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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, January 27, 2006

SHF: Honey & pinenut semifreddo

Wow, three recipes from Forever Summer in as many days. I guess it's the right season for it. This one came about because I had seen the theme for this month's Sugar High Friday, which is "Sugar Low Friday". In consideration of the excesses of the recent holiday season, the challenge is to make a sweet recipe but to be a bit more frugal with the fat and the sugar. In fact, try not to use any processed sugar at all, but look to natural unprocessed products like fruits and syrups, or experiment with sugar substitutes.

In fact, Sam asked for feedback on what it's like to cook with these sugar-low products like Splenda, and I can provide that because when I was on a serious low-carb diet a few years back I tried making many of the substitute recipes you find on those crazy zealot-dieter websites, including one for some peanut cookies made with Splenda. They weren't actually too bad, you know, but they had strange, somewhat crumbly texture and an rather unnatural aftertaste, which is difficult to describe. I'm sitting here playing with words and I still can't come up with anything more than "unnatural" and, perhaps, "chemical". They smelled funny too. Hmmmm. Also, I don't know about anywhere else, but in Australia Splenda is pretty expensive, and pouring out a cup or so felt like a pretty frivolous thing to do. At a pinch I ate them and enjoyed the experience, but they were just not a patch on cookies made with real sugar.

I didn't think I'd have a chance to make anything for this SHF installment, but when geting my chocolate pavlova recipe I noticed this honey semifreddo in the icecream chapter - a chapter I'd always pretty much ignored cos I don't have an icecream maker - but this recipe doesn't require one. It also doesn't require any sugar. Double bonus! It uses honey as its sweetener, and very effective it is too. However, whilst this recipe may be low in processed sugar, low in fat it certainly aint. This baby contains 5 eggs and a whole pot of cream. Sorry.... :-( But, hey, no sugar...... :-)
It's an absolute doddle to make - just whip cream, and mix honey and eggs together, and throw it in the freezer. The taste is extremely rich, and I (yes, even I) recommend small portions, which is very unlike me. It's also a showcase for good honey, and I had the perfect stuff for the occasion, in my unrefined stuff I get from the uni market. The pinenuts on top add a real interest, and I think they're an essential component to the dish. The intensity of the honey flavour needs something to break it up, and the pinenuts do that really well. A dead easy dessert that tastes like something that took hours to make.
Read on for the recipe:

Honey Semifreddo
from Forever Summer, Nigella Lawson.


1 egg
4 egg yolks
100g best-quality honey, plus 3 tablespoons or so for serving
300ml double cream
25g pine nuts, toasted

-Line a 900g/1 litre load tin with clingfilm or greased aluminium foil

-Beat the egg and egg yolks with the honey in a bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water (or just use a very heavy saucepan like a Le Creuset) until mixture is pale and thick. You can use a balloon whisk if you want a workout, but using an electric beater will be much easier.

-Whip the double cream until thick, and then gently fold in the egg and honey mixture. Pour into the prepared loaf tin, and cover with clingfilm before putting it in the freezer for about 2-3 hours.

-When it is ready to serve, turn out the semifreddo and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts before slicing. It thaws quickly as it stands, so be careful.

Serves 6-8

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  • Looks beautiful, yummy and very decadant Niki!

    I tried making some brownies with Splenda for a diabetic friend and I thought they were awful. She was pretty disappointed too - what she really wanted were my chocolate pecan bars (which I fear may have pushed her over the line in the first place!).

    By Blogger Cathy, at 1/28/2006 03:05:00 pm  

  • Yum, this looks absolutey wonderful! I'll have to try it if I can find honey good enough! (And I'm so envious of your summer.. it's frozen-slush-season here.)

    By Blogger Anne, at 1/28/2006 07:16:00 pm  

  • Delicious looking, Niki. If only it wasn't winter here....

    By Blogger Nic, at 1/29/2006 01:43:00 am  

  • Divine. Absolutely divine. And I used to ignore a lot of dessert recipes because I don't have an ice cream maker too. This is right up my alley! Thanks!

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 1/29/2006 03:03:00 am  

  • oh dear... this is so unfair! we don't get nearly enough sunshine and you talk about semi-freddos? more like full-freddos in london where we're freezing our butts off at the moment! hope you're well...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/29/2006 11:26:00 am  

  • I made semifreddo once at cooking school with chestnut honey - have you ever tried it - it has a very bizarre and unique flavour. this looks great - and i am mad for pinenuts. I should have tried my own semi freddo recipe with cream instead of yoghurt and then I am sure it would have tated so much better.


    By Blogger Sam, at 1/29/2006 03:14:00 pm  

  • I think i might be the only one to be able to eat ice cream during winter. Actually as you noticed i made the same recipe and ended up ny eating one small semifreddo.
    Shame on me...

    By Blogger *fanny*, at 1/29/2006 06:07:00 pm  

  • Cathy - With a future that may well contain diabetes, I shudder to think of baked goods filled with fake sugar. I only hope that something better will have been invented by then. Drugs??

    Anne - This could be made with supermarket honey, but is probably better with the good stuff. You wouldn't be envious of our summer if you were here today. Grey, sticky, humid and totally revolting. I'd much rather be in the northern hemisphere winter!

    Nic - But I want to be in winter! Although the stone fruit and berries are really good here at the moment...

    MM - there's also a good lemon "icecream" in Nigella's books. I made it a few months ago, using lime and basil instead, and it's also a great, quick icecream recipe.

    Johanna - Thanks! Am well, but sick to death of this sticky heat. I'd actually give anything to be in full-freddo mode again...

    Sam - Ahh, but the it wouldn't have been low-fat, would it? There's the trade off. :-) I haven't tried chestnut honey, but I've heard mixed reports about its flavour. I'd like to give it a go and see what I think.

    Fanny - I'm doing a pretty good job of eating my way through all of mine too. It also tastes good when you pour an espresso coffee over the top. Sort of like an affogato. Mmmm!

    By Blogger Niki, at 1/29/2006 11:13:00 pm  

  • Talk about food porn! What a great photo. I could just dip my spoon right into it...

    By Blogger Elise, at 1/30/2006 12:34:00 pm  

  • chestnut honey is definitely funky
    an acquired taste
    it haunts you afterwards (not always in a good way)

    By Blogger Sam, at 1/30/2006 01:04:00 pm  

  • ooh this looks really good.. i'm gonna try that for sure because i've been craving pine nuts and yup it sure is hot back here in melbourne. i'm enjoying your wacky kit kats series too.. disappointed to hear the wine one wasn't better. i had pumpkin flavoured chocolate in japan! (the pocky sticks).. they sure are inventive.
    come drop by fullasagoog too if you want, i'm back on the recipe madness!

    By Blogger joe cupcake, at 2/08/2006 05:13:00 pm  

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