This semifreddo is inspired by the delicious combination of chocolate and hazelnut that the Piedmont region is so well known for. Because of the ground hazelnuts and melted chocolate, the semifreddo holds its shape really well, remaining sliceable for quite some time after removing it from the freezer. For extra flavor, feel free to drizzle it with some chocolate sauce and garnish it with chopped, toasted hazelnuts. —Emiko
8 to 10
(100 grams) whole raw hazelnuts
1 3/4 cups
(400 milliliters or 13 1/2 ounces) heavy cream
Toast hazelnuts in the oven at 350º F (180º C) for 10 minutes or until warm. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle, remove skins by rubbing the hazelnuts in an old tea towel. This will usually remove most of the skin -- don't worry if some of it still remains. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until they are fine like sand. Set aside.
Heat chocolate and cream together over a double boiler until the chocolate has melted; stir often. Add the ground hazelnuts and combine. Let the mixture cool, then chill it in the refrigerator until needed.
While the chocolate is cooling, prepare the Italian meringue. Make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan and heating it to about 220º F (105º C). Meanwhile, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. When the syrup reaches 250º F (120º C), pour it immediately down the side of the bowl into the egg whites and continue whipping to stiff peaks. Whip until the bowl feels cool to the touch and the mixture is fluffy and thick, usually 7 minutes (but it can take between 6 and 10 minutes).
Whip the chilled chocolate and cream mixture until fluffy and fold it carefully through the meringue.
Place the mixture in a loaf tin lined with plastic wrap and freeze at least three hours, or until firm. Remove from the freezer about 15 minutes before serving to let it soften slightly before slicing it with a sharp knife dipped in warm water.
The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.