Looking for an absurdly delicious take on the classic “Creamsicle” flavor combination?
I thought so.
The second I saw this recipe, I was in. I wasn’t exactly sure what a semifreddo was, but I took a look at the ingredient list and figured that eggs, sugar, and heavy cream wouldn’t fail me – and a little tangerine love? Yes, please.
A semifreddo is really just a fancy Italian word for a frozen custard type of dessert. This recipe is actually quite simple – yolks, sugar, and citrus come together for a custard, the whites are beaten into a meringue-like cloud with the rest of the sugar, and cream is whipped into, well, whipped cream! They’re all folded together and frozen in layers with what happens to be the very best part of the recipe, which is the salted almond brittle.
Yes – it is the salted almond brittle that takes this one over the top. Without it, we’d be facing a super-creamy dessert with lots of fresh tangerine flavor – thanks to the quick sauce that’s added just before serving – but also a very sweet dessert. I actually added just a touch of lemon to the tangerine sauce to give it a little extra tartness, because my tangerines were oh-so-sweet. This way, we’ve got the holy flavor trifecta happening: salty, sweet, and tart. Holla!
In addition to bringing the salty vibe to the party, the brittle also provides that crazy-necessary element of crunch. Between the plush, ice-cream-like texture of the semifreddo (no ice cream maker required!) and the salty-crunchy goodness of the brittle, this dessert has it all.
It is by all means necessary to start this dessert a day or two in advance if you’re serving it at a dinner party as I did. I prefer a two day start: For a Saturday dinner party, make the brittle on Thursday night (or before if that’s easier – you can make it up to a week ahead) and make the semifreddo on Friday, because it needs to be frozen a day before serving. For me, this makes it a perfect dinner party dessert – you can be totally done with dessert before Saturday comes around, minus the super-quick sauce that you’ll make the day of!
(Another note: If anyone out there is as lucky as I and happens to have a sexy personal dishwasher at one’s disposal, make sure to do this one when he or she is home – you’ll have quite a few bowls to clean.)
I served this with a Moscato from Jam Jar (an inexpensive and delicious variety I picked up at Whole Foods – also on sale), which was another reason for my obsession with including in my dinner party line-up. Have you guys been hearing all the talk about Moscato lately? I don’t typically like sweet wine; I like my white crisp and refreshing – wine that tastes like white grape juice is just not my thing. Funny enough, that is just what Moscato is from: sweet, white-green Muscat grapes. I’ve since decided that I do enjoy a dessert wine, in a situation like this. There was something about the pairing that I just felt compelled to serve, and I suppose it was meant to be. I loved it.
I wish I could give you a more intelligent and educated reason behind why the wine and the dessert complemented one another so well – but the truth is, it just tasted good. Really good.
That’s reason enough sometimes, isn’t it?
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Tangerine Semifreddo with Salted Almond Brittle
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétit. I cut the almond brittle in half and found it was just the right amount (with room for a few bites for, er, testing) – though you could easily make it all and save it for another use (hello, food gift!). I also added a touch of lemon juice to the sauce for a little extra tartness. And what you can really thank me for is replacing the regular almonds with the already blanched and slivered variety – I did it myself, and it was quite a project. For me, a $5.99 bag of local tangerines (around 8 to 10) from Whole Foods was just the right amount.
Salted Almond Brittle:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Fleur de Sel (or other flaked sea salt)
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup fresh tangerine juice
- 2 tablespoons tangerine zest
- 2 cups chilled heavy cream
- 1 cup fresh tangerine juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 4 tangerines, peeled and separated into segments
Make the salted almond brittle:
Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with 1/2 the tablespoon of butter. Combine sugar, corn syrup, 1 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in heavy large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Boil without stirring until mixture turns amber and thermometer registers 330 to 340 degrees F, about 10 minutes. Be careful – as soon as it starts to get dark amber, you’re pretty much there – this can turn into a burnt mess fast.
Remove from heat; immediately stir in the rest of the butter, then almonds and baking soda (mixture will bubble). Working quickly, pour mixture out onto prepared baking sheet. Using a rubber spatula that you have sprayed with cooking spray, quickly spread mixture into a 15×10-inch rectangle – it does not have to be perfect.
Sprinkle Fleur de Sel evenly over brittle. Cool brittle completely at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours. Chop the brittle into large, irregular pieces and store in an airtight container (at room temperature for up to a week, if you’re making it ahead).
Make the semifreddo:
Line 9x5x3-inch loaf pan (the slightly larger one) with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving generous overhang on all sides. Don’t worry if the plastic wrap doesn’t lay perfectly; it sticks everywhere and it’s hard to deal with – it’s not you, it’s the plastic wrap.
Fill large bowl with ice cubes and water. Whisk egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, tangerine juice, and tangerine zest in medium metal bowl. Set bowl with yolk mixture over saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160 degrees F, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from over hot water and set over bowl with ice water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until thick and cool, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from over ice water.
Here’s where all the fun bowls come in! Beat cream in another large bowl until peaks form; set aside. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into yolk mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions. Fold in whipped cream in 2 additions until just incorporated.
Spread 1/3 of semifreddo mixture evenly in loaf pan. Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped brittle evenly over. Repeat layering with half of remaining semifreddo mixture; sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup brittle over, then spread remaining semifreddo mixture over (loaf pan will be very full and mixture will extend slightly over top of pan). Fold plastic wrap overhang over semifreddo to cover. Freeze overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead – no more, or the brittle might soften. Keep frozen.)
Make the sauce:
Bring citrus juice to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Boil until mixture reduces by half, stirring often, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl and stir in honey; cool completely. Stir in tangerine segments. (Make the day of serving. Cover and chill.)
Serve it up!
Invert semifreddo onto platter. Remove plastic wrap. Dip large knife into hot water, wipe dry, then cut semifreddo crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices, dipping knife into water and wiping dry as needed. Place 1 slice on each plate. Spoon tangerine sauce alongside semifreddo and serve.