Whipping up a special dessert treat

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England’s hot young chef, Jamie Oliver is the author of the best-selling cookbook, “The Naked Chef” and he appears — fully clothed — on NBC’s “Today” show, to demonstrate how to make some delicious Italian ice cream. Check out his semifreddo recipe below.

SEMIFREDDO Jamie Oliver

Serves 12

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t groaned with pleasure at eating this! It is so delicious and really quick and easy to make. This recipe, with variations, is a great substitute for ice cream because, although I personally love making ice cream, who makes it at home in reality? Almost no one! We just go and buy some. I know I do.

Semifreddo is special in its own right — it’s as diverse and refreshing as ice cream. I have given you some of my favorite variations, but you can experiment with the basic recipe yourselves.

For best results, it’s important to gather all your ingredients together and make it as quickly as possible (no pressure intended! It’s just better to freeze it with as much air in as possible). After preparing your flavoring, the semifreddo takes literally four minutes to make. Once made, pour it into any chosen container — I like to use a large earthenware dish.

Then place it in the freezer.

I always make this quantity. If you make more than you need, just scoop the leftover piece into serving portions and put it back into the freezer.

Then, when you want a piece, take it out of the freezer, let it thaw slightly in the refrigerator to “semifreddo” (semi-frozen), and remember — the same rules apply to this as they do to ice cream, in that you can’t leave it hanging about and then refreeze it. That’s asking for trouble!

Semifreddo is quite rich. To complement it perfectly, serve it with some fresh fruit beside it —raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, cherries — whatever’s in season. In Italy they often serve it with caramel or toffee, and even a fruit coulis sometimes. I don’t really like all that stuff, but it’s up to you. Just don’t try too hard.

Remove the seeds from the vanilla bean by scoring down the length and scraping the seeds out of each half. Whisk the vanilla seeds and sugar with the egg yolks in a large bowl until pale. In a second bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form. (Important! Please don’t overwhip it.) Then in a third bowl whisk or beat the egg whites with an electric mixer with a pinch of salt until they form very firm peaks (this is when you can pull the egg whites in any direction and they will stay like it). At this point add the flavoring you have chosen (see the variations to follow, or choose one of your own), the cream and egg whites, to the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold in. Immediately scoop the contents into your chosen container. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until you’re ready to eat it.

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VARIATIONS:

Praline Semifreddo

Ingredients

    • 11oz peeled hazelnuts
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup water

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Figs and Honey Semifreddo

Ingredients

    • 11oz dried figs, chopped
    • 3 generous tablespoons honey, or to taste
    • 6 fresh figs

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Turrón Nougat Semifreddo

Ingredients

    • 14oz turrón nougat (flavor of your choice — and the best one that you can find)
    • 5oz shelled unsalted pistachio nuts
    • 2oz bittersweet chocolate
    • 2 generous tablespoons honey

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Reprinted by permission of Hyperion Books. Excerpted from “The Naked Chef,” by Jamie Oliver. Copyright 2000. All rights reserved.

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