Friday, February 1, 2013

Freezing Up

Normally when I procrastinate, I do so through the medium of games or television. Gaming is easy if I have a game I want to play but at the moment I don't have the games I want to play, and it's more difficult to procrastinate when it will take a three or four hour download before you can start the activity. Meanwhile a tree in the backyard has grown tall enough that is blocking the signal to the satellite dish for television, leaving me with only the free to air channels, and I am not yet so far gone that I can be distracted by Australian commercial television. The end result of this is that I've had no choice but to make some in roads on a few of my pet projects.

Hah! Not really. What I've done instead is distract myself with cooking. This is a bit of a surprise to be honest, and a frightening insight into how far I will go in order to not do something I think I should. The results of this bizarre tangent have been tasty for the most part, and culminated last night with semifreddo. Using this base recipe I concocted four small tubs of semifreddo each with a different flavour. Rather than go for something obvious, I of course decided to get weird, on the grounds that if I was just following a recipe it wouldn't be as finicky or time consuming as making things up.


First up is the chai, the least complex of the four. Make up a batch of chai herbs/spices, grind to powder, fold in along with some honey. Too easy, really.

Second was the Devonshire tea. No flavouring needed for the semifreddo itself, which is already cream, so that part was easy. I poured in half the tub worth, then added a series of hefty dollops of strawberry jam. The final touch, but actually the first thing done, is the tea sugar. I steeped six teabags in a cup of boiling water for about twenty minutes, then put in the heat and mixed in sugar until no more would dissolve. The result was the little flakes you see, which have a surprisingly good tea flavour to them, so that experiment was a success.

Third, not an original idea, was the stout and beer nuts. I have seen stout ice cream before and it seemed weird enough to give a shot. I asked +Jason Imms what a good stout was, purchased a Cascade Export Stout, and then went to work. I heated the stout to a boil and reduced it to about half volume, then added about half of that to the mixture. I would have added more, but most of the stout just ended up sinking to the bottom, although enough stayed to produce some flavour. To finish it off I added a handful of crushed beer nuts (the roasted peanuts with the husk bit still on). If I was making a batch of just this I'd definitely reduce the stout down even more and add it while whipping the cream (or maybe making the custard) to avoid the sediment problem.

Last flavour was gin and tonic. The gin an tonic itself was a 2:1 tonic:gin combination mixed 2:1 with sugar, heated, and the alcohol burnt off. That bit probably wasn't necessary, but I got to set fire to things, so it happened. Added some gelatine sheets, put in the fridge overnight, and there you have G&T jelly. I set it quite stiff, then cut it up and folded decent sized chunks into the mix. Then adding the garnish was just a matter of adding some lime zest (I would have used lemons, but the shop was sold out), and some cucumber pulp to the semifreddo.


Overall the base recipe was really good. It froze to a slightly soft ice cream texture that was eminently eatable straight out of the freezer. As for the modifications, something of a mixed bag. Best result was the chai. It tasted like a chai latte, only cold. I think having the right strength of flavour helped no end. Also the best texture, probably because it had less crap mixed into it. The stout was surprisingly good, the flavour was very light and tasted like a smoky toffee. In the photo it might look like there's some sort of peanut toffee layer, but it is fact just the stout that settled on the bottom; would not recommend eating frozen stout. The Devonshire tea was nice, but the jam flavour overtook everything else. I think thin strands of it would be the way to go. The G&T was interesting. I was concerned I hadn't put in enough lime, but the flavour was very pronounced. The jelly, on the other, had barely any flavour at all at that temperature. Left in the mouth to melt, the flavours came out a bit more. Not sure if the solution would be to make a more concentrated jelly, or if being frozen just kills the flavour regardless.

Overall I'd say the results were all right. Most of them could have benefited from the flavour being introduced during the whipping or folding stage rather than after, but that's the result of making four batches at once I suppose. I wasn't really keeping much track of quantities but getting the strength of the various elements right would probably take quite a bit of experimentation.

And there you have it: what I do when I have things to do and the television's not working.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome. I had semifreddo for the first time in Norway (!) very recently, and it was amazing. I need to find a place here in Dallas that serves it.


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