This creamy frozen dessert is a favorite on trattoria menus in Florence and Pisa. It's also incredibly simple to make at home. The Italian meringue base (which I made with the great instruction of Emma from Poires au Chocolat) makes it essentially like a frozen mousse. —Emiko
First make an 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 to soft peaks. When the syrup reaches 250º F (120º C), pour the sugar syrup immediately down the side of the bowl into the egg whites and continue whipping them 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).
Gently fold the whipped cream and pine nuts through the Italian meringue.
Pour the mixture into a loaf tin lined with plastic wrap and freeze for at least five hours or until firm. (Note: The semifreddo won't be rock solid; it will still be quite soft and fluffy, but you'll want to be able to unmold and slice it.)
For the chocolate sauce: Heat the cream in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water (a double boiler). When it's hot, stir in the chopped chocolate, then take it immediately off the heat. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth.
Serve mattonella in slices drizzled with chocolate sauce.
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.