The inspiration of a Cherry Semifreddo goes like this: I recently spent time in New York City and had the great fortune of meeting some of the wonderful people I otherwise only knew on social media. It still seems incredible to me that I can befriend people online, while working alone in my midwestern kitchen.
These folks have been my inspiration, my support and my friends. However, it is even better to spend time with friends in person and that’s just what I did. One of the events I attended in NY gathered several of these folks and I had the opportunity to meet so many more, including Hetty Mckinnon, who writes about family, gatherings and delicious food. It just so happened that her newest book, FAMILY, was about to launch and she invited me to an intimate gathering at her Brooklyn photo studio to celebrate. Her food was EXACTLY how I choose to eat! Although I am not vegetarian, I go for clean, bright, bold flavors, in simple, but exciting preparation that don’t take me all day to make. Since I am baking all day and don’t often have time to cook. At her party she made an olive oil cake that blew my mind, which is in the book and I’d buy a copy just for that recipe.
I made this cherry semifreddo based on her recipe, because I LOVE a semifreddo and it is one of those under appreciated desserts and because we met at the Cherry Bombe Jubilee, so it just felt fitting to celebrate that with a special treat. A semifreddo is a cross between ice cream and mousse, but doesn’t require any special equipment to prepare. The texture is smooth and luxurious when allowed to sit at room temperature until it just on the verge of melting, but still partially cold, hence the name.
Top with some of the remaining cherries, slice the semifreddo and allow it to sit on the plates for 10+ minutes before serving. Add more cherries.
Thank you to Hetty McKinnon and the folks at Prestel books for the lovely copy of Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day!
- 2 lbs (907g) sweet or sour cherries fresh or frozen, pitted
- 1 1/2 cups (340g) superfine sugar divided (see note)
- 3 tbsp cornstarch or starch of your choice
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy whipping cream
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 tsp Pepe Rosa (Pink Peppercorns) optional
Passion Fruit Meringue Topping
- 3/4 cup (190g) egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups (340g) sugar
- 4 tsp passion fruit powder optional
- In a saucepan, cook the cherries until they release their juices (this will take longer with fresh cherries), about 5-10 minutes. Whisk together 1 1/4 cups (285g) sugar and cornstarch, then add it to the cherries, cook for 3 minutes or until the juices are thick and clear. Allow to cool. Puree half the mixture until smooth and refrigerate.
- Whip the heavy whipping cream to soft peaks – don't over whip or they will not blend well into the mixture.
- Whip the egg yolks in a stand mixer, fitted with a whip attachment, until light in color on high speed, about 3 minutes. While they are whipping, heat the milk with the remaining sugar until simmering. Turn down the speed of the mixer to low and slowly drizzle the hot milk into the whipping egg yolks. Turn back to high speed and whip until light, fluffy and cool to the touch.
- Fold the cooled pureed cherries into the egg mixture. Fold the whipped cream into the cherry/egg mixture.
- Pour 1/3 of the mixture into the prepared pan. Add 1/3 cup of the whole cherries to the pan. Add another 1/3 of the semifreddo mixture to the pan and another 1/3 cup fruit over that. Repeat with the remaining semifreddo and 1/3 cup cherries. Cover and freeze for several hours or overnight, until very firm.
- Invert the semifreddo onto a frozen serving tray, return to freezer.
- Once the semifreddo is firm, make the topping. To make the Swiss Meringue: Bring about an inch of water in a saucepan to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir the egg mixture with a rubber spatula until it is hot and all of the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place the bowl onto the stand mixer, fit with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until very think, glossy and stiff peaks when you lift the beater. See my "101 meringue" video on instagram to watch me make the Swiss Meringue. Make sure the meringue is cool to the touch, add the passion fruit powder and beat for another minute.
- Spoon the meringue over the semifreddo and return to the freezer to set for at least an hour before serving.
- Top with some of the remaining cherries, slice the semifreddo and allow it to sit on the plates for 10+ minutes before serving. Add more cherries.