Hard to believe it, but we’re already at the second-to-last post in our two week Dolce Italiano contest/recipe series! Just to recap as my other dolce blogging teammates have done, so far we’ve had:
Chestnut Brownies, right here last Thursday
and last but certainly not least, Chocolate Salami, Jenn’s The Leftover Queen (and don’t forget to stop by her blog tomorrow for the last recipe and chance to enter!
The contest part is that a personalized, signed copy of the Dolce Italiano cookbook by pastry chef Gina DePalma of Babbo Ristorante in NYC is up for grabs. All you have to do is comment on one or all of the 10 posts in the series, no later than 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, December 7.
See, sometimes in life you can get something for free! (Take it from me, I once won a brand new car, and another time I won a trip to Florida. Hence, my lifetime supply of “contest luck” is already dried up. Yours might just be starting to flow!)
Now, onto today’s recipe. Like Ilva when she made the Cassata Siciliana, my second recipe was my husband’s choice. Personally I wouldn’t have chosen this recipe, because I’m not a huge fan of semifreddo, but when I tried to weasel my way out of it and make the Pumpkin Fritters instead, Alessandro wasn’t having any of that. He even pulled out the “sad me” face, complete with pout and tragic eyes. If you’ve ever seen Shrek, then you know what I’m talking about:
How could I possibly resist? So I went about collecting the various ingredients for this recipe.
I can’t tell you what a HUGE success this recipe was. It’s going to take me half a day to type it out for you here below, but it’s not complicated and I’d say it’s a pretty surefire way to get a big ego-boost and seem like a dolce genius with very little time and effort. Who knew that Dolce Italiano had a built-in self-esteem booster? Nice.
Not only was I showered with compliments by Ale, but when I took the rest to a dinner party the same evening, I was showered with compliments by other Italians. Who, in my experience, have always been just a *tad* suspicious of “the American girl bringing the dessert.” You know, because in the States we all carry guns everywhere and eat McDonald’s 24/7—what could I POSSIBLY bring to the dessert table that wouldn’t kill us all? Ah, ha ha, my friends! Turns out that the Dolce Italiano cookbook makes a very satisfying secret weapon, and no people or animals were harmed in the process.
So, get a load of this:
I’m not great with food shots, but take it from me, this was a very indulgent treat. It includes a chocolate sauce and is garnished with chopped pistachios. Without further ado, I bring you:
Chocolate and Tangerine Semifreddo
adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma (my notes/changes in italics)
For the semifreddo:
2 tangerines (I used clementini which are quite small, so I needed about 7-10 to reach the correct quantity of juice)
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. amaretto
4 large egg yolks
4 oz. chocolate wafer cookies, ground (I used Mulino Bianco’s Pan di Stelle)
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. mascarpone
Chopped pistachios, for garnish
For the chocolate tangerine sauce:
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. boiling water
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup (this is hard to find in Italy so I omitted it; I don’t think the texture of the sauce suffered much for it)
2 tsp. Triple Sec or other orange-flavored liqueur (I actually found a tangerine liqueur from Sicily in the grocery store so I used that)
To make the semifreddo:
Zest the tangerines and squeeze them. Reserve 3/4 cup juice and set the zest aside.
Place the chocolate, cocoa powder, 2 tbsp. sugar, and tangerine juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will bubble and then begin to thicken; continue cooking until it is almost the consistency of pudding, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tangerine zest and amaretto. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment (again this time I just used my regular hand mixer with the standard beater attachments and it worked fine) to beat together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on medium speed until light-colored and thick, about 2 minutes. Fold the egg yolk into the cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in the chocolate wafer crumbs.
Clean the bowl and the whisk attachment and whip the heavy cream with the mascarpone at high speed until it is thick and softly peaking. Gently fold the cream mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Look at my “folding” technique. I have no idea if it’s correct or not. I just really wanted an excuse to show you pure chocolate and heavy cream + mascarpone bliss:
Pour the semifreddo into a loaf pan or another freezable container and press plastic wrap on the surface. (I suggest you really make sure the plastic wrap is pressed consistently on the surface, because if there are air bubbles you might find little pockets of slight freezer burn.) Freeze for at least 6 hours, or until firm.
Before serving, make the chocolate tangerine sauce:
Zest the tangerine and squeeze it until you have 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice.
Place the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Pour in the boiling water and allow the ingredients to sit for 30 seconds, then whisk them together until smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream, corn syrup, tangerine zest, Triple Sec, and tangerine juice.
Scoop the semifreddo into individual bowls, or unmold the whole semifreddo by dipping the pan in hot water and inverting it over a plate and then slice it into portions with a hot thin-bladed knife. Drizzle each serving with some of the warm sauce and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. (I just left the whole thing in the loaf pan and cut out individual slices using a knife that I run under hot water before cutting around the sides of each slice, and used a wooden spatula to get the pieces out. It worked fine and made it easier for me to transport to the dinner later that evening.)
My drizzling skills need a bit of work, and the sauce without the corn syrup was a bit thick, but I made two nice little stripes:
The sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 days. Before serving, heat in the microwave or the top of a double boiler.
I highly recommend this recipe, and the whole cookbook for that matter. I can’t shamelessly plug it enough as a great holiday gift, because it is chock-full of beautiful recipes that anyone can make (302 pages), has a great design and layout with gorgeous photos so it makes for a pretty gift as well, and is also packed with fun and interesting stories, tips, and cultural culinary information. As Martha would say, (and she should know because she invited Gina on her show this past Monday): It’s a good thing.