, so we are going for the peppermint.
Before I sign-off, I want to say THANK YOU to everyone who played a role in 101 Cookbooks being awarded the Food Blog of the Year award. I can't think of a better way to end 2007! Congratulations to all the other category winners. For any of my readers who might not be familiar with some of these other sites, I encourage you to poke around!
Food Blog of the Year - 101 Cookbooks
Best Food Blog (Chef) - Michael Ruhlman
Best Blog Covering Drinks - Married with Dinner
Best Food Blog (City) - Becks ‘n Posh
Best Food Blog (Family/Kids) - Lunch In a Box
Best Food Blog (Group) - Serious Eats
Best Food Blog (Humor) - French Laundry at Home
Best Food Blog (Industry) - Michael Ruhlman
Best Food Blog (New) - French Laundry at Home
Best Food Blog (Photography) - La Tartine Gourmande
Best Food Blog (Post) - Gluten-Free Girl
Best Food Blog (Rural) - Farmgirl Fare
Best Food Blog (Theme) - Fat-Free Vegan
Best Food Blog (Writing) - Bittersweet Blog
And to wrap things up - just a quick note that we're going to switch from sweet to savory for the next recipe - I've think I've got a great one up my sleeve for later this week, so check back in.
For those of you without an ice-cream maker, this recipe is a way for you to make a sophisticated frozen-dairy dessert without having to make the appliance purchase.
1/2 cup peppermint candies (divided), I like the vintage looking ones, and buy the ones made with natural dyes when I can find them.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 large organic eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1/3 cup peppermint liquor
Start by putting the peppermint candies in a paper or plastic baggy - crush them into little chunks (not dust) with a rolling pin.
Now you are going to whip the cream. Pour all of the cream into a medium-sized bowl and whisk until soft, floppy peaks form - they should be lazy peaks, if they look pert and perky, you've gone too far. Place the whipped cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.
Prepare an ice bath by filling an extra-large bowl with water and ice cubes. I don't like to sacrifice all those perfectly good ice cubes so I usually throw a couple bags of frozen corn (still in the bag) into the water instead. Set the ice bath aside.
Set a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. You need to move quickly here, so have everything right on hand. Add the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar, and quickly start whisking - whisk until the mixture starts to pale, 30 seconds or so. Add the peppermint liquor and whisk like you've never whisked before until the mixture starts to thicken (somewhere between 30 seconds and 2 minutes depending on the heat). Quickly move the bowl from the stove and set it in the ice bath. Whisk the mixture until it is cool to the touch. Keep the pot of water simmering.
Take another heatproof bowl (you can use the one from your electric mixer if you've got one) and set it over the simmering water, whisk the egg whites and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Start whisking, you want the sugar to dissolve and the egg whites to warm up a touch - the heat makes it easier to whip them. After a minute or so remove them from the heat and whisk the whites until they have glossy peaks - four or five minutes.. They should be structured and stiff.
Time to put it all together: Gently fold the egg-whites into the egg yolk mixture. Pull the whipped cream from the refrigerator and for that in as well. Add half the crushed peppermint candies, and fold in with as few strokes as possible. One of the reasons I add the peppermint candies in the end is because I don't want them to stain everything pink. If you stir them too much you are going to get pink.
Spoon the mixture into serving glasses.
This dessert is rich in heavy cream, so I like to do tiny portions of it served in little vintage shot-shaped glasses. Just the right amount of sweet to end a meal w/o putting you over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining peppermint candies and place in the freezer until it firms up, an hour or so.
This recipe will make a dozen or so desserts, depending on the size of your glasses.