Another course boils down to a market tour where we buy whatever we might find in season on the day (yellow-foot mushrooms, baby peaches, wild greens amongst others at the moment) and plan a menu together from scratch. This got me thinking about fail-safe desserts that would carry local seasonal flavours well, while showing off the high quality of Oaxaca's dairy produce.
Enter the Semifreddo (AKA. frozen parfait, AKA no-churn ice-cream) flavoured with my handmade chocolate, studded with roasted crushed cocoa nibs, and served with vanilla bean cajeta. It's quite a thing, and on the night of its testing we had the added kick of a toasted hojaldra for crunch.
This is a very easy and satisfying recipe–you basically make a chocolate anglaise, then fold in an Italian meringue–so don't be fooled by the amount of steps. And really you can make it with any good quality chocolate. In the event that you use couverture chocolate (tempered European-style), grind up some roasted almonds and add them to the cream mix. The hint of texture and nuttiness is most welcome.
Semifreddo de Chocolate Oaxaqueño | Serves 6
160g Mexican hot chocolate (or 54%-70% dark chocolate), chopped
5 eggs, separated
1" cinnamon quill
1/2 vanilla pod
a good pinch of sea salt
20g crushed cocoa nibs (or shaved chocolate if nibs are unavailable)
Stage 1: Chocolate Anglaise
- In a small non-reactive sauce pan, heat the cream gently with the cinnamon quill and the seeds of the vanilla pod. At the point of boiling, remove from the heat and reserve.
- Whisk the egg yolks, sea salt and 20g of the sugar together in a stainless steel bowl until pale and well aerated. Strain the cream in to the egg mixture, combine then return to the heat in a clean saucepan.
- Cook on a low heat stirring all the while until the eggs are cooked (ribbon stage or 80 degrees Celsius , 180 Fahrenheit). Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Leave to cool.
Stage 2: Italian Meringue (start when the anglaise mix is at room temperature)
- Place the remaining 50g sugar in a small saucepan with 3oml water. Bring to the boil insuring all the sugar has melted. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
- In a large stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until at a medium peak. At this point, slowly introduce the hot syrup and continue to whisk until shiny and firm.
- Remove the whisk, and using a spoon gently fold in the chocolate anglaise and crushed cocoa nibs.
- Pour into a prepared mould (I threw one together from a loaf tin and some baking paper) then place in the freezer. Overnight is best, but a shallow dish will render a firm semifreddo in 4-6 hours. Serve as you see fit.