I am slowly becoming familiar with the rhythms of our new home. I no longer wake in the night, wide-eyed in the dark, with a tinge of panic, wondering “where am I”? This is home now, this beautiful place in Northern California. How lucky am I to be living here? The yard is green and full of trees; there are coastal redwoods, oak, maple, birch, and fruit trees. The fragrance of roses, gardenia, and jasmine fills the air. There is something special in every little corner of this yard. It is my own sanctuary, and I am grateful for the beauty of it all. And then there are the markets; the best Farmer’s Markets are just a short drive away. Every weekend we make a visit to one or another of them and marvel at the array of produce, flowers, organic meat, dairy and baked goods.
We are working to nurture the fruit trees we have, hoping to add more as time goes on. I have a peach tree, but the beauties pictured above came from the market. They are organic white peaches, at the peak of perfection. I wanted to use them in a way that would feature their delicious flavor and texture, but it has been too hot for baking. I haven’t replaced the ice cream maker yet (the one that sat in my Wisconsin kitchen for all those years belonged to my neighbor, and I reluctantly returned it to him when we moved). A peach semifreddo seemed the perfect answer. No ice cream maker required, no custard to make; it’s a simple egg, sugar, cream, and peach combo, frozen in a loaf tin.
To serve the semifreddo, let it soften a bit and then unmold it from the pan and slice into servings. If you like, simply scoop it out of the mold. Garnish your frozen dessert with additional sliced peaches and enjoy. Because semifreddo is not churned and has no added stabilizers, the texture can be a little frosty. Don’t keep it in the freezer too long, and try not to re-freeze it more than once. That can encourage the formation of ice crystals and a loss of the creamy texture of the dessert. I added a little peach schnapps to the diced fruit before I folded them into the cream mixture. I think that prevents the fruit from freezing into overly firm nuggets. Add a little schnapps to your sliced peach garnish, and sprinkle on some crumbled cookies for texture (shortbread or gingersnaps would be good).
This is a very adaptable recipe and could be made with other seasonal fruit. Give it a try and you’ll see how easy it is to have the perfect frozen dessert for a hot summer’s evening.
- 1 pound perfectly ripe, but firm, organic peaches, peeled and diced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons peach schnapps
- 1½ cups chilled heavy cream
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract
- ⅔ cup sugar, divided
- Additional sliced peaches and/or crumbled cookies, for garnish
- Sprinkle a standard loaf pan with a few drops of water, then line with plastic wrap, smoothing the wrap as you go. The water will help the plastic cling to the pan. Toss the diced peaches with the peach schnapps in a small bowl, set aside. In a medium bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Transfer to the refrigerator.
- With an electric mixer and a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, vanilla paste, extract and ⅓ cup sugar until pale and fluffy. This will take about three minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
- Wash the bowl and whisk thoroughly. Add the egg whites and beat until frothy. Gradually add ⅓ cup of sugar while beating the whites to stiff peaks.
- Fold together the whipped cream and the egg yolk mixture. Fold the egg whites into the mixture in thirds, adding the diced peaches and their juices toward the end. Try not to deflate the mixture.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap, again smoothing the surface, and bring the overhanging wrap over the top of the pan. Place in the freezer for about 8 hours, or overnight. To serve the semifreddo invert the pan over a serving plate and let stand for a few minutes to soften. Remove the pan and the plastic wrap, slice and serve with your choice of garnishes. You can also scoop the semifreddo directly from the pan as you would ice cream.
See the recipe at the Kitchn, here.