A couple of weeks ago, my ice cream machine broke. Having poured a simple peanut butter custard into the turning bowls, I sat back to watch it churn into the soft, smooth, scoopable consistency I have learned to expect. The mechanism whirred unreasonably loudly, plastic paddles slapped pathetically against the sides and forty minutes later my ice cream attempt was in as liquid a state as when it started.
With work, holidays and everything in between, it’s taken some time to get it off to the manufacturer for (a luckily within warrantee) repair. Last Friday I finished up early, packed the two-bowled beast into a large cardboard box and headed off to the post office in the afternoon heat. After a twenty minute walk and twice as long waiting, I was told I’d taken it to the wrong place. No ice cream for me that day (but at least I gave myself a good arm workout).
This week, with the broken machine finally dispatched to meet its maker, the lack of ice cream in my life has suddenly become too much. Like a runner who faints just before the finishing line, I can’t quite wait those final few moments until the machine is back in my life. The weather has finally got warm, there’s an abundance of gorgeous fruit around and I couldn’t wait any longer to make some sort of frozen dessert.
Real ice cream without a machine just isn’t as good. Some people may disagree with me and yes, you can make a passable version by freezing, stirring, freezing and repeating to break up the worst of the ice crystals, but the texture is never going to be perfect, to deliver that smooth, melting mouthfeel of a really good ice.
Sorbet is a second option, but I was craving something richer, and while I know a lot of people make very good no-churn ice creams involving a base of condensed milk, I wanted something a little more pure, less sweet, more natural. Something where the flavour of fresh fruit shone through. As you can see, I wasn’t being particular at all . . .
Semifreddo was the answer. A recipe in its own right rather than an ice cream imitation, this frozen treat is smooth, soft, creamy and everything you could want from a refreshing summer dessert. Made light with whipped egg whites, creamy with their yolks and packed with fresh fruit and very little sugar, it’s simple, refreshing and absolutely what I wanted.
We’ve been eating a lot of peaches and nectarines this summer. On the weekend I bought about a dozen, and while the majority never made it further than the journey between fruit bowl and my mouth, I had enough beautiful white-fleshed nectarines to make this semifreddo.
The fruit is blitzed, skin and all, with a little lemon juice and the most sparing sprinkle of sugar before being mixed with egg yolks and a little more sugar. A cloud of whipped egg white is folded through along with a generous glug of thick greek yoghurt. Because of the yoghurt, the final texture is slightly icy rather than the smooth effect you get with whipped cream, but in this instance I was happy to compromise and take the hit in return for the acidic tang of yoghurt against the sweet, bright nectarines. If you’re keen on a smoother texture, by all means substitute the same quantity of whipped cream.
We ate this as a mid-week dessert, sliced in slabs on simple plates, hence the lack of fancy photos, drizzled coulis etc. It could easily be tarted up if you wanted, but I think this sweet is at its best in its purest form, a super simple palate-cleansing mouthful after a mid-week meal.
White Nectarine Frozen Yoghurt Semifreddo
(serves approx. 10 people)
3 small ripe white nectarines (peaches will do), chopped
Juice of half a small lemon
80g sugar, divided
½ tsp vanilla extract
200ml creamy Greek yoghurt (full fat is best)
3 medium free range eggs, divided
Line a medium sized loaf tin (or smaller, individual moulds if you prefer) with cling film.
In a blender, blitz the chopped peaches, lemon juice and 40g of sugar. Stir in the vanilla extract and Greek yoghurt until smooth and combined.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Gently fold the egg yolks into the peach and yoghurt mixture.
In a separate large bowl, whip the egg whites and remaining 40g sugar until thick and creamy. Gently fold one third of the egg whites into your peach base to loosen the mixture, then fold in the rest, taking care not to knock out too many air bubbles.
Spoon the mixture into your prepared containers and freeze for eight hours, or overnight. Serve in slices. Add a little coulis, summer berries or stone fruit, if you like.