In case you can't tell from my blog design, my favorite colors are pink and green. In addition to using them in my blog design, they were my wedding colors, and also the colors of Caroline's nursery. So pretty much from the moment I saw this dessert in June's Bon Appetit, I knew I needed to make it. Not to mention that I am absolutely loving pistachio flavored desserts these days, and strawberries are at their peak. So I knew this would be something I'd love.
In case you're not familiar with the term "semifreddo," it basically means half-cold. It is a custard based dessert that is lightened with whipped cream, so it's a bit like ice cream, but has sort of a mousse-like texture at the same time. When reading the instructions, it seemed kind of complicated and labor intensive (prep each flavor, make the custard, whip the cream, freeze each layer individually..), but once I started it was very straightforward. The only "difficult" step was straining the pistachio mixture. It had thickened significantly upon standing, so it definitely took some elbow grease to extract as much liquid as possible (though it was really more of a paste). And it turned out to be my favorite layer of the dessert. Other than that, everything else came together quite easily. The hardest part was waiting for it to chill, so I could dig in :-)
As expected, this turned out to be such a pretty dessert. As I mentioned, the pistachio layer was my favorite, but the strawberry and vanilla layers were great as well. This would be a great dessert for entertaining, since it is made completely ahead of time, and it presents so beautifully. I think it would also be great served with strawberry sauce or chocolate sauce, but it was still wonderful on it's own.
Pistachio, Strawberry, and Vanilla Semifreddo
adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2011
- 1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus 1/2 cup
- 1 cup whole milk, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh strawberries (about 4 ounces), hulled, halved
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
Line a loaf pan (approximately 9x5x3") with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang on all sides.
Grind pistachios and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer pistachio mixture to a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl; strain, by pressing down on the pistachios with a wooden spoon or spatula. Discard the solids. Stir in almond extract and set pistachio mixture aside.
Place remaining 1/2 cup milk in a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract and chill until ready to use.
Purée strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over another medium bowl; strain, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids. Stir in vanilla extract and set strawberry mixture aside.
Whisk eggs, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Beat egg mixture at high speed until it triples in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 170°F, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue beating until thick and cool, about 3 minutes. Add one-third of egg mixture to each of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla mixtures; fold each just to blend.
Beat cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add one-third of cream to each of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla mixtures; fold each just to blend. Cover vanilla and strawberry mixtures separately; chill. Pour pistachio mixture into pan; smooth top. Cover; freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Gently pour strawberry mixture over pistachio layer; smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.
Gently fold vanilla mixture to blend; pour over and smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Fold plastic wrap over; seal tightly and keep frozen.
To serve, uncover semifreddo. Using plastic wrap as an aid, lift from mold. Invert onto a chilled platter; peel off plastic. Slice crosswise.