Camilla, my caterer heroine in Lipstick on the Strawberry, has her orders full for Valentine’s Day.
She has her own Valentine troubles and would like to forget the whole thing, but she has customers to satisfy, and she recommends this dessert. Strawberry red, after all, is the color of romance.
Semi-freddo, or “half-cold” in Italian, is not quite an ice-cream. But it is equally delicious, and easy to make because it does not require an ice-cream mixer.
Camilla notes that you can fancy up semi-freddo using whipped eggs in a custard, or balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds, but her favorite is made simply with strawberries, sugar, yogurt and whipped cream. The recipe requires only ½ cup of sugar. If you have a sweet tooth, add a quarter teaspoon more.
3 cups fresh strawberries
1 tsp lemon juice
½ - ¾ cup sugar
12 oz heavy cream or whipping cream
4 oz Greek yogurt
½ tsp vanilla
Take a loaf pan and line it with plastic wrap so that the wrap folds over the sides and can come up and cover the entire filled pan.
Cut the green stem off the strawberries and wash and quarter them.
In a small stainless steel pot mix the sugar, lemon juice and 2 and a half cups strawberries.
Heat till boiling, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Strawberries will break down as if for jam. But do not let them become jammy – you want the berries to keep some of their shape.
Remove to a large bowl and let cool.
Separate ¾ cup of the mixture and put into the blender. Put the rest of the strawberry mix into the freezer for ten minutes.
Whiz the berries in the blender till you’ve got a sauce to cover the top of the dessert.
Now whip the cream till it forms stiff peaks. Then fold in the yogurt and vanilla. Spoon this into the loaf pan.
Remove the berries that have been in the freezer, and gently tip them on top of the cream/yogurt mix. With a spoon or spatula, slowly swirl the strawberries into the cream/yogurt, making a decorative red and white pattern. Fold over the plastic so it covers the dessert. Freeze at least two hours or overnight.
Refrigerate the sauce and the decorative berries.
When ready to serve, lift up the dessert in its plastic wrap and place upside down on a serving plate. Peel off the plastic. Slice the semi-freddo to serve, and top with the sauce and a few fresh berries on the side of each plate or pretty glass dish.