I'm not big on watching cooking shows, but last week I got sucked into an episode of Giada at Home. I decided to make a semifreddo based on Giada's recipe. I made a few changes, namely the crust is entirely different, I cut the sugar by a quarter cup and used some almond extract because I was fresh out of vanilla (I know, I know). Crust:
roughly 1-1/2 cups of mini Nilla wafers
4 tablespoons of melted butter (or margarine)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack in the center. Spray a nonstick loaf pan (around 9 by 5 by 3-inch) with vegetable oil cooking spray. Measure out 2 pieces of parchment paper, the first 3 by 15 inches and the second 7 by 12 inches. Use these pieces to line the pan, allowing the excess to hang over the ends and sides.
In a food processor, blend the wafers until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the edges of the crust are golden. Cool.
8 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 to 1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup of Nutella, at room temperature
For the custard-like filling, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt and almond extract in a medium glass bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water (otherwise you get scrambled eggs). Whisk the egg mixture for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it becomes pale, thick and creamy. Put the bowl into an ice water bath immediately to cool.
While the custard mixture cools, prepare the whipped cream in another medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until thick. Then, add the tablespoon of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Mix about a quarter of the whipped cream into the cooled custard. Using a spatula, lightly fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Drop in the Nutella by the spoonful and gently fold in leaving it a little chunky.
Pour the mixture on top of the prepared crust and cover with the excess parchment paper. Freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. Serve in 1-inch thick slices.
This dessert is super decadent and rich which is why I chose to change the crust and cut back on the sugar. The Nilla wafer crust is plain but tasty and the custard and Nutella are plenty sweet. I didn't get a picture of the plated version but Giada recommends removing the parchment paper and inverting the semifreddo onto a platter. Making this dish requires a little bit of patience and basic cooking skills, I definitely wouldn't recommend it for a first-time cook. Also, this dessert won't travel well due to its semi-frozen state so I'd suggest making this for a dinner party or perhaps a backyard barbecue. The end result is creamy and delicious.