I know that Jumpin’ Jack’s is still open, and thus summer is still upon us. However, I’m kind of jumping the gun on Fall.
Last night I spent hours at the stove making my first pot of Cuban black beans. It’s a crazy story. I got one large green bell pepper from the CSA, so naturally the thing to do is make a megabatch of beans in AUGUST! I also roasted an eggplant in the oven for an hour. Oh, and I slow-roasted a pan of tomatoes overnight. Those two last things are for escalivada. Mrs. Fussy is a very patient woman.
While these things were unthinkable just a couple weeks ago, they probably weren’t a great idea while we are still running the air conditioner. But it’s clear that summer is on its way out, and there are a lot of summertime things that I haven’t had a chance to write about.
Before we move into fall, and while I have ice cream sandwiches on the mind, this is probably my last chance to write about another frozen treat that is a classic, but remains under most people’s radar.
When I first learned to cook, I cooked desserts. My friend Raf had a great selection of cookbooks and I leaned heavily on them. He is the one who introduced me to Marcella Hazan. And while I have her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, I am still without Raf’s copy of Marcella’s Italian Kitchen.
It was the latter of the two that contained the recipe for Semifreddo di Cioccolato.
The funny thing is that everyone knows about gelato, cannoli, and tiramisu. But raise your hand if you’ve ever had a semifreddo. The New York Times did a story on them in 1987, so I guess they never really caught on in America, which is a shame.
The one I made was a fairly simple affair. Sweetened whipped cream flavored with grated chocolate and lightened with whipped egg whites. In many ways it was like a mousse that was then put into a loaf pan, frozen, unmolded, and sliced.
It’s like a very fine version of those cheap ice cream logs.
But unlike ice cream or gelato you don’t need a specialized machine to make this. Plus the only limits are your imagination. Some people use egg yolks and make their semifreddo with a custard base. Others will layer multiple flavors together. You could use individual molds to make something fancy.
Or, you could take a slice of the semifreddo and put it between two cookies.
The only people I know making one locally is All Good Bakers. It’s a great way to make something cold and creamy when you don’t actually have an ice cream machine. But it would be a mistake to think of it as a poor man’s ice cream. Because this classic Italian dessert has been served in some of the best restaurants around the world.
Texturally it’s different from ice cream. Marcella Hazan claimed it actually felt less cold on the palate. I’m not so sure I believe the assertion, but you can try it for yourself. Either whip up a batch, or head down to All Good Bakers.
I’ve yet to try theirs, personally. But they have three on hand: vanilla bean, peach, and cookie dough. A dish will set you back $4. More money than soft serve, but you can be sure theirs is made from the finest local ingredients available (including Meadowbrook dairy and eggs raised by their friend’s own flock). Or you could have the semifreddo in an ice cream sandwich for $6 between two cookies.
No, their ice cream sandwich will not be on Saturday’s Ice Cream Sandwich Throwdown. But apparently some people are loathe to drive to Saratoga Spring on Travers Day. I’m kind of amazed. I thought Albanians were made of tougher stuff.