Do you want to know what my first item on my 2010 wish list is? An ice cream maker! But until I save up enough pennies for my dream model, I’ll have to settle for making semifreddos – a lifesaver of a recipe for those lacking in ice cream technology. The secret to making a creamy icecream-consistency semifreddo or parfait is to whip the buggery of the eggs and cream and a touch of gentle folding. It’s still not quite the same as ice cream (it melts a hell of a lot faster!) but it does its job of cooling and satisfying.
Salted caramel with praline chunks – oh my!
As soon as I saw this, I had to have it after the most severe bout of sugar craving you can imagine. Since it was an ice cream recipe, I had to adapt the method in order to make a semifreddo. Now y’all must know by now that I whinge like a little girl when it comes to making caramel or even at the simplest act of melting sugar. So it’s amazing that one unassuming recipe such as this can eradicate those fears in one fell swoop. By the end of it, I even admitted that I might actually like making caramel (by gawd!).
Personally I really need to crave caramel to enjoy eating it so small doses works wonders. My only gripe with this recipe was the amount of egg yolks! Six is a lot and it rendered a semifreddo so ‘eggy’ and rich that I was feeling ill from the sweetness and creaminess after my first (albeit large) bowl.
Next time, I’ll reduce the egg yolks and up the salt factor, as I’m utterly obsessed with salted desserts! In fact my favourite bits were the crunchy nuggets of salted caramel praline that were lovingly scattered throughout the semifreddo. If it so happens to last a few days, then those hard caramel chunks will start to melt and you’ll be blessed with a caramel ripple. Caramel lovers rejoice! Ummm…..
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
100g caster sugar
50g salted butter chopped
1 tsp salt
6 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean / 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste / 1 tsp vanilla extract
350ml thickened cream
For the praline
Pour the sugar in a even layer in a heavy based saucepan (not anything black as you’ll need to see the colour). Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or baking paper that’s lightly greased with unflavoured oil.
Over a medium fire, heat the sugar until the edges being to melt and it’s slightly brown. Using a silicone spatula, gently stir the melted sugar, scraping the botton and edges, into the centre. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Any lumps or clumps will eventually melt into the caramel.
Stir once in a while until the caramel starts to smoke and is a deep amber colour. This is where you need to work fast to prevent the caramel from burning.
Immediately stir in the salt (take no more than a split second) then without hesitation, quickly pour the caramel onto baking tray. Lift up the baking tray straight away and tilt and swirl so the caramel will spread over the tray to make as thin of a layer as you can. Set aside to cool and set.
For the semifreddo
Crush the sheet of praline into small chunks. You can use a mortar and pestle or break it into shards, pop into a plastic bag and bash the crap out of it with a mallet or rolling pin. Feeling less violent, I rolled my shards instead into the silicone baking mat and crushed with my hands. Set the crushed praline aside.
Combine the 100g sugar and 50ml water in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat and stir until sugar has dissolved. Brush sugar crystals off the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush then cook until a deep amber colour (around 8-10 minutes).
When caramel is the right colour, add the butter and salt and stir to combine (be careful of the spitting!). Add the cream and stir until mixed.
Meanwhile whisk egg yolks with the 50g sugar and vanilla seeds until pale, fluffy and thickened (about 6 minutes with a powerful electric hand mixer).
While whisking the yolk mixture continuously, slowly and steadily pour the caramel in a thin stream until it’s all incorporated. Continue whisking for another five minutes to cool the mixture down. Alternative submerge the bowl in an ice and water bath until it has come to room temperature then refrigerate until cold.
When it has cooled, whip the cream until soft peaks and gently fold with the crushed praline into the cooled yolk mixture. Pour into your container, cover loosely with cling wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.
You’ll probably have to let it sit out of the freezer for 5 minutes for it to be soft enough to scoop into and serve.