Salted Caramel with Praline Semifreddo.
Salted caramel with praline semifreddo. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

With summer, my thoughts turn to cool and easy desserts.

The brief at this time is no fuss; something I can prepare in advance that will still look and taste fresh on the day.

These are just the ticket. No fussing with an ice-cream maker, all you need is an electric mixer with two bowls, or a separate hand mixer for whipping cream.

Coconut, pineapple and basil semifreddo.
Coconut, pineapple and basil semifreddo. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

You can freeze the leftover egg whites in an airtight container. To track frozen egg whites, place a piece of masking tape on the lid and record the date. Thaw completely to use in meringue or coconut roughs (below).

Here are some favourite semifreddo recipes.

Debbie Skelton is a Canberra food writer.


Berry maple semifreddo

500g raspberries, frozen thawed, or fresh

250g caster sugar

8 egg yolks

600ml pure cream

100g maple syrup

Combine the raspberries and 50 grams of the sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook gently for four minutes until the berries just begin to soften and the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool and then refrigerate until cool.

Whisk the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed for five minutes, until creamy, light and fluffy.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat for five minutes until it is just beginning to darken and the sugar has dissolved. Mix with a silicone spatula, gently scraping the bottom and edges and mix any lumps back into the centre. Any lumps will eventually melt. Work fast to stop the sugar from burning.

While the yolks are still whisking, pour the sugar liquid into the egg yolks in a thin, steady stream with the mixer on moderate speed, so as not to cook the yolks. Continue whisking until completely cool.

Whip the cream in a separate bowl to form stiff peaks. Fold in the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the chilled raspberry mixture.

Pour into a two-litre loaf tin lined with plastic wrap so the ends and sides of the plastic wrap hang outside (to provide a handle for later removal). Stir in the maple syrup gently to create a marbled effect. Cover with the overhang of plastic wrap and freeze for five hours, until firm.

Remove by grabbing the plastic wrap, lifting from the tin and turn out onto a serving plate.


Coconut roughs

125g unsalted butter

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla paste

120 plain flour

120g castor sugar

80g shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 200C. Mix the butter, egg whites and vanilla in a bowl, then fold in the flour and sugar. Beat until smooth. Spread teaspoonfuls on baking paper-lined oven trays. Spread each spoonful to about one-millimetre thickness in random elongated shapes.

Bake for five minutes until golden; keep an eye out for burning. Leave to cool and harden. Serve with semifreddo or ice cream.

 

Salted-caramel semifreddo

Praline

150g caster sugar

¾ tsp sea salt

Caramel

100g caster sugar

50ml water

50g salted butter, chopped

1 tsp sea salt

150ml pure cream, slightly

warmed

6 egg yolks

50g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

350ml pure cream

For the praline, pour the sugar in an even layer in a heavy-based saucepan. Line a baking tray with baking paper that has been lightly greased with vegetable oil. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat for five minutes until it is just beginning to darken and the sugar has dissolved. Mix with a silicone spatula, gently scraping the bottom and edges and mix any lumps back into the centre. Any lumps will eventually melt. Work fast to stop the praline from burning and immediately mix in the salt. Quickly pour the mixture on a baking tray, swirling and tilting the praline so it spreads thinly over the tray. Set aside to cool and set.

Crush the set praline into small chunks and place in a plastic bag. Bash with a rolling pin to crush further. Set aside.

Combine the 100 grams of sugar and 50 millilitres of water in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Brush the sugar from the sides with a wet pastry brush, then cook without stirring until it is a deep amber colour. This will take about eight to 10 minutes. Add the butter and salt and stir to combine. Add the cream and stir until mixed. If sugar crystals form when you add the cream, return the pan to a low heat for one or two minutes, then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, the 50 grams of sugar and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed for five minutes until creamy, light and fluffy. While the yolks are still whisking, pour the hot caramel mixture into the egg yolks in a thin, steady stream with the mixer on moderate speed, so as not to cook the yolks. Whisk until the egg yolk mixture cools and refrigerate until completely cold.

When the yolk mixture has completely cooled, whip the cream until soft peaks form and gently fold the cream and the crushed praline into the cooled yolk mixture. Pour into a two-litre loaf tin lined with plastic wrap so the ends and sides of the wrap hang outside to provide a handle for later removal.

Cover with the overhang of plastic wrap and freeze for five hours. Remove by grabbing the plastic wrap, lifting from the tin and turn out on to a plate.


Coconut, pineapple and basil semifreddo

1 cup castor sugar

½ cup pineapple juice

6 egg yolks

1 cup coconut cream

1 cup of pure cream

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

½ cup fresh pineapple, finely chopped and extra to serve

2 tbsp fresh Thai basil leaves, finely chopped

Heat the sugar and pineapple juice in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Whisk the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer on high speed for five minutes until creamy, light and fluffy. While whisking, pour the hot sugar and pineapple liquid into the egg yolks in a thin, steady stream, with the mixer on moderate speed. Whisk until completely cool. The mixture will gradually thicken and go pale and creamy.

Whip the coconut cream and pure cream together until soft peaks form and gently fold through the egg-yolk mixture along with the coconut, pineapple and basil.

Pour into a two-litre loaf tin lined with plastic wrap so the ends and sides of the wrap hang outside to provide a handle for removal later. Cover with the overhang of plastic wrap and freeze for five hours until firm. Remove by grabbing the plastic wrap, lifting from the tin and turn out onto a serving plate. Serve with fresh pineapple.