See these two beautiful balls of frozen beauty? They’re the super lucky result of a kitchen fail!
Working at America’s Test Kitchen I get paid to make recipes fail (in a sense) over and over again until they are positively bullet-proof and guaranteed to deliver great results for our fans. At home however, I try to keep kitchen failure to a minimum. That said, last weekend when making this semifreddo (Italian for half-frozen), I misread the recipe and ended up making a very different dessert from what the author intended. I was in a hurry to throw something together and get it into the freezer for dinner guests that evening, and in my haste, “lost” an entire cup of cream from my mix. Merde!
For those of you unfamiliar with the wonders of semifreddo, its a frozen dessert that can be made without an ice cream maker, and has a softly frozen consistency that feels more like a frozen mousse than an ice cream or gelato. The key to its airy texture is that its made with a light, fluffy Italian meringue that doesn’t freeze as solid as the custard base typically used when making ice cream.
As the recipe is written, it calls for 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream. 1 cup gets whipped and served alongside the semifreddo, and 1 1/2 cups get incorporated into the base before frozen. When the recipe was formatted for the web, the 1 & 1/2 cups to be mixed in the semifreddo base ended up getting split between lines in the instructions with the “1” showing up at the end of one line, and the “1/2” beginning the next line in the instructions. Oops….. I ended up reading right past the 1 and only used 1/2 cup of cream to melt the chocolate. I knew something was amiss as I whisked the meringue and chocolate base together as the consistency didn’t match what I expected, but at that point I was too far in to really make a change, so I decided to put on my test cook hat and look at the whole exercise as a bit of a kitchen experiment.
So…..I scooped the flavored meringue into a plastic container and popped it into the freezer for about 3 hours to firm up. The result? It was pretty freaking good! Without the additional fat from the “lost” cup of cream, the semifreddo was a bit sweeter than it otherwise would have been, but also much more rich in deep, bittersweet chocolate flavor. With the dulling influence of the dairy fat lessened, this frozen treat became a total chocolate BOMB.
The recipe I present here, is the ORIGINAL from Bon Appetit Magazine’s April Issue. I’m sure its delicious if followed to the letter, but if you want a super chocolaty treat, you might want to adopt my screw-up and cut the amount of cream used to melt the chocolate from 1 1/2 to 1/2 cup. Rather than chill it and beat it to soft peaks as the recipe suggests, just let the mix cool to room temp and gently fold into the Italian meringue before freezing. So good!
Cheers – Steve
Dark Chocolate Semifreddo
- 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus pinch for egg whites
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Combine chocolate, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Heat 1 1/2 cups cream in a small saucepan over medium until barely simmering. Pour hot cream over chocolate mixture and let sit until chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk chocolate mixture until combined and smooth. Chill, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 1 hour.
- Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until soft peaks form.
- Meanwhile, cook sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Clip thermometer to the side of saucepan; increase heat to medium. Bring to a boil without stirring and cook until thermometer registers 250°F.
- Working quickly and with motor running, pour syrup into egg whites in a steady stream, avoiding whisk so syrup doesn’t splatter. Beat until glossy, stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat).
- Using an electric mixer, beat chilled chocolate mixture until soft peaks form. Gently fold in meringue, leaving a few streaks. Scrape into a large loaf pan and cover. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.
- Just before serving, let semifreddo sit at room temperature 15 minutes. Beat remaining 1 cup cream in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Serve scoops of semifreddo in small bowls with whipped cream.