Lemon ice cream can be hard to find — Mary Beth Nolan’s lemon semifreddo is a cool, creamy option for people who appreciate yellow citrus after dinner.
“Semifreddo means that it is a half-frozen dessert,” Nolan said. “It’s like an ice cream. But ice cream when it is made is churned. This is a custard, which is a stirred custard. It’s made with egg yolks and lemon juice and then in a separate bowl, you whip the cream. So it never becomes rock solid hard, but it’s a light cream dessert that gives the illusion of ice cream.”
People can skip the churning process that comes with ice cream production.
“It’s much easier to make than an ice cream,” Nolan said. “It tastes like ice cream. It’s light, though. But with the cream in it, it does have a texture like ice cream.”
It cannot be considered a light alternative to most calorie-heavy ice creams.
“With eight egg yolks and a cup of cream, it’s an indulgence,” Nolan said. “But it’s a delicious indulgence. Most desserts are.”
She said people can add different flavors, such as orange or lime. She makes her semifreddo with crumbled cookies, and puts some cookie crumbs on top of the finished slices.
Preparation does take some culinary skill.
“I would caution the cook to approach the eggs with care,” Nolan said, “and not skip the step of simmering over warm water. It’s not boiling water, but warm water. Too high a temperature will curdle the eggs.
“You’re going to separate the eggs and then you’re going to put the sugar, the eggs, the lemon juice and the limoncello in a large metal bowl that goes over a sauce pan of simmering water,” she added. “Don’t let the water touch the bowl.”
Cold air does touch the lemon loaf. At least eight hours of refrigeration is required.
Dessert chefs can serve the creamy slices with almond biscotti. “They can also use a blueberry or a raspberry sauce,” Nolan said.
Nonstick cooking spray
4 ounces Pepperidge Farm Lemon Cookies, crushed (about 22 cookies)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
3⁄4 cup sugar, divided
8 large egg yolks
1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons limoncello
Pinch of salt
2 lemons, zested
1 cup heavy cream
Spray a 9-by-5-by-3-inch metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with plastic wrap and allow about 6 inches of excess wrap to hang over the ends and sides.
Crush the lemon cookies in a food processor or roll with a rolling pin between two pieces of waxed paper. Reserve about 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the slices when serving.
Combine the remaining crushed lemon cookies and melted butter and place the mixture on the bottom of the loaf pan and press the mixture evenly along the bottom of the pan.
Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.
Whisk 1⁄2 cup of the sugar, the egg yolks, lemon juice, limoncello, and salt in a large metal bowl to blend. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water). Stir the mixture with a wire whisk until it thickens and becomes creamy and reaches a temperature of 160 degrees (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set the bowl of custard in the bowl of ice water. Stir in the lemon zest and stir to cool completely.
Place the heavy cream, bowl for whipping and beaters in the freezer for 5 minutes, then beat the heavy cream and remaining 1⁄4 cup of sugar in another large bowl until stiff peaks form.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold 1⁄4 of the whipped cream into the custard and then fold the remaining whipped cream into the mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Fold the overhanging plastic over the mixture to cover and freeze until frozen, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
To serve, unfold the plastic wrap, invert the mixture onto a platter, remove the plastic and cut the semifreddo into 1-inch slices and sprinkle with reserved crushed cookies.