Remember when I blogged about Ferragosto and heading to the beach? Well, I did just that. Except I didn’t walk down my street to the beach. Instead, I flew 2,521 miles to the east coast, where I met my family in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Because we are all scattered around the country, we decided to pick a vacation spot where none of us live and none of us had been to before. The only other prerequisites for the location were beach/pool access and multiple golf courses for my dad. We also got to discover Charleston during our stay. As much as I love the west coast, the South has a certain charm. During the whole trip I was soaking in the history, the architecture, and the countryside. You can’t help but stand in awe of the hundred year old live oak trees with resurrection ferns turning bright green after an afternoon rain shower.
Of course, South Carolina has a lot to offer with its southern coastal cuisine as well. We feasted on all you can eat crab legs, shrimp and grits, amazing fried chicken, and ribs with vinegar based BBQ sauce. Not to mention I drank sweet tea every day. We were all definitely on vacation diets, which is to say that we weren’t on any sort of diet at all. And even though I was stuffed to the gills after dinner every night, I still found room to have a little ice cream before bed. So while there are a variety of Southern recipes I could have picked for this post, I thought ice cream was the most representative of my trip.
Ice cream, like Southern food, is comforting. It is also a nice, cool treat for the hot, humid weather. A couple of years ago I made these popsicles, recounting how I used to eat gelato twice a day in Italy during the summer. This time we are going to explore semifreddo, the perfect cure for your homemade ice cream craving if you don’t have an ice cream maker. Semifreddo translates from Italian as “half-cold”. It is a combination of equal parts ice cream and whipped cream that is semi-frozen. The result is cross between frozen mousse and ice cream. It’s fluffy, creamy, and easy.
Semifreddo is a great dish for a gathering of family or friends. Because you make it in a loaf pan, it presents as a pretty ice cream cake that you can slice. You can also just scoop it out of the pan like we did (after I took my pictures of course). The base of the recipe is simple and you can add any toppings you like. I chose cherries for the end of summer, even though they were already on their way out of season. The grocery store I went to didn’t have fresh cherries, so I got frozen ones. This ended up being a blessing in disguise because I didn’t have to pit them and they tasted great. Especially when they were combined with slightly salted, roasted pistachios and semi-sweet chocolate. This is the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer and beginning of fall.
Dark Cherry Semifreddo, serves 6-8
- ¾ cup granulated white sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon almond extract or amaretto
- 1 1/2 cups dark cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
Line a 9×5 loaf pan two times with plastic wrap, letting the excess hang over from the sides. In a double boiler, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar dissolves and the yolks triple in size – about 6-8 minutes. Be careful not to scramble the eggs. Take the egg mixture bowl and place it into an ice bath to cool.
Using a stand mixer or by hand, whip the heavy cream until it forms medium peaks. Carefully fold half of the egg mixture into the whipped cream, making sure not to deflate the whipped cream too much. Fold in the remaining egg mixture. Gently stir in the almond extract.
In the loaf pan, place 1/3 of the cherries, pistachios, and chocolate on the bottom. Scoop 1/2 of the cream mixture on top of the mixings. Add another 1/3 of the mixings to create a middle layer. Then, place the remaining cream mixture in the pan. Reserve the remaining mixings for toppings after the cream is frozen. Fold over the excess plastic wrap directly on the cream so a skin does not form. Place the pan in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours.
When you are ready to serve, invert the pan onto a plate and remove the plastic wrap. Top the semifreddo with the remaining mixings. Slice (or scoop) and enjoy!