Are you tired of pumpkin yet?
I’m totes not…but, maybe we need a teensy break. Besides, fall has other stars! Pink ones even, like the tart and native-North-American-beauty, the cranberry. In my head I’m saying “cran-brerry,” in case you wanted to know. Anyway, cranberries shouldn’t just be relegated to side dish status. They are tart, a little bitter, and have the prettiest jewel-toned hue.
I’m a big fan of semifreddo, it’s a lot like ice cream–but it isn’t. It’s a little less fussy, since you don’t have to bust out a machine to churn it, but still manages to maintain a light-yet-rich character. The deep fuchsia cranberry puree turns the best shade of pink when folded into the semifreddo base–no dyes up in here. A little vanilla and some bourbon bring warmth to the bittersweet tang of the cranberry, while whipped cream and egg yolks bring creamy lushness. Even though it’s a pretty easy recipe, this dessert certainly feels fancy and would be a perfect make-a-head treat to round out a fall or holiday gathering.
Cranberry Semifreddo Cups
Adapted from this recipe.
You could use another fruit puree if you aren’t feeling, or can’t find, cranberries. Any tart, red fruit would be a nice substitute. You can also serve this semifreddo in scoops or smooth it into a loaf pan before freezing and slice once frozen (like this). I garnished these cups with lightly sweetened whipped cream and some chocolate vermicelli sprinkles. I happen to like tart cranberry with chocolate, but if you aren’t a fan, these are lovely unadorned as well. The recipe below produces more cranberry puree than needed–use it to serve these semifreddo cups or save for another use.
12 ounces cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons mild honey
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons bourbon (optional)
In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, 2/3 cup sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat until cranberries burst and release their juices and the mixture starts to thicken. Press the cranberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discard skins and seeds. You will have around 2 cups of cranberry puree. Set aside to cool.
Create an ice bath and set aside.
Fashion a double boiler out of a bowl and a pot with a bit of simmering water in it–place a dampened paper towel on the underside of the bowl, making sure it is just larger than the pot below, to avoid slipping while whisking. This way you are able to whisk without steadying the bowl with your other hand.
Place the honey, remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and egg yolks in the bowl. Whisk over the simmering pan of water until the yolk mixture gains some volume, becomes pale in color, and the whisk is just beginning to leave tracks in the mixture. Slowly drizzle in the vanilla and bourbon–whisking the whole time. Continue to whisk the yolk mixture over the simmering water until thickened and the whisk leaves clear, visible tracks in the yolk mixture. Remove the bowl from over the pot of water and whisk over an ice bath until cooled. Gently fold about 1-1 1/3 cups of the cranberry puree into the yolk mixture.
In a clean bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Fold in 1/3 of the cream mixture into the cooled yolk and cranberry mixture. Once combined, repeat with the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the semifreddo mix into cups, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for several hours until very firm. Serve cold with desired garnishes.