Marsala semifreddo with caramelised nuts & red wine reduction

Marsala semifreddo with caramelised nuts & red wine reduction

By
From
Sicily
Serves
8-10

On the hilltop above Cefalù in the tiny village of Sant’Ambrogio you will find a gem of a restaurant owned by the Zito family. Mimmo, the owner and chef, let me try his latest invention of wild fennel semifreddo. I’m afraid you will have to take my word for the fact it was wonderful – sadly, I was unable to extract the recipe from him as he had just made it up that morning and had no quantities to give me! Instead, we also loved the creamy marsala semifreddo below, with its surprise of caramelised nuts inside and its indulgent, warm red wine sauce.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the semifreddo

Quantity Ingredient
3 eggs, separated
400ml whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
75ml marsala or other sweet wine

For the caramelised nuts

Quantity Ingredient
50g caster sugar
100g whole blanched or unblanched almonds and pistachios

For the sauce

Quantity Ingredient
250ml good red wine
35g caster sugar
2 tablespoons runny honey
1 small strip orange zest

Method

  1. First make the caramelised nuts. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Dissolve the sugar in a small saucepan with the nuts over a medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook until the sugar starts to smell like caramel and deepens in colour. Pour on to the baking parchment and leave to set. Fill the saucepan with hot water straight away to avoid a sticky pan – be careful when doing this as it will spatter and spit. The nuts will set to a brittle toffee and should then be roughly cut with a sharp knife, or you can pop them into a food processor and give them a quick blitz. Ideally, you want them roughly chopped rather than crushed to a sandy texture.
  2. For the semifreddo, line a 22 x 10 cm loaf tin with cling film (plastic wrap). Work quickly through the process of whipping by having everything in bowls in front of you. Beat the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl with an electric whisk until stiff and set aside. Use the same beaters to whisk the cream until it maintains soft peaks. Whip the remaining ingredients together until creamy and well combined, around 5 minutes.
  3. Now, again using the beaters, briefly whisk the two creams together and then add the egg whites. Don’t over-whisk but whisk just enough to combine the mixture. Pour half the mixture into the loaf tin, then add the nuts in a line down the centre so they won’t be seen from the outside (reserve a few for decoration). Cover with the remaining mixture and freeze for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight. When it is frozen, remove from the tin and cover in another layer of cling film.
  4. Make the wine sauce by reducing the ingredients in a pan to roughly a third of the original volume. It will take around 15 minutes to thicken; you can drizzle a few drops on to a cold plate to see how thick and viscous it is when cold (like making jam). When you are happy that it is thick enough, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour into a serving jug.
  5. When ready to serve, peel away the cling film and place the semifreddo on a serving dish. Leave at room temperature for around 10 minutes before slicing and serving scattered with the reserved nuts and the wine sauce on the side.
Tags:
Italy
Italian
Sicily
Sicilian
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