Following her cookbook and YouTube series "Dessert Person," food writer and chef Claire Saffitz answers the most asked after dinner question.
"So much of baking and pastry is about moisture and controlling moisture so that you have the correct proportions of everything," Saffitz says of "fruit management," a term she coined to describe all of the various ways she treats fruit to incorporate them into desserts.
With recipes for malted and salted caramel pudding, pinwheel cookies, and frozen desserts like coffee stracciatella semifreddo, Saffitz keeps decisions effortless in her latest book, "What's for Dessert?"
Coffee Stracciatella Semifreddo (GF)
DIFFICULTY: 3 (Moderate)
SERVE WITH: Free-Form Hazelnut Florentines (page 214)
ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 4 hours 40 minutes (includes 4 hours for freezing)
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: Metal loaf pan (4½ × 8½ inches, measured across the top), hand mixer
I have a cooking and baking philosophy that goes like this: If the store-bought version is better than my homemade version, I buy it rather than make it. That’s why I rarely make ice cream at home, since the limitations of home machines mean that a highend brand will always be smoother and creamier. Semifreddo, though, is not ice cream. While scoopable, it’s a frozen style of mousse that has a lighter, airier texture than ice cream, and it doesn’t require spinning or churning. This particular semifreddo is coffee flavored—because coffee frozen desserts are the best frozen desserts—with the addition of melted chocolate that’s drizzled in stracciatella-style so it forms fine chips that melt in your mouth. It’s not ice cream, but it satisfies in the same way. Keep in mind that it contains raw eggs.
- 2 cups heavy cream (16.4 oz / 480g), chilled
- 2 ounces (57g) semisweet chocolate (64%-70% cacao), melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs (3.5 oz / 100g), whites and yolks separated, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ¼ teaspoon Morton kosher salt
- ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar (3.1 oz / 88g)
- PREPARE THE PAN: Line a 4½ × 8½-inch metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a couple inches of overhang along the sides. Place the pan in the freezer.
- WHIP THE CREAM AND DRIZZLE THE CHOCOLATE: In a large bowl, with a whisk or hand mixer, beat the cream on low speed to start and gradually increase the speed to medium-high as it thickens, until you have a firmly whipped cream that holds a stiff peak (see Whipping Cream, page 355). Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cream in a thin stream, making a random crisscross pattern, then transfer the bowl to the refrigerator.
- WHIP THE YOLK MIXTURE: In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, espresso powder, vanilla, salt, and ¼ cup (1.8 oz / 50g) of the sugar and beat with the hand mixer (no need to wash the beaters after whipping the cream) on medium speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat the mixture until it’s extremely light and thick, and forms a slowly dissolving ribbon as it falls off the beaters, about 5 minutes (for a visual of “ribbony” egg yolks, see Blanching and Tempering Eggs, page 348). Set the mixture aside and clean the beaters well for the egg whites.
- BEAT THE EGG WHITES AND SUGAR: Place the egg whites in a separate clean, medium, nonplastic bowl. Beat on medium-low speed with the hand mixer until the whites are broken up and frothy, about 20 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the whites are foamy and opaque, about 30 seconds, then gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating constantly. Once all the sugar is added, continue to beat just until the egg whites are dense and glossy and form a medium peak (see page 340 for what this stage looks like). Try not to overbeat or the whites will take on a dry, grainy texture and be difficult to incorporate. Set the bowl aside.
- ASSEMBLE THE SEMIFREDDO AND FREEZE: Remove the bowl of whipped cream from the refrigerator and scrape in the yolk mixture. Beat with the hand mixer on medium-high until incorporated, then increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture holds a stiff peak and the chocolate is broken up into fine pieces, about 1 minute. Scrape in the egg whites and fold gently to combine (for more on the proper technique, see Folding a Mixture, page 351). Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Cover with the overhanging plastic, pressing it directly onto the surface of the semifreddo, and transfer to the freezer. Chill until the mixture is frozen solid, at least 4 hours.
- SERVE: Uncover the pan and scoop the semifreddo into bowls. Serve immediately.
"What's For Dessert?" Copyright © 2022 by Claire Saffitz. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House."