The first taste of a mango is always my personal signal that summer has arrived. That, and the riot of blooming jacaranda trees that cover Sydney’s lower north shore. The arrival of summer also means that I’m in much more of an ice-cream frame of mind. Mr Ed never needs an excuse to eat ice-cream and would happily consume great bowlfuls while standing naked in a blizzard. I, on the other hand, am a little more weather dependent and so I love it when the temperature rises and I can eat icy treats with abandon.
13 Nov 2012 - 1:53 PM  UPDATED 21 Aug 2014 - 11:50 AM

I recently tried to make homemade ice-cream with a machine that requires you to freeze the insert before churning. No joy. The insert defrosted long before the custard had churned and turned into ice-cream. Although more expensive, the machines that have the freezer built into them are my preference. However, in lieu of one of those (which my kitchen is lacking at the moment), a semifreddo is the perfect solution. It’s creamy, like ice-cream, but without the need for churning. It doesn’t get as firm as ice-cream, but that’s not really a problem as it always gets devoured in a matter of moments anyway.

Guy Grossi’s recipe on page 82 of the December issue looked like a great way to kick-off ice-cream season, with a mouth-watering combination of Italian meringue and almond praline. Of course, I completely ignored the recipe and rather than making the praline first, I got started on the syrup for the meringue – which was fine until I realised the praline needs to be set hard, for crumbling and stirring into the meringue. An easy solution was to stick it in the freezer for five minutes – job done. Anyway, back to the syrup. I thought had I liquid glucose in the pantry, but apparently not, so I substituted corn syrup – a super-sweet syrup that is used quite often in American cooking. I bought it to make caramel corn last Christmas, which was totally awesome and most of it got consumed before we’d finished unwrapping presents before breakfast. Would it be a decent substitute? Google answers are mixed, so I’ll just have to wait with fingers crossed and breath bated.

Once the syrup cools to 90°C, I gently pour it into the softly beaten eggwhites, and beat for five minutes. Next, I transfer the mixture to a very large bowl as it’s quite stiff and has almost filled the bowl of my electric mixer (and I still need to add 900ml of whipped cream and the praline). You will definitely need an oversized bowl to handle this kind of volume. Some of my favourite kitchen tools are a couple of large, cheap, stainless steel bowls that are easily found at kitchen supply shops. They are relatively cheap and I find them so useful – perfect for tossing salads before you put them in a bowl for the table, ideal for bread dough as you can basically knead in the bowl rather than the bench, and the very thing for making the above-mentioned caramel popcorn. And this semifreddo.

I fold the whipped cream and praline into the Italian meringue (regular meringue incorporates sugar directly into the eggwhites, whereas Italian meringue uses a sugar syrup), and then spooned it among a loaf pan and slice pan, both lined with baking paper, and into the freezer. There was a bit of bowl-licking once that was done and I’d be happy to serve this sweet and crunchy confection as-is, as a topping on fresh fruit, in a kicky lemon curd tart or as part of an Eton mess. However, on this occasion, I am patient and wait for it to freeze.

My patience is rewarded when I scoop out soft, creamy spoonfuls and top it with a little raspberry sauce. It’s light and sweet, with just a little crunch. If you’re feeling fancy, serve slices from the loaf pan, but I think gathering friends around the pan and handing them spoons would be just as effective. I scream for this particular ice-cream.

What’s your favourite icy treat over summer?

Editor, SBS Feast