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Valentine’s Day treat (and the search for ingredients)

15 Mar

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything, as I’ve been trying to direct my writing to getting work-related writing done instead of food-related writing. But since the drafts are almost done, and I’m waiting for some feedback, I’ve decided to start catching up on some baking posts!

Well, first off I decided to make a Valentine’s Day treat for my partner and me. It started out with smoked salmon and caviar blinis, followed by a delicious cheese fondue. For dessert, I decided to make a pistachio and chocolate semifreddo. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Semifreddo is Italian for semi-frozen and it’s practically like a partially frozen mousse. I did my research, found two different places to get the key ingredient (pistachio paste), and trekked into London to pick it up. Unfortunately it turns out that it was a common ingredient for Valentine’s Day as everyone seemed to run out of it right before the big holidays. Frustrated, I bought some almond cream instead, and I decided that I would make almond and chocolate semifreddo instead.

I also decided to use my new cube-shaped silicon molds. I bought them for a pasta experiment gone wrong, but I still had them, and I decided to put them to good use. So I layered the almond semifreddo at the bottom of the molds and put the chocolate on top. A few cacao nibs from my cacao nib adventures, and I had a delicious dessert. However, I thought that maybe that wouldn’t be quite enough, so I decided to put them on a brownie base. I went to Smitten Kitchen to find a delicious brownie recipe (although I do have several at home, so I’m not exactly sure why I did this, except her recipes are usually amazing), and I opted to go for an easy brownie using cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate, just for ease of making during the week. I also added toasted almond flakes to tie it in to the almond semifreddo.

Was it delicious? Yes it was. We ate it during the entire week (as there were eight cubes of semifreddo). Surprisingly, the semifreddo was quite hard as I made it in advance (which made it really easy to pull out of the molds and plate up), but when I left it out for half an hour, it was soft and delicate. Well at least the almond was, the chocolate was a bit denser then I would have liked, meaning I probably added too much cream or something, but the flavor was really nice. Overall, I would definitely do a semifreddo again as it was incredibly easy to do up in advance and molds quite well to a shape, but yet is soft and delicate when allowed to defrost a bit.

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Oh I almost forgot. When I served it on Valentine’s Day I didn’t have any sort of sauce or anything. Not that it needed sauce, but you feel like some sort of sauce could just liven things up a bit. Well, when I was on my failed pistachio paste search, I did run across the Italian ingredient saba. Basically it’s the must of grape juice that is kind of a precursor in wine making. It’s boiled down until it’s very thick, almost as thick as a balsamic glaze. Some sources say it’s also was used similarly to balsamic vinegar before there was such a thing. Mine was labeled as being quince must, and it turns out that some brands of saba are fortified with quince as well. Anyway, it tastes heavenly. It made quite a nice addiction to the chocolate flavors of the dish. (As a side note, I also mixed some of the saba with some fig vinegar and smoked paprika as a sauce for some pan fried duck breast I made for dinner, and it was amazing. The bottle says it can be used with meats as well, and it sure can!) If you can pick up this ingredient, I highly recommend it, and I plan on finding out new uses for it as time goes on. One advantage about living overseas is the ability to find these specialty ingredients that you’ve never heard of before, even if it can be very impossible to find the ones I’m used to!

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Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Frozen desserts

 

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