Lemon Semifreddo with a Citrus Salad
I know it seems kind of crazy to be making a lemon frozen dessert in the middle of winter, but I just couldn’t resist last weekend with an Italian theme for dinner club. I knew my host loved limoncello, so I wanted to make a dessert that would complement the post-dinner digestive; not to mention I’d recently come into the possession of 5 lemons through my CSA box, so this Lemon Semifreddo was a perfect fit.
Despite the fact that this is a frozen dessert, it isn’t too cold or icy. In fact, the name semi-freddo means partially frozen, so it’s solid, but not traditionally frozen hard. As soon as you take it out of the freezer it starts to melt slightly, taking on a softer creamier texture. The original recipe had this served with summer berries, but seeing as that it is not berry season, I made a citrus salad to go with it. Because the semifreddo itself is a little one note in the texture, it is nice to have the mix of textures and complementary flavors from the fresh fruit. I put in just a touch of almond and vanilla extract in with the fruit juice to match back to the real almonds that are on the bottom of the semifreddo.
All put together it was so delightful it made me wish that summer was just around the corner. It’s got just the right amount of sweetness and the lemon isn’t overpowering, but the texture is really the most special part. It’s frozen without any ice crystals and it’s still light and airy. You really must try this one. And a little secret: I tried the lemon mixture before it went in the freezer and THAT would be a really amazing dessert parfait, NOT frozen and layered with fresh fruit.
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 3/4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 7 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest or regular lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Line 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving generous overhang. Sprinkle almonds evenly over bottom of pan.
Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream in large bowl until soft peaks form. Refrigerate whipped cream while making custard.
Whisk 1 1/4 cups sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over large saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until yolk mixture is thick and fluffy and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 170°F, about 4 minutes. Remove bowl from over simmering water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until cool, thick, and doubled in volume, about 6 minutes. Fold in chilled whipped cream. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan and smooth top. Tap loaf pan lightly on work surface to remove air pockets. Fold plastic wrap overhang over top to cover. Freeze semifreddo until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight. DO AHEAD: Semifreddo can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen. Gently mix all berries and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Unfold plastic wrap from top of semifreddo and invert dessert onto platter; remove plastic wrap. Dip heavy large knife into hot water; cut semifreddo crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Transfer to plates; spoon berries alongside and serve.
*Recipe is from Bon Appetit, available here
- 1 grapefruit
- 2 oranges
- 2 Meyer lemons
- 1 tbsp sugar (more or less depending on how sweet your fruits are)
- 1 tsp honey (more or less depending on how sweet your fruits are)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
Peel and section the fruit over a colander over a saucepan to reserve the juices, squeeze all excess juice from fruit after sections have been separated. Set aside fruit sections in separate bowl. Bring juice to a boil. As it heats, add sugar and honey to taste. Add the extracts and let it reduce at a boil for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. When it’s warm to the touch, pour juice over fruit sections. Serve immediately or let it marinate for a little bit – either way, it’ll be fantastic!