This is a lovely light, subtly fragrant summer dish. Making a semifreddo is a great way to do a fancy frozen dessert without the need of an ice-cream maker.
- 150 g caster sugar
- 400 ml water
- 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 tsp cooking salt
- 150 ml Marsala, plus 50 ml extra
- 4 very ripe white nectarines, peeled, destoned and halved
- 200 g ricotta, at room temperature
- 300 ml thickened cream , at room temperature
- 4 eggwhites
- 200 g caster sugar
- 50 ml water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes: 2 litres
Freezing time: overnight
Place the sugar, water, vanilla, bay and salt into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add the first lot of Marsala and the nectarine. Cook gently for 5 minutes and then remove from the heat and allow the nectarines to sit for 10 minutes or so.
Remove the nectarine from the liquor, process until smooth, set aside to cool.
Strain your poaching liquor into another saucepan and place it back on a high heat to cook down to become a sauce for your semifreddo. You want to cook it down by half until it thickens slightly, this will take about 10 minutes. At this stage, throw in the second measure of Marsala, swirl to combine and cook for another 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Set aside. This syrup can be kept at room temperature.
Place the ricotta into a large mixing bowl and use a spatula to work it until it becomes smooth. Add in the cream and whisk together until you have soft peaks. Set aside.
To make the sugar syrup, place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and boil together until it reaches 121ºC. Once your syrup reaches 115ºC, start your eggwhites whisking in a stand mixer until they reach soft peaks. This can be a little bit of a juggling act as you want them to be at a soft peak when your syrup reaches temperature.
When both are as they should be, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the whites as they keep whisking on a medium speed. Once all the syrup is in, keep whisking the whites at this speed until you can feel that the outside of the bowl is cool enough to touch, about 5 – 7 minutes.
It’s important at this stage that all your elements are at a similar temperature, the nectarines, the cream mix and the whites.
Add the nectarine mix to the cream base and fold it through for a moment before adding in half the white mixture. Continue folding this - you don’t need to be too gentle at this stage, until it’s all fully incorporated.
Add the rest of the whites and fold everything together, a little more gently this time, until the mixture is mainly uniform.
At this stage, have a look at your mix - it should still be the texture of cream at a soft peak. If it’s looking a little flat, give it a brief whisk.
Scrape this mixture into a plastic wrap-lined loaf tin (15 cm x 26 cm). Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to your freezer. Allow to freeze overnight.
When you are ready to serve, use the plastic to carefully jiggle out the semifreddo. Cut it into slices and lay them onto pre-chilled plates. Drizzle with your Marsala syrup and serve immediately.
• The semifreddo will happily live in your freezer for a good couple of weeks.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by O Tama Carey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.
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