Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peppermint Semifreddo

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, chilled3 large organic eggs, separated1/2 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 two desserts, depending on the size of your glasses.