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Mascarpone Semifreddo with Berries, Figs, & Honey

June 2018
Few things are more refreshing than semifreddo, ice cream that needs no churn. McCrady’s pastry chef Katy Keefe freezes hers on a cinnamon crust and finishes it with a shower of summer fruit
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For the cinnamon crust:

7 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the mascarpone semifreddo:

8 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. mascarpone
4 eggs, separated into whites and yolks
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

To complete:

3 pints berries
24 figs, halved
Baby basil or shiso leaves or flowers, optional Local honey


For the cinnamon crust:

Preheat oven to 300°F.

Combine four ounces of the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream them together until light and fluffy, about four minutes. Add the two flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a 9- by 13-inch nonstick baking pan and spread it out evenly.

Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan, transfer to a food processor, and pulse into equal-size crumbs. The crust must be cool, otherwise the crumbs will stick together and become gummy. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep for up to one week.

Increase oven heat to 325°F.

Melt the remaining butter. Combine it in a bowl with the cinnamon crumbs and sugar and stir together. Transfer the mixture back to the baking pan and spread it out evenly. Use a small offset spatula to flatten the crust. You want it to be compact so that it will cut well. Bake the crust for 25 minutes, or until you see it bubbling slightly all over. Cool the crust to room temperature, wrap, and freeze. Wrapped, it will keep for up to one month in the freezer.

For the mascarpone semifreddo:

Prepare a double boiler by selecting a saucepan that will hold the bowl of a stand mixer over simmering water. Fill it with enough water to simmer below the bowl, but not touch it. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

Combine the cream and mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment and whip them on high speed until stiff peaks form, about one minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Without cleaning the first bowl, combine the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in it. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the yolks are very warm to the touch. Return the bowl to the stand mixer and whip the mixture until it falls slowly, forming a ribbon when the whisk is lifted, and is cooled down slightly, about three minutes. Remove the mixture from the bowl and set aside.

Quickly wash and dry the bowl; there can be no fat residue left in it. Place the egg whites in the bowl and whip until foamy. Add the brown sugar and remaining two tablespoons of granulated sugar and whip until medium peaks form, about five minutes. Fold the two egg mixtures together with a rubber spatula, taking care not to deflate the whites. Gently fold in the mascarpone mixture, pour it over the frozen crust, spread it out evenly, cover, and freeze it overnight. Wrapped, it will keep for up to one month in the freezer.

After freezing fully, the semifreddo is ready to cut. Using a paring knife dipped in warm water, cut it into 12 (21/2-inch) squares, and return to the freezer.

When ready to serve, top each square with some berries and figs. Add herbs and flowers, if using. Drizzle with honey.

CHEF’S NOTE: You can make the semifreddo up to a month in advance for use with any combination of stone fruits or berries.