Weeknight Cooking

Bittersweet Chocolate and Orange Semifreddo

August  6, 2012

Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.


When I have dinner parties, I am unnerved by many things. Must I serve an appetizer? Will I overcook my fish? Is there enough wine? What if people start talking about yield curve again?

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But one thing that rarely gives me distress is dessert. I have many, many go-to cakes and confections that I have been making for years, they tend to work well each time. The sins of dessert are often easily disguised with some more frosting or whatnot anyway, and as a bonus: people are often drunk by the time it rolls around and don’t notice the flaws.  

But I was slightly worried when I entertained a woman on a strict gluten free diet (she really is sick, so no, this was not kowtowing to a food trend, people). After much consideration, the baking of a lovely flour-free cookie and more thinking, I decided I would try my hand at this semifreddo

Even though I have an ice cream maker, I am a huge fan of this frozen dessert. Semifreddos are easy, they have a deep richness married to an airy texture that ice cream sometimes lacks, and look very impressive.

I suggest when you make this you turn  it out on a beautiful plate somewhat ostentatiously, kind of like, “Oh this old thing, I just whipped it up this morning, no big!” when actually you will have put it together the night before your party, just to keep your life easy. 

So first you’re whipping up those egg yolks until they are nice and frothy, as Joanne Chang instructs. Then you make your caramel, which is fun, because you get to drop some on water and make those little balls that let you know it’s ready – about five minutes, during which you can also melt your chocolate. Next you add your cocoa powder and salt to the bowl. It’s looking delicious already right? Control yourself. 

Take your hand mixer and whip up that cream and fold in the orange zest and fold it into the melted chocolate, then layer that with the whipped up stuff you just made in your bread pan, as instructed It’s not totally pretty, but you can tell from nibbling at the edges it’s going to be great. Put it in the freezer and go to bed. Or work. Or work in bed. 

Roughly 8 hours later, dessert is ready to serve your guests. There is a delicious orange taste -- Kristen said it is sort of like those chocolate orange candies you had to crack to get open -- and this wonderful surprise of chocolate bark in every other bite. 

I promise everyone will be deeply impressed with your 20 minutes of work. Unless of course you and your husband stand in the kitchen in the dark in your pajamas eating it from the container with two spoons until you both have vague stomach aches and the desire to go upstairs and watch the Daily Show. Then it won’t work out so well for your guests. 

Bittersweet Chocolate and Orange Semifreddo by Joanne Chang

Serves 8

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons orange zest
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.




Photo by James Ransom

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


mcs3000 August 9, 2012
I liked "cow towing" - even if it's not correct.
fearlessem August 7, 2012
Just as a heads up, in the third paragraph, its not "cow towing" but "kowtowing" (as in the Chinese act of respect made by kneeling and bowing with head touching the ground)...
Kristen M. August 7, 2012
Fixed -- thank you!
mcs3000 August 7, 2012