quote about food

Semifreddo

So I was catching up on Shokugeki no Soma the other day and one of the dishes that was made was a semifreddo. It was made both my Aldini and stalker dude, but I opted to make Aldini’s because it’s a little simpler and this is already a difficult recipe. Here is what it looked like in the show. 

It’s a 4 layer dessert that starts with a pate a genoise on the bottom (a sort of sponge like cake), followed by a thin layer of lemon curd, then the semifreddo itself, an almond praline on top, and then the dish is dressed with a limoncello syrup. 

This is one of the harder dishes I’ve attempted from the show. Overall I think mine turned out well, but there were areas that needed improvement. It would be a gigantic wall of text to write out a lot about each layer, so I’ll just go through what caught my attention with each layer. 

The pate a genoise requires you to beat the eggs and sugar together over a double boiler and then whip that to double the original volume while it’s cooling and then very gently fold in the flour. This gives it a really luxurious fluffy texture. Unfortunately I mostly collapsed the mixture when I folded in the flour. So mine was pretty squat and dense. It tasted alright, but the texture was not great. 

The lemon curd is the next layer, and one of the simpler parts of the recipe. You just take all the ingredients and throw them in a saucepan and whisk it together as you heat it up. The tricky part about it is that the curd goes from really thing to oh no the eggs are about to scramble really fast. I had to very quickly put mine into an emergency ice bath to stop it from cooking further. I’d recommend making a lemon curd at some point. It’s fairly straightforward and is a great spread to put on anything. I’ve been enjoying the leftover curd on waffles. 

The next layer is the Semifreddo. Much like the pate a genoise it requires you to heat a mixture over a double boiler and then whip it to double the volume. If you’re not familiar with cooking over a double boiler it would be real easy to scramble the 7 egg yolks in the mixture. The recipe I used called for bringing it up to 170′F and then taking it off and whipping it as it cooled down. The MVPs here were the instant read thermometer and the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. But a bit more about the eggs. So egg yolks start to set around 160′F and you have to bring the mixture up to 170′F. This means that if you stop whisking it and let it sit for a bit it will start to basically scramble. This is bad. You can’t make a frozen custard out of scrambled eggs. But if you’re diligent with whisking and taking the temperature pretty regularly it’s not a huge problem. Once you’ve cooled it down and beat it, you fold in whipped cream and then pour it into a mold and let it freeze. It was topped with chopped roasted almonds.

The praline is very straightforward. I have a really hard time with candy, so I was a bit nervous about this part of the dessert. The recipe I followed called for gently melting a cup of sugar in a saucepan until it turned a pale golden, and then letting it sit and darken to a deep golden and then you stir in the nuts and then pour it out on a tray. I’m pretty sure the deep golden that was referenced is hard crack (~300′F) but I’m not sure exactly. Overall it turned out more like a brittle than a praline, but that’s ok. It was better than I expected. The texture was pretty hard though, and blitzing it in the food processor would have made plating and eating the dessert a lot easier. (yes the wooded fork became one with the candy)

The last part of the dish is the limoncello syrup. I didn’t take any pictures of this step so I’ll talk a bit about limoncello. It is a liquor that is typically produced in southern italy and has a very strong lemon flavor as you might have expected. It varies greatly in sweetness but typically has some amount of sugar in it. I looked up how to make it by scratch and it’s pretty simple. You take a denatured spirit (everclear is a good example) and steep lemon peels in it (with the white part removed from the inside. That’s really bitter and would not give you the desired taste) for 100-140 days. It’s very simple to do, but it’s a long time to wait. I think I’ll make some sometime, but that’s not on the radar just yet. So to make the syrup I just reduced some limoncello with a little bit of lemon juice and sugar to make a simple syrup. 

So it’s time to put the creation together! The semifreddo melted much faster than I was expecting which made this kind of hard to plate. But here you go!

It was starting to fall over and melt pretty quickly so this is the best picture I managed to get. Overall I was really happy with the dish. The lemon curd turned out excellent, the semifreddo had a wonderful lemon flavor and really light fluffy texture (due to it being made of things that got whipped a bunch, lots of air in the mixture). The praline was too hard and when you tried to put a spoon through it, it squashed the whole cake down. Had I blitzed it in the food processor and just poured crumbles over the top it would have been a lot easier to eat. It still tasted good. As I mentioned before the cake was a little too dense and sort of overpowered the rest of the dish. But If you got a small bite of cake with a larger bite of the other things it was super tasty. 

It was a lot of work to make this dish and I wouldn’t recommend it for people not confident in their cooking abilities. Each part of the dish can go catastrophically wrong really fast, from double boiler disasters, to your candy turning into glass. But if you’re confident in your abilities then it’s a fun dessert to make for a special occasion. If you happen to have liquid nitrogen, dunking the semifreddo in it before plating would help solve the melting problem, but I’m going to assume very few people have access to liquid nitrogen for home cooking. I aspire to get some, but I don’t have it yet.