Paleo dessert recipe: Christmas fruit and nut semifreddo with coconut cream

Paleo Christmas: Finish with Pete Evans' fruit and nut semifreddo.
Paleo Christmas: Finish with Pete Evans' fruit and nut semifreddo. Photo: William Meppem
Dietary
Paleo

Paleo desserts can be tricky with the no-dairy clause... But try this light and delicious semifreddo from chef Pete Evans. It's the perfect punctuation to a Christmas feast or any summery spread. You will need to start this recipe two days ahead and can be made up to four days ahead (keep frozen).

Ingredients

4 free-range eggs 

100g honey  

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod discarded, or ¼ tsp dried vanilla powder 

finely grated zest of ½ orange

⅛ tsp ground cinnamon 

⅛ tsp ground ginger

1 pinch ground cloves

1 pinch grated nutmeg 

500g whipped coconut cream (see below)

200g fresh cherries, pitted and chopped 

80g raisins, chopped 

80g whole natural almonds (activated if possible), roasted, coarsely chopped

almond praline (optional) (see below), to serve

fresh red currants (optional), to serve 

For whipped coconut cream  (Makes 700ml)

3 x 400ml cans coconut cream 

1 tbsp honey, or to taste  

For almond praline

200g whole natural almonds 

120g honey

1 tsp olive oil or macadamia oil  

Method

1. Grease a 6cm deep, 19cm x 9cm loaf tin. Line tin with baking paper, allowing a 5cm overhang on both long sides. 

2. Place the eggs, honey, vanilla seeds or powder, orange zest and spices into a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. (The water should not touch the base of the bowl.) Whisk the egg mixture with electric beaters or balloon whisk until pale and thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly for two minutes.

3. Pour the whipped coconut cream into the egg mixture, followed by the cherries, raisins and almonds and gently fold through to combine.  

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the top with a palette knife.  Cover and freeze overnight or until firm. 

5. Remove the semi-freddo from the freezer and allow to stand at room temperature for five minutes before turning out. Peel away the baking paper and cut into thick slices. Arrange the semi-freddo slices on a large platter or individual serving plates, then sprinkle with some almond praline, and decorate with fresh currants. 

Tip: If you find the egg mixture curdles during the cooking process in step 2 or even after cooking, simply place the egg mixture in a blender and blend until smooth; this will help smooth out the lumps and bring back the mixture to a smooth consistency. 

For whipped coconut cream 

1. Place the unopened cans of coconut cream upright in a stainless steel bowl and refrigerate overnight. 

2. Without shaking or disturbing the cans, open the cans of chilled coconut cream. Scoop out the thick cream layer and place in the chilled bowl with the honey. Store the thin leftover coconut cream in a sealed container in the fridge for another use. 

3. Use an electric mixer to whip the coconut cream and honey on high speed until soft peaks form, about three minutes. Refrigerate for 40 minutes or until set.

For almond praline

1. Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Scatter the almonds in a single layer on the tray and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden. Leave to cool. 

3. Place the honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the boil and let it bubble away until it reaches 130C on a sugar thermometer. Stir frequently as the honey has a tendency to burn. Add the almonds and olive oil and mix well. Pour the honey-coated almonds back onto the lined baking tray. Spread them out into a single layer and allow to cool completely. 

4. Once cool, break into large pieces and process in a food processor using the pulse button to coarse crumbs.