Why let all those people with the ice cream machines have all the fun? Full disclosure: we have one and use it quite often. But, it’s entirely possible to make a great ice cream-like treat without an ice cream churn. Simply make semifreddo. In some respects, it might even be better than ice cream, as it’s lighter and more like frozen mousse. Sound good? Let’s scratch out a batch together!
We’re really testing out this recipe for an upcoming event during which we’ll be away from home, and yet want to make a few treats, such as lemon cupcakes and lemon ice cream. The ice cream is out for lack of a churn, so we figured that we’d make semifreddo, instead. We made vanilla and chocolate versions in the past and they turned out great, so we figured that we could make up a lemon version, too.
One thing we’ll point out is that many of the recipes for lemon semifreddo use just egg yolks, leaving you with leftover egg whites; ours uses all the egg.
We pretty much scratched out our version based on our vanilla recipe. Here are our notes in full:
2 cups heavy cream 125 g sugar, divided 1/3 - 1/2 cup lemon juice 3 eggs zest in zab.
Oh, zab is short for zabaglione. Good to go? Great, see you tomorrow!
Just kidding. It’s only because we’ve thought enough about how to make a lemon semifreddo that those notes are sufficient for us.
With so few ingredients, make them count. Use the best cream you can find; we prefer organic since it’s simply heavy cream — no polysorbate 80, no carrageenan, no diglycerides. Though we’re cooking these eggs, we still choose to use eggs from pastured hens. The eggs just taste better. And, of course, vanilla is 100% real. Always. For the lemons, we used Meyer lemons since they’re still coming in around here, but regular lemons will work, too.
Procedure in detail:
Prep pan. Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with two pieces of plastic wrap, one lengthwise and one crosswise. An easy way to do this is to place the pieces of plastic wrap flat on a work surface in the shape of a large plus sign (+), then transfer to the loaf pan and press into place. Set the pan aside for now.
Whip cream. We think the secret to whipping cream is to have everything cold. Very cold. So, place the mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once chilled, pour in the whipped cream and about a third of the sugar. Place the bowl on the mixer and whip, increasing speed to high, until you have whipped cream, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Set up double boiler. Find a saucepan that your mixer bowl will fit into, leaving several inches of space between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the pan. Place about an inch of water in the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. You don’t want the bowl to touch the simmering water, so choose your pan and amount of water carefully.
Clean bowl and attachment. While the water is coming to a simmer, thoroughly clean the bowl and whisk attachment.
Make Swiss meringue. In the clean mixer bowl, whisk together egg whites and about one third of the sugar. Place over simmering water and whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is opaque, about 3 to 4 minutes. If you use a thermometer, the mixture should be around 165°F. Transfer to the stand mixer and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a bowl, and place in the refrigerator until needed.
Clean bowl and attachment. Also, clean the hand whisk.
Make zabaglione. In the mixer bowl, whisk together egg yolks, remaining sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Just as with the Swiss meringue, place over the simmering water and whisk until thickened and a pale yellow. As the egg whites were, the temperature will be around 165°F. Place the bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on high until cool and doubled in volume, about 3-5 minutes.
Fold and fold. Fold the zabaglione into the whipped cream. They’re similar in terms of density, so you can do this in one addition, but feel free to use more. Once the zabaglione is folded in, fold in the egg white mixture. This will be much lighter, so use three additions, and fold until smooth.
Freeze. Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, fold the excess plastic wrap up and over the semifreddo, and freeze for at least 8 hours. To serve, simply unwrap and slice.
Tasty, but it could use a bit more lemon flavor, so make sure to use closer to the half cup level. Even so, it’s a nice light, and lemony treat. It’s a bit of trouble to make, but it really takes about 30-40 minutes from start to the freezer. We’ll say four stars.