Valentine's Day with Anita Chu
Think Valentine’s Day and the usual suspects populate the dessert lineup: molten chocolate cakes, fondue, truffles. Instead of going for the obvious choice of gooey and chocolatey, how about something light and cold, yet no less decadent and luxurious?
Among the variety of chilled desserts you can make at home, semifreddo is an oft-overlooked option. Semifreddo, which is Italian for “half-cold”, is a wonderful way to enjoy something frozen without needing to own an ice cream maker. There are numerous methods to making semifreddo, but most of them involve making a custard of eggs and sugar, and then folding in whipped cream, which gives semifreddo its dreamy, light texture after being frozen. While chocolate is the classic choice for a Valentine’s dessert, I love pairing it with berries, especially since my husband is a big berry lover. He was a huge fan of the swirled strawberry cupcakes I created for Driscoll’s last year, so I wanted to use Driscoll’s berries again to make him a sweet finish for Valentine’s Day this year.
This triple layer semifreddo is an updated version of the classic Neapolitan combination: toasted almond, raspberry, and hazelnut chocolate. The almonds and hazelnuts mixed throughout add crunch, while the berries give freshness and color. Although it will look to your valentine as if this dessert required hours of careful assembly, it really requires mostly patience for the individual layers to freeze; the actual preparation is simple enough that it will leave plenty of time for you do some last minute gift-shopping or to chill the champagne.
Waxed paper cups make the perfect tool for molding this dessert: the 5 ounce size cups are just right to create individual portions, and they peel easily off the frozen semifreddos without muss.
Although this recipe calls for raspberries, it’s easy to substitute strawberries. You can puree any leftover berries with some sugar and strain to make a quick coulis for drizzling. Scatter a few more toasted almonds or berries around the plate, and you have a simple but dazzling dessert presentation.