Coffee, sourdough & sea salt semifreddo

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A sumptuous combination of flavours in an ice cream dish that’s guaranteed to impress
By Safia Shakarchi

There’s no doubt it’s one of the best things to eat, but ice cream can seem an intimidating thing to make. The stuff you eat in ice cream parlours or scoop shops is churned in a fancy (and pretty expensive) ice cream maker, and for years I avoided attempting my own ice cream for exactly that reason. But the truth is you don’t need a fancy ice cream maker to make frozen sweet treats! Parfaits and semifreddos are lighter, mousse-like frozen desserts that are just as tasty and can easily be made at home.

Earlier this summer, my friend Rav Gill (founder of Countertalk, a community for chefs and others in the hospitality industry) held an event entirely dedicated to ice cream, at which she provided a taster of her coffee and rye parfait. It was so delicious I decided I had to try to make something like it and experiment with similar flavours, so this month’s recipe is inspired by her. My coffee, sourdough and sea salt semifreddo is a great one to make ahead of a barbecue or dinner party. Serve it in chunky slices to your guests with your favourite summer berries.

For the semifreddo
600ml good-quality double cream
75g coffee beans
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
100g golden caster sugar
Flaked sea salt, to sprinkle

For the sourdough crumbs
2 large slices of sourdough bread
Knob of butter, melted
Golden caster sugar, to sprinkle

Berries, to serve (optional)

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Combine 400ml cream with the coffee beans in a jug. Cover and leave to infuse in the fridge for eight to 12 hours, stirring a few times throughout.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Tear your slices of sourdough into very small pieces and toss them together with the melted butter and a sprinkle of sugar. Scatter on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and crisp, then set aside to cool and dry completely (you can do this two to three days in advance).

Strain the infused cream and discard the coffee beans. Weigh the amount of cream you have left and top this up using the remaining cream to make 350ml in total.

Your cream may have already thickened slightly from the acid in the beans, but if it hasn’t then gently whisk to form stiff peaks, taking care not to over-whisk. Put the whipped cream into the refrigerator until ready to use.

Line a 23x13cm or one-litre loaf tin with cling wrap, leaving plenty of overhang to wrap over the top later.

Place the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water. Whisk constantly for about eight minutes until the mixture becomes thick and pale. Remove from the heat and continue whisking for another six to eight minutes to cool the mixture, either by hand or with an electric whisk. When it has cooled to room temperature you should be left with a thick and glossy mixture.

Gently fold the cooled egg mixture into the whipped cream, taking care not to knock too much air out.

Sprinkle some sourdough crumbs and sea salt into the bottom of your prepared loaf tin and pour over half the mixture. Top with more crumbs and sea salt, and repeat with the remaining mixture. Finish with a layer of crumbs and salt.
Cover with the cling film and freeze for at least eight hours. Remove from the freezer and serve in thick slices with extra sourdough crumbs and summer berries (or make a quick compote by bringing your berries to the boil with a splash of water – leave to cool before serving).

This feature appeared in issue 01 of Caffeine magazine Australia

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