Photo by Rikki Snyder
Recipe featured in Naturally, Danny Seo Spring 2021
I don’t know where this sweet dessert has been hiding in my repertoire, but at the present moment I am having a major love affair with semifreddo, the classic Italian dessert that is somewhere between a soft gelato and a semi-frozen mousse. Every so often, I pull out my trusty lidded box of torn magazine pages with recipes I’ve made in the past, and leaf through them for inspiration. An image of a just-melty chocolate semifreddo called out to me, remembering I had made some version of it once at a friend’s request. Never able to follow a recipe, I riffed, added, subtracted, and a few tries later, landed on this creamy, dreamy lavender-tinged dessert that could be dressed up for a dinner party, or served by the slice to kids at your kitchen counter.
This blueberry lavender semifreddo is inspired by one of our popular cake flavors. And heating the egg mixture before whipping is similar to the process we use when making our Swiss Meringue buttercream. One caveat to anyone making this version: a mixer is key. The eggs take quite a while to form soft peaks. You may be able to whip them by hand, but I haven't tried. (I once had to make Swiss Meringue buttercream by hand and it took me 45 minutes!).
Feel free to play around with the flavors. Substitute any type of jam (raspberry, strawberry) or try a curd (lemon, lime). Replace the lavender with an herb like thyme or tarragon, and you could swap in different types of dry, crisp cookies too. You could even try a cookie dough version with this base. Just use the best eggs, cream, and vanilla you can get your hands on and you’re most certainly guaranteed success.
This recipe was featured in the 2021 Spring issue of Naturally, Danny Seo, along with the story of our studio’s opening, which you can read in our Journal.
Photo by Justin Lanier
Blueberry Lavender Semifreddo
Makes one 9x5-in loaf
1-¼ cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
½ cup organic cane sugar
Couple pinches of kosher salt
½ cup blueberry jam
1 tablespoon ground lavender
3 almond biscotti cookies, crushed (about 1 cup)
½ cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
Completely line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with one single piece of plastic wrap so a couple inches overhang on all sides. Set aside.
Put the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until stiff. Fold in the vanilla. Transfer to a separate bowl and refrigerate until needed. Rinse and dry the mixer bowl and in it combine the eggs, sugar, and salt. Place it over a pot of water to create a double boiler and cook over a high simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture is very warm to the touch. Immediately transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, whip until the eggs almost triple in size and create soft peaks. This may take up to 10 minutes or more.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the whipped egg-sugar mixture and, using a spatula, transfer it to the prepared loaf pan. In a small bowl, stir the lavender into the jam, and using a small spoon, evenly drop the jam into the cream-egg mixture. Then using a skewer or fork, create swirls where you dropped the jam. Sprinkle half the crushed biscotti evenly over the loaf, fold the plastic wrap up around the pan (use another piece if needed) and freeze until firm, about 8 hours or overnight.
When it’s time to serve the semifreddo, turn it out onto a platter and remove the plastic (it should be firm but not solid). If the sides of the custard are rippled from the plastic, you can smooth them by dipping a small offset spatula into hot water and running it over the bumps.
Sprinkle the top of the semifreddo with the remaining crushed biscotti. Toss the blueberries with the honey and use for garnish. Slice and serve.