It’s Easter week! Depending on how early or late the holiday falls, it usually means I’m either still buried under blankets and half-hibernated, or I’m throwing open the windows and ushering in spring with open arms. We’ve had some fantastic weather here in Pittsburgh the last few days, which definitely calls for the latter. The appearance of warmth and sunshine also gets me in the mood for light and fresh desserts, and I can think of few things better than a dessert that combines fresh fruit and ice cream.
Semifreddo isn’t technically ice cream; it’s considered more of a frozen mousse, since it’s a combination of custard and whipped cream. However, frozen desserts are frozen desserts, and I can’t wait for my first big frozen custard with sprinkles this year. In the meantime, this dessert totally hit the spot.
A pseudo-custard is whipped until light and thick and then combined with soft whipped cream. Half of the mixture is combined with fresh strawberry puree, while the other half is folded into chopped pistachios.
I absolutely adore the combination of pistachios with fruit, and this frozen dessert highlights both the freshness of the strawberries and the flavor and texture of the pistachios. It really is spring perfection.
If you’re in the market for a light Easter dessert that is still full of flavor, I highly recommend this semifreddo. The best part is, you can make it days ahead of time and stash it in the freezer until you’re ready to serve it!
Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; set aside.
Place the strawberries and 3 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor and puree until smooth, about 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer the puree to a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Stir and press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids.
Whisk together the remaining sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula until the mixture coats the back of the spatula or reaches 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Remove the mixture from the double boiler and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until pale yellow and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the egg mixture, whisking gently until smooth, then fold the mixture into the remaining cream with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated.
Pour half of the cream mixture into the strawberry puree. Gently fold together until thoroughly incorporated, then pour into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Fold the pistachios into the remaining cream mixture and pour evenly over the strawberry layer; smooth the top.
Fold the plastic wrap over the surface and freeze for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. To serve, peel the plastic from the surface and invert the pan onto a serving plate. Unmold the semifreddo, remove the plastic and cut into slices.