This past weekend my husband and I hosted our gourmet group as we normally do during the summer. Saturday was the first day of summer and there were high hopes for this Summer Solstice Gourmet which was scheduled months in advance to accommodate the schedules of 5 couples.
If you live in the Midwest or have heard about our weather, it was been very rainy here this month and the past couple of weeks in particular. Golf courses have been closed due to flooding, flood watches issued, tornadoes and other mayhem resulting from the weather.
Up until 30 minutes before our guests were to arrive, there was an 85% chance of rain on Saturday night. We set the dining room table and arranged a cocktail area under the porch to keep dry and tried to keep our spirits from being dampened by the weather. Then, suddenly, all chance of rain was taken out of the forecast! The rain clouds simply dissipated as they approached from the west.
Our guests arrived and helped us set up the dining table outside and we moved all of the silverware, napkins, glassware and flowers to the patio table. Before long, we were dining under the stars on a somewhat humid but nonetheless DRY evening.
Although I wasn't able to photograph every course during our party, the menu was delicious. I hope to share a few of the recipes in the future. The main entree was a whole, prime New York strip loin roast from Costco. It took an hour to grill and was fantastic and provided us with left-overs for two days while my husband and I took a needed rest.
This Chocolate-Espresso Semifreddo from Food & Wine was the grand finale.
Crisp ladyfinger cookies layered in a espresso-flavored frozen chocolate mousse is a perfect summer dessert. It was served with a dollop of creme fraiche and raspberries that night but also tasted delicious the next day with fresh cherries soaked in Kirschwasser.
Fingers crossed for a dryer month of July!
Adapted from Food & WinePrintable Recipe
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups strongly brewed espresso
1/2 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin dissolved in 2 teaspoons of water
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
18 dry (crisp) ladyfingers or amaretti cookies
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, for sprinkling
Raspberries and Whipped Cream or Crème Fraiche for serving
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar with 3/4 cup of water and ¼ cup of the espresso. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Let the espresso syrup cool.
In a small saucepan, boil the remaining 1 cup of espresso over high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Pour into a medium heatproof bowl. Rinse and dry the saucepan.
In the same saucepan, warm the milk with the vanilla bean and seeds over moderate heat until bubbles form around the edge, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until melted. Discard the vanilla bean. Add the hot milk to the reduced espresso and whisk in the chocolate until melted.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs at high speed until light yellow and foamy. In the small saucepan, bring the corn syrup, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to a simmer. Cook over moderately high heat until the syrup registers to 235° on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes. With the mixer at medium high speed, gradually beat the hot syrup into the eggs. Continue beating until the mixture is very pale and has tripled in volume, about 4 minutes. Fold in the espresso mixture.
In a bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the mousse mixture until no streaks remain.
Spoon about one-fourth of the espresso mousse into a 9-inch spring-form pan. Dip 6 lady fingers into the espresso syrup until just soaked through. Arrange the lady fingers over the mousse in rows. Repeat the process two more times with the mousse and the remaining lady fingers, then top with the remaining mousse. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.
Before serving, warm a thin sharp knife under hot water. Run the knife around the edge of the semifreddo and remove the ring. Sift the cocoa over the top of the semifreddo. Cut the semifreddo into wedges and serve, garnished with fresh berries or fruit and a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraiche.
Make Ahead The semifreddo can be frozen for up to 3 days.