The word semifreddo literally translates to “half-cold” and refers to a variety of chilled or partially frozen Italian confections including Bavarian creams, cakes, and frozen mousses and light custards. The version here is essentially a frozen apricot mousse, made light and airy thanks to the careful incorporation of whipped cream. Unlike ice cream, a semifreddo such as this does not need to be churned; instead, it is frozen in a loaf pan or a mold. When sliced it is beautifully flecked with golden bits of apricot. Smooth and light, it has just the right amount of tartness.–Domenica Marchetti
Makes 10 servings
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Place the apricots and orange juice in a small saucepan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer the apricots for 10 to 15 minutes, until they are softened. Remove them from the heat and let stand until cool. Puree the apricots and the juice in a food processor or blender until smooth.
Combine the half-and-half and vanilla extract in a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring the mixture just to the boiling point but take care not to let it boil.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until light and thick. Pour a little of the hot half-and-half mixture into the egg yolks, whisking rapidly to prevent the yolks from cooking. Pour the egg yolks back into the pan with the half-and-half and cook over medium-low heat until the custard is thick enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the apricot puree.
Transfer the custard to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Press the wrap right onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until the apricot custard is thoroughly chilled.
In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar until just stiff. Gently fold in the chilled apricot custard.
Line an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang of wrap on both sides and each end of the pan. Pour the apricot mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Cover the top of the semifreddo with the overhang. Freeze the semifreddo for at least 6 hours, until it is completely frozen.
To serve, remove the semifreddo from the freezer and unmold it onto a platter or cutting board. Let it stand for no more than 5 minutes to soften slightly. Cut the semifreddo into 3/4-inch-thick slices and set the slices on dessert plates. Scatter a few of the red and golden raspberries over each slice and garnish each with a mint leaf or two.
- The semifreddo may be made up to 3 days in advance and kept frozen until serving time.
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Apricot Semifreddo Recipe © 2008 Domenica Marchetti. Photo © 2008 Susie Cushner. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.