Semifreddo con Granella e Salsa di Cioccolato (Semifreddo with Ground Nut Brittle and Chocolate Sauce)

May 5, 2013Posted in:

Semifreddo con Granella e Salsa di Cioccolato
Semifreddo with Ground Nut Brittle and Chocolate Sauce
Serves 8

Semifreddo, which means “almost frozen,” unites the creamy coldness of gelato with the airy lightness of mousse. I grew up on it, and it’s added more than a handful around my midriff. The granella, a ground-up nut brittle, gives this semifreddo a tasty candy-bar crunch. (If you don’t want to make your own granella, you can buy a bar of peanut brittle and a bar of almond brittle, break them up, and grind them in a good processor.) For a really decadent flourish, serve the semifreddo with warm chocolate sauce and strawberries.

3 medium eggs, separated
6 ½ tablespoons sugar
½ cup Granella (recipe follows)
1 ½ cups heavy cream
⅓ cup water
Chocolate Sauce (page 320)
3 cups fresh washed strawberries (optional)

1. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with 2 ½ tablespoons of the sugar until they are pale. Add the granella and mix well. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium-high speed until it begins to thicken, then lower the speed and continue beating until the cream is stiff and glossy. Fold the whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and smooth.
2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar and the water to a lively bubble and let it cook for 3 minutes, or until the syrup is clear. Remove it from the heat. Turn your mixer to high, and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites, beating the 2 ingredients together for about 3 minutes. The mixture should triple in volume. Turn the mixer down to medium and beat until the whites cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture. Combine well but do not overmix, or the batter will fall.
3. Spoon the mixture into individual custard cups and freeze for about 6 hours, or until frozen completely like ice cream. Serve with the chocolate sauce and strawberries.

Ground Nut Brittle

¾ cup sugar
1 generous cup nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts), toasted and cooled
Sweet butter, for the pan

1. Melt the sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, then remove it from the heat, add the toasted nuts, and stir to coat all the nuts well.
2. Transfer the mixture to a well-buttered sheet pan and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Let this cool, then place it in the freezer until it becomes brittle.
3. Break the granella into chunks that will fit into a food-processing bowl. Process that granella until it is coarse and crumbly. Granella can be used for garnishing many sweets. Store these ground nuts in a container wrapped with plastic in a cool, dry place. They will keep for a month.