Sugar hasn’t cornered the market on sweetness. For this recipe, we are substituting honey for most of the sugar.
Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you need less in the finished dish for a balanced amount of sweetness. Sugar loses most of its good stuff like organic acids, enzymes and minerals during the processing of raw sugar beets to white sugar; most honey, even the pasteurized kind, retains some if not all of its natural components. Sugar is more difficult for the human body to process because it is sucrose, a combination of fructose and glucose. The bees have added a special enzyme to honey that keep the fructose and glucose molecules suspended separately, making honey easier to digest.
Semifreddo is an Italian frozen dessert; the term means “half-frozen.” It is typically made by combining an aerated mousse with custard and freezing it in a mold. The dessert is then unmolded and sliced, or scooped with an ice cream scoop.
Semifreddo is very practical for the home cook, as it does not require special equipment such as an ice cream maker. It’s also time effective in that it only takes a few minutes to put together.
Once you get accustomed to how the mixture works, you can experiment with different flavors. The standard ratio I use is 25 percent whipped cream, 25 percent meringue and 50 percent custard. Some pastry chefs use 50-50 meringue to custard, skipping the cream altogether. I prefer the cream in the mix because it adds more richness to the semifreddo, and makes it more like ice cream.
This recipe tastes great on fresh-from-the-oven apple crisp or traditional pumpkin and pecan pies. Enjoy!
Honey Cinnamon Semifreddo
10 egg yolks
1 cup honey
2 tablespoons cinnamon
Pinch of salt
4 egg whites
½ cup white granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
In a double boiler on low heat, whisk together the yolks, honey, cinnamon and salt until a thick ribbon is achieved. Cool over a bowl of ice.
In an electric mixer, whip the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar to stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a second bowl and set aside.
Clean the mixing bowl and then combine the cream, powdered sugar and extract; whip to stiff peaks.
At a ratio of 50 percent custard to 25 percent meringue and 25 percent whipped cream, fold all three components together until well incorporated, making sure not to lose too much air in the process. Pour into a glass baking dish, cover the top with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.
Remove semifreddo from the freezer and run a hot butter knife around the edge of the pan. Invert the pan onto a cutting board and cut into rectangular servings. Serve immediately.
Dennis Clay is the executive chef at Inside Columbia’s Culinary Adventures. Learn more about Chef Clay and upcoming Culinary Adventures classes at www.CoMoCulinaryAdventures.com.