This Blood Orange Creamsicle Semifreddo was inspired by one of my first pastry mentors, Claudia Flemming. Her book, The Last Course, was a collection of desserts she created for the venerable restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, in New York. It is an understatement to say her book was a steady guide to me when I was a pastry chef, fresh out of culinary school and trying to find my voice as a chef. She was combining flavors in ways that no one else was doing at the time. She used herbs in desserts and she had an exquisite balance of sweetness, sour, bitter, and salty. Her palate was informed by the savory side of the kitchen and it made all of her desserts profoundly more interesting and exciting to me. My copy of her book was written in, dog eared and splattered with cake batter, the truest sign of respect to a cookbook and its author. That seminal book went out of print for a while, but there was a cult following that just never let it be forgotten. So, when her publisher decided to celebrate it with another printing, I was thrilled. Other than the cover there are no changes to the book and it didn’t need any, that’s how good it was and is. The desserts still hold up nearly a decade later and I was just as excited by the Frozen Orange-Blossom Honey Mousse today as I was the first time I made it in 2001. I topped it with Blood Orange Sorbet to create my idea of the perfect creamsicle and then topped it with a Rosemary and Orange Meringue. I think Claudia would approve of the combination.
You will find my Instagram video tutorial on how to make this dessert.
Find the recipe below…
Blood Orange Creamsicle Semifreddo
Inspired by Claudia Flemming’s book, The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern from Random House*
Blood Orange Sorbet from The Last Course
1 1/2 cups strained blood-orange juice
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
Frozen Orange-Blossom Honey Mousse from The Last Course
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup creme fraiche
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon orange-flower water (use an extra 1/2 teaspoon if you don’t have orange-blossom honey)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons orange-blossom honey
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon sugar
3 large egg whites
Rosemary and Orange Meringue by Zoë
1 cup egg whites
2 cups (400g) sugar
3 to 4 long sprigs fresh rosemary
Zest 1 large orange
To make Semifreddo:
Prepare a Pullman Loaf Pan, 9 x 4-Inch with Parchment paper. Place in the freezer. Also freeze the serving platter.
These can also be made in eight 6-ounce molds to make individual desserts.
To make the sorbet:
Blend all of the ingredients, adding enough simple syrup so the egg floats, refrigerate until cold and freeze as directed here.
Once the sorbet is frozen, spoon it into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap the pan several times to make sure it is settled into the pan evenly. Freeze for at least an hour before layering on the mousse.
To make the Frozen Mousse:
Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the heavy cream, creme fraiche, Grand Marnier, and orange blossom water until the mixture holds soft peaks. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey, corn syrup, and sugar. Cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 248°F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, when the sugar reaches 238°F, in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whip attachment, whip the egg whites until they hold medium peaks. When the honey syrup reaches 248°F, reduce the speed of the mixer to low and drizzle the hot syrup into the whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and whip until the mixture is cool, about 5 minutes.
Fold 1/3 of the cream into the egg whites. Fold the remaining whipped cream into the whites.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, over the sorbet. Tap the pan gently on the counter to make sure the mousse is even. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top flat. Freeze for at least 6 hours.
To Assemble the Semifreddo:
Invert the sorbet/mousse onto a frozen serving dish. Return to the freezer while you make the meringue.
To make the Meringue:
Bring about an inch of water in a saucepan to a simmer. Combine the egg whites, sugar, salt and rosemary in the metal 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, strain the rosemary out, return the egg mixture to the bowl and place it onto the stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until very thick, glossy, stiff peaks when you lift the beater, and cool to the touch, about 10 minutes. See my “101 meringue” video on instagram to watch me make the Swiss Meringue. Fold in the orange zest.
Spoon the meringue over the Blood Orange Sorbet Layer and create peaks. Freeze for at least an hour before serving. Just before serving Blow Torch the meringue.
Cut the dessert with a thin bladed knife dipped in hot water.
*Thank you to Claudia Flemming and Random House for sending me The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.