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Food

Culinary SOS: A recipe for homemade chocolate ice cream

LOS ANGELES - MAY 9, 2019: Milk Chocolate Semifreddo with toppings cooked & styled by Genevieve Ko
Set up an ice cream sundae bar with chocolate semifreddo. It tastes best when it’s softened and even a little melted.
(Ren Fuller / For The Times / Prop styling by Nidia Cueva)

I’m having friends over for Memorial Day weekend and want to serve homemade ice cream for dessert, but don’t have an ice cream machine. Any suggestions?

Brandon Storms, Los Angeles

Semifreddo, a frozen dessert that hovers between the silkiness of mousse and the ice-cold-density of gelato, requires neither churning nor an ice cream machine. It’s one of the easiest, creamiest frozen desserts you can throw together.

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The basic whipped cream base can be seasoned endlessly — Rose Lawrence, the Firehouse Hotel’s pastry chef, has deployed vanilla, turnip and carrot in different iterations of this dessert. Her version here highlights chocolate’s richness without being too sweet. At the restaurant, she serves it with a saffron milk jam for a savory creaminess and hard caramel for crunch. You can get a similar effect with whipped cream and chopped nuts or sprinkles. For your party, you can cut the semifreddo and when ready to serve, set up a DIY ice cream bar with toppings.

LOS ANGELES - MAY 9, 2019: Milk Chocolate Semifreddo with toppings cooked & styled by Genevieve Ko
Creamy chocolate semifreddo is delicious with crunchy saffron caramel “glass,” nuts and sprinkles.
(Ren Fuller / For The Times / Prop styling by Nidia Cueva)

Chocolate Semifreddo

Chocolate Semifreddo recipe in our California Cookbook »

5 hours, largely freezing. Serves 12.

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  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 can(14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

1 Press plastic wrap into the bottom and up the sides of a 9- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet or cake pan with overhang on all 4 sides.
2 Sift the cocoa powder into a medium bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir until well-combined.

3 Whisk the cream using an electric mixer on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and add the cocoa mixture in a steady stream, then add the vodka and salt. When well-blended, pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

4 Smooth the top with a spatula, then gently press the plastic wrap overhang directly against the surface of the chocolate mixture. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

5 Lift the mixture out of the pan using the plastic wrap overhang and unwrap. Cut into 12 even pieces. Put on serving plates and top with shards of saffron glass. Serve immediately.

Saffron Glass

1 ½ hours, largely inactive. Serves 12.

  • 1 ½ teaspoons saffron
  • 3 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of fine salt

1 Put the saffron in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and brittle but not browned, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour the boiling water over the saffron and let stand for 1 hour to infuse.

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2 Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

3 Add the sugar, cream of tartar and salt to the saffron water. Stir well, then spread in an even layer. Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to brush any sugar granules off the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sugar is an amber color and registers 310 degrees on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour onto the prepared pan and spread as thin as possible with a spatula.

4 Let stand until completely cooled and hardened. Break into shards.

Make Ahead: The semifreddo can be frozen for up to 1 week. The glass will keep in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Have a cooking question? Want a recipe from a restaurant? Ask us at cooking@latimes.com.


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