Semifreddo, in Italian, translates to “partially frozen.” It has a lighter texture, and is more like a frozen mousse than ice cream due to the incorporation of lots of air in its preparation. I make several versions of this classical Italian dessert by adding different ingredients for various flavor and texture combinations. Some of my favorite include: Pistachio, Limoncello, Raspberry, Chocolate-Hazelnut and of course this one made with Ricotta and Almond praline. Semifreddo does take some advance planning since it needs at least 6 hours to freeze solid before serving, but it can be made well in advance and kept in the freezer for weeks if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
I love macaroons, whether they are made from coconut or almonds. These cookies are crisp on the outside and soft in the middle and are very easy to make. Almond paste is available in most grocery stores and is made of equal parts of ground almonds and powdered sugar. Don’t confuse almond paste with marzipan which has a much higher sugar content and less true almond flavor.
Almond-Ricotta SemifreddoCourse: DessertCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher salt
1 cup ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup heavy cream, cold
- Almond Praline
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whole almonds, lightly pounded
- Almond Macaroons
1 pound almond paste (about 1 cup)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, whites only
Granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Brush an 8 1/2-inch by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan lightly with oil. Line with plastic wrap, overhanging the sides and reserve.
- Crack the eggs in a mixing bowl, add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk (or use a handheld mixer) for about 6 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and continue whisking for about 5 more minutes.
- Place the ricotta and mascarpone cheese in a large bowl. Stir in the egg mixture, Amaretto and almond extract.
- Whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl until it reaches stiff peak stage.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the ricotta mixture.
- Sprinkle 1/4 of the ground praline mixture in the bottom of the lined loaf pan. Spoon 1/3 of the semifreddo mixture into the pan and top with another layer of praline. Continue with two more layers, alternating with the praline mixture and topping it off with the remaining praline.
- Fold the plastic over the top of the loaf, covering it tightly, and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
- To serve, remove the loaf pan from the freezer and pull the semifreddo from the pan. Remove the plastic wrap and slice the loaf into 3/4-inch slices. Serve with almond macaroons.
- Almond Praline
- Lightly oil a baking sheet.
- Put the sugar in a small saucepan and place over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns a deep golden brown.
- Stir in the crushed almonds and immediately pour the caramel onto the oiled baking sheet.
- Cool, and break into small pieces. Place pieces in a food processor and pulse until the praline is finely ground.
- Almond Macaroons
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Place the almond paste in a food processor with the sugar. Process until well blended. While the food processor is on, add the egg whites gradually and blend until well combined.
- Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Make balls with a #40 ice cream scoop and place about 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the cookies lightly with the granulated sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on the sheet. Use a spatula to remove the cookies from the sheet.