Chocolate Raspberry Semifreddo with Warm Rose Scented Raspberry Sauce
I’m back! I’m back! Well, sort of. I think my brain is still somewhat addled from the funny hours that I’ve been doing at work. Tuesday, in particular, was a bit of an occupational donkey punch and at one point I think my body forgot how to sleep. I do, however, somewhat remember this conversation:
Tina: “HEY BABE!! HEY! HI! Whatcha DOING?! Wanna play a game? Let’s play A GAME!!!!”
Mike: “I’m….at work. I’m….working. You know, because it’s….work. Um…what are YOU doing, and why are you still awake?”
Tina: “Oh, I’m GOOD, I’m GOOD!! I’m home! I’m eating dinner….or breakfast?”
Mike: “Oh god. What….what are you eating?”
Tina: “Mmm…chipotle baked beans (so spicy! so delicious!) and some cheese and a bit of leftover curried noodles and -“
Mike: “Tina, for gods sake, it’s 9 a.m.!”
Mike: “TINA, FOR GOD’S SAKE, IT’S 9 a.m.!!!!!”
Tina: “What, WHAT?! I’m allowed to have an afterwork drink, aren’t I? Well, it’s AFTER WORK.”
Mike: “Just…just go to bed. Please. Go to bed.”
He’s been very patient with me, to say the least. Now that I’m back to my only semi-irregular hours, I felt that I should make him something special, treat-like and fattening as a thank you for putting up with me these last few weeks. I thought about baking him a fabulous multi-tiered cake with lots of booze-soaked layers and icing an inch thick, but then I remembered that I lost one of my cake pans a few years ago (I think it was shrapnel in the last of a long string of failed relationships) which means that since 2006 or so I’ve only been able to bake cakes 1 layer at a time. Huh. I should really do something about that. In the mean time, however, I have loaf pans out the arse, so “Things That Are Loaf Shaped” will actually be Chapter 13 in my as yet unwritten book of culinaria. I figure it will be good sandwiched somewhere between, “Yes, You CAN Do That With Cheese!” and “Don’t Be Silly, There’s Nothing Evil About Squid.”
So. Semifreddo. If you aren’t familiar with semifreddo, it’s Italian for “semi- frozen”….except that they’re often served very frozen, but perhaps with a warmed sauce on the side to get that hot/cold sensation on the tongue. “Semifreddo” sounds daunting and elegant, but it’s really not. Essentially, it’s just a frozen mousse…..or a glorified ice cream cake. Either way, quite delicious to say the least. Oh, and easy. One must not forget easy. The only daunting thing about this recipe is the exorbitant dirty dish cache that you’re left with at the end, when all that you’ve made is a custardy mousse…but ridiculous dish piles are really my forté, so hey, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and you can’t make a chocolate mousse without dirtying a few bowls.
Now….about the eggs. We all have our own peculiar or surprising likes and dislikes, right? For example, I’m always surprised by the fact that I abhor roasted red peppers (despite the fact that I utilize them frequently in a last ditch effort to convince myself that they’re really not so bad), and that I have a sickening fondness – that I dare not plunder the depths of – for Cheez Whiz. It saddens me that I adore caviar but I’m repulsed by salmon roe, and on the topic of eggs I also can’t (eeeep!!) bear the thought of eating raw eggs. I KNOW that the likelihood of my fresh eggs being riddled with salmonella is slim to nil. It’s not that. I also know that I LIKE eating dishes that contain raw eggs (as long as it isn’t stated outright), like strawberry mousse or tiramisu. It’s just…well…okay, I’ll make a lemon-tarragon aioli and it’s delicious but with every bite I have to mentally close my eyes and pretend it’s something else. I just can’t do the raw egg thing. All that to say that many semifreddo (or frozen custard, ice cream, etc) recipes use raw egg yolks and whites, but I just can’t. I’m sorry, I’ve tried, and I’ll KEEP trying, but right now I just can’t. So they get cooked. That’s just all there is to it.
On a lighter note, YAAAAAAAYYYYY RASPBERRIES!!! Okay then. Let’s just move on.
Chocolate Raspberry Semifreddo with Warm Rose Scented Raspberry Sauce
Serves 8-10, depending on how generous you are
Chocolate Raspberry Semifreddo
- 200 g (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup Port
- 2 cups whipping cream *
- 2 tbsp rose water, optional **
- 1 cup raspberries ***
Rose Scented Raspberry Sauce
- 2 cups raspberries ***
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp Port
- 2-2.5 tsp rose water**
* I don’t generally let cream get too close to my kitchen, not because I don’t like it but rather because I do – so much that it shames me. Whenever possible I cut the fats and sub in buttermilk, yoghurt, and so forth….but not this time. After all, this isn’t for me, it’s FOR MIKE….right? Maybe? Jeez, who am I fooling? No one, that’s who.
** Rose water is a distilled extract made from rose petals, and it can have a very pungent rose flavor. The rose scent and flavor tends to deteriorate as it ages or when it’s heated, and different brands of rose water will have different pungency. In the semifreddo base the rose water will lend only just the faintest whisper of rose to the dessert, but in the raspberry sauce it will be much more pronounced. You may want to start by adding 1.5 tsp of rose water and adding by the 1/2 tsp, tasting all the while, until you have a flavor that you like. After all, a deliciously romantic scenting of rose is just delightful, but nobody wants to feel like they’re licking the floor of a flower shop on the day after Valentines.
***You can use fresh or frozen raspberries, but I’m using frozen for a trinity of reasons:
– They’re cheaper
– They hold their shape better
– It’s what we had in the freezer
Begin by separating the eggs. Put the egg yolks into a medium sized heat proof bowl. You won’t need the whites for this dish, but that’s a lovely egg white omelet just waiting to happen….
Add the sugar to the egg yolks and give it a good whisk. In another medium heat proof bowl put the chocolate, cocoa powder and Port. Put both bowls over a small pots filled with about an inch of water. Heat the water over a medium heat until it starts to simmer, gradually melting the chocolate and warming the eggs.
Whisk the eggs regularly as they heat up. If you leave them alone they’ll start to scramble, and nobody wants that. Continue heating and whisking for about 5-7 minutes after the water has come to a simmer, or until the eggs are pale golden and have thickened up enough that they look like a thick bechamel sauce.
Stir the chocolate as well, as it melts, until it’s smooth and glossy.
Turn the heat off from below both bowls, and slowly pour the molten chocolate into your thickened eggs a little bit at a time, whisking constantly as you do so. The mixture will get rather viscous. Let this cool for about 5 minutes but whisk or stir it from time to time to make sure that it doesn’t develop a skin on top.
While the custardy chocolate mixture starts to cool, add the rosewater to the whipping cream and beat it until the cream forms stiff peaks.
Pour the slightly cooled chocolate into the whipping cream and gently start to fold it together using a wide spatula.
Line a large loaf pan with plastic wrap, ensuring that there is a 3-4″ overhang on both ends. You will need a rather large loaf pan because this is too much lovely creaminess to fit in one of the smaller ones. Mind you, if you have extra you can always pour it into a small ramekin for a single serving late night treat…..
Pour half the chocolate mixture into the loaf pan and dollop on half of the raspberries.
Pour the rest of the chocolate mixture on top and dot with the rest of the raspberries. As you can see, this JUST fit inside the loaf pan, so if you have various sizes go for the one that just looks BIG.
Tuck the pan inside your freezer for at least 4-6 hours, or overnight if you prefer.
In the mean time, about 20 minutes before you want to serve the semifreddo, get started on the raspberry sauce.
Set a small pot over medium heat and add the raspberries, port and sugar. Let this start to simmer, bubble and pop for about 15 minutes or until the raspberries are liquefied into a seedy ruby soup and the total volume has been reduced by about 1/3. Take the raspberry sauce off the heat and stir in the rose water.
To serve the semifreddo, gently remove it from the loaf pan, peel off the plastic wrap, and cut it into generous 1/2″ – 3/4″ slabs with a hot knife.
If the semifreddo doesn’t want to unmold, treat it like you would a stubborn popsicle – with a bit of warm water around the outside of the container. The easier way to do this is to fill your sink (or a large pan) with about 2-3″ of warm -NOT hot- water. Sit the semifreddo in this for 5-6 seconds and then try to unmold it by flipping it upside down and rapping firmly on the bottom. If you’re still having difficulty, repeat this process again.
Drizzle the semifreddo with a little bit of the warm rose scented raspberry sauce, and serve it immediately before it melts.
The deceptively light and airy texture of this dessert might be enough to tempt you into thinking that it isn’t rich and laden with fat. That’s a good thing. Go with it, at least until you’ve polished off your second piece. We all deserve these little joys, once in a while.
As far as being romantic goes, I’m…..not. I mean, I do love me some flowers, but eventually they’ll just wither into a desiccated mass on my dining room and then I’ll forget to clean up until one day I notice the mass of molting grey hay on the table cloth. Generally, I say spare the rose and bring me a six pack. However, there are still times when I want to feel like a lady, a seductress, who comes bearing tidings of chocolate and roses in a titillating treat for my man.
Or, sometimes, I feel like making a dessert that says, “Thank you for making me an omelet for dinner last night when my energy was so low that otherwise I would have just gnawed on the soles of your shoes for a little while.” Ah. That’s love.
See? Even a corrupted and truculent soul like mine can still see the beauty in chocolate, raspberries, and the soft scent of rose petals.
(Psssst – MIKE. Hey, OMELET MAKER…..there are 5 egg whites in the fridge….just sayin’…..)