Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chocolate-Espresso Semifreddo


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! 

 

Chocolate-Espresso Semifreddo

Adapted from Food & Wine
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups sugar
Water
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.
My Note:  I would take the semifreddo out of the freezer about 15 minutes before serving to allow it to soften a bit.

60 comments:

  1. I love that your guests helped set-up, it will be a party well remembered! I wish all this extra rain, humidity, etc could just go out west for a while where it's really needed! Your dessert looks amazing Susan:@)

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    1. We've all been friends for years and some of us even vacation together. All hands on deck is common :) Thanks, Lynn!

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  2. How lovely look your dessert Susan beautiful! I alwsys love semifredo are elegant and delicious!
    Love your pictures!

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  3. Every thing looks so pretty, and sounds yummy. Glad the rain decided to clear out in time for your dinner. Beautiful flowers - thanks for sharing.
    Are you having problems with your reading list on blogger? At first I thought it was just me, but did some research and it seems to be a wide spread problem. On the google products forum "they" said they are working on the problem. Sure hope it is fixed soon.
    Enjoy your evening.

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    1. Thank you, Glenda! I haven't been on blogger since well before our party but I checked and see what you mean!

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  4. Hi Susan, what a wonderful delightful looking and delicious chocolate desert and you're table settings are just beautiful. .

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  5. I always love your outdoor tables..chairs..setting..by the pool..happy the clouds gave way..had no idea your weather had been so rainy in an ongoing fashion..
    Hope it clears up..
    Susan..are lady fingers..just plain..like for a tiramisu?
    It's gorgeous and sounds delish..poppy up close?
    Beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Monique! We were thrilled the weather cooperated. The ladyfingers should be the dry, crisp ladyfingers - not the soft ones.

      Yes, poppy. I loved the architecture detail of the spent poppy bloom! Look around above the stem. It's like she's wearing a gold necklace :)

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  6. PS..is that Betty?
    She has come here to visit too once again to my greatest pleasure.

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    1. Betty is back! We didn't have many clematis blooming since our party was earlier this year but thankfully Betty and a couple other joined us.

      That's Betty Corning clematis for those of you who are wondering who Betty is :) Beautiful lavender-blue bell-shaped flowers behind the table and in one of the dessert photos.

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  7. Replies
    1. So do I! Very long bloom time and lovely fragrance :)

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  8. Mother Nature decided to give you a break from the weather so that you could enjoy a good meal on the patio-awesome. This is a beautiful dessert dish.

    Happy Summer.

    Velva

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  9. So happy the weather cooperated! Your table is lovely, as is your beautiful array of flowers. I think Betty would feel at home in my garden too- I'll have to find her somewhere! Your dessert looks luscious and elegant- my favorite flavors. :)

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    1. Thank you, Betty, I'm pretty sure I ordered mine from Brushwood Nursery. Good price and service. Klezmer Song Sparrow nursery here in Wisconsin is another good source.

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    2. With your name you should have her :). She does need a sturdy support as she will get pretty big in a few years. Well worth a special spot in the garden.

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  10. Gosh I bet that was a lovely dinner. That is so nice - I wish I had a group of friends that would entertain! Love semifreddo and this looks wonderful. Here's hoping for great weekend weather!

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    1. That you, Tricia! We are lucky to have such a willing group.

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  11. We've had similar weather. Last Friday night we had 4 inches of rain. So glad it was a nice night for your party. The table is beautiful!!

    Wish I had a slice of the dessert. Looking forward to seeing your other recipes from the night!!!

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    1. Thank you, Julie! We were very fortunate that the weather cooperated!

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  12. OMG Susan, I have the same recipe in my folder and haven't had a chance to make it yet, but so glad you did! It looks amazing! And, I am so happy to hear the weather cleared up for you just in time for your guests to enjoy dining under the stars. Just beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Anna and Liz! It is delicious and just as good the next day or two.

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  13. I've heard about your weather on TV, all that rain and flooding...
    Now, how about that semifreddo... I must say it looks delicious, with an extra strong coffee flavor and those beautiful cookies here and there...it's a winner!

    ela h.
    Gray Apron

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  14. I love this post a lot...so summery and beautiful. And your dinner table in the garden...so so pretty.
    Now I am ready for a slice of this gorgeous frozen dessert!

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  15. What a grand finale - beautifully presented and gorgeous. I'm sure your party was a fabulous hit with your friends and how fortunate that you were able to dine outside.
    Sam

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  16. What a glorious grand finale for your summer night dinner, Susan.
    The Semi freddo looks fantastic, must try this for one of our next dinners.
    Love your outdoor table setting. So stylish and beautiful!

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    1. Thank you, Daniela! If you like the flavor of chocolate and coffee, you will love this!

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  17. If I lived closer, I would be asking (pleading) to join your group!! What a lovely setting and the meal sounds delicious. I'll be passing the dessert recipe to my pastry chef!!

    Best,
    Bonnie

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    1. Thank you, Bonnie! It is a fun group and most of us have been together doing this for almost 20 years. Hope you enjoy the semifreddo as much as we did!

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  18. It looks wonderful! Glad the weather turned for you! Another lovely party. I bet you were exhausted.

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen! Yes we were :) Thankfully, we can assign most of the recipes to members of the group but yes, still plenty to do in the house and yard and we don't have a yard or house cleaning service.

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  19. Your table setting is just gorgeous, sounds like it was a wonderful night with the great food and the weather cooperating like it did.

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    1. Thank you, Cheri! Yes, we were very pleased with how everything turned out that night :)

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  20. It has been a wet Spring and summer so far Susan, but it won't be long before we are all wilted with too much heat. This is a nice dessert to keep us c-o-o-o-l.

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  21. this looks wonderful and so glad you got to enjoy dinner outside :-)

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  22. Dearest Susan, Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! That table setting looks delightful... Those summery colors...so pretty. Glad the weather cleared up for your lovely gourmet party!!! Have to try that semifreddo :) Beautiful clicks!

    Wishing you a happy July!!!!

    We've been having a lot of rain and strong winds here :(

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  23. Looks like a great place to have dinner and nice of the weather to cooperate for your party - it's been doing that for us as well the past couple of weeks.

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  24. Susan, I always look forward to your summer soirées, and happy to see this one was just as successful!

    The Semifreddo is a favorite dessert, as is your home and garden. You should be very proud (and hopefully, rested). Enjoy your weekend.

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  25. weird, I have not been getting your posts in my e-mail as I usually do! anyway, this frozen dessert is to -die for! what a pleasure to enjoy it in the garden on this beautiful table. Wish Lebanon could have had more rain this year has been so dry. Wishing you a great 4th Susan!

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  26. What a lovely evening it must have been…a great looking dessert to end the dinner. I been seeing all the flooding in your section of the country. I'm glad the weather cooperated for the dinner and hope your weather gets back to normal very soon. Karen

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  27. What a fabulous finale, Susan! Beautifully presented and lovely flavors. I really like the idea of the ladyfingers inside the semifreddo!

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  28. I always love your posts about these parties. That dessert looks incredible. Colorado has had a ton of rain also and we're loving every minute of it. But flooding is so devistating I too hope your July is a little drier.

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  29. Love the yellow tablecloth Susan! I'm glad the weather cooperated for the dinner and that you weather improves soon. Joe enjoys ladyfingers, and eats them plain :-)

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  30. I'm so glad the weather held up for your dinner!! This semifreddo is just gorgeous. Such a treat, it looks five star restaurant worthy!

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  31. So glad it was a nice night for your party, your dinner table is lovely ! Semifreddo is a perfect dessert for summer party, warm hugs !

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  32. You were so lucky to move outside at the last minute. My family is arriving from Chicago on Wednesday and I'm praying for a dry week. Recent rains have been torrential. Crazy year for weather to be sure. What a beautiful dessert, Susan. and I especially like that it can be made ahead. I always look forward to your gourmet group's menu.

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  33. Hi Susan,
    Glad to hear that you had your party under the stars. How I wish we have some of the rain right now, we are experiencing a dry spell over here, and it is really hot.
    Your chocolate semifreddo looks absolutely divine!
    Hope the weather improves!

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  34. I love dining outside under the stars! It's magical and it does not get old! What a nice way to ring in summer with your friends!

    Your dessert looks fantastic, and I'm sure the rest of your meal was too.

    I hope you are invited to someone's home for the 4th and can rest some more!

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  35. This looks like such an elegant dessert, Susan! Perfect for a dinner party. I'm pinning it!

    Our spring and early summer has also been very wet and stormy. This past weekend was the first with no rain in many months! I guess the drought is over --a good thing!

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  36. Very elegant Susan and sometimes I prefer semifreddo from ice cream! It is softer and creamier!

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  37. What an incredibly delicious dessert, perfect for a midnight snack or soiree :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  38. The party sounds wonderful. What a wonderful combination of cool and ladyfinger! I made a semifreddo when we were in Italy at the cooking class and I think the lady fingers would have really added to it! I hope you have a wonderful 4th of July.

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  39. The dessert looks spectacular and the table is beautiful! So nice that the sky cleared and you were able to enjoy your summer gourmet meal outside. Very pretty flowers too :)

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