I've reached an age where I say things like, "I love old movies". Of course "old" now means anything from the '70s or '80s. Oddly when you watch the oldies, very few of them actually hold up all that well. The Godfathers, I and II, are exceptions. Every time I watch either film I'm amazed at how perfectly done they are.
They say there is a scene or phrase from those movies that's appropriate for any event in your life. That thought crossed my mind the other day as I watched SSSal struggle with a new dessert.
There's a small but spectacular scene in Godfather II where Michael, (Al Pacino), realizes that he has been betrayed by his older brother Fredo, (John Cazale). Recovering from a botched assassination attempt, facing a threat to the very existence of his empire, Michael grabs Fredo, kisses him and says. "I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart". Without giving too much away, suffice it to say that the kiss is "the kiss of death".
It's like that with cooking some times, you're chugging along, everything appears to be going well and then, BOOM! From out of the blue something inexplicable takes place that can't be fully recovered from.
We are big Giada DeLaurentiis fans in this house. Most everything we have prepared from her recipes has been fantastic. SSSal offered to make a dessert for a dinner party and she settled on Giada's Mocha Semifreddo. Semifreddo translates to semi-frozen. It's a custard dessert that involves cooking and then judicious freezing.
Everything was done to plan. Every rule was followed. Yet when the the dessert came out of the freezer, (after two days), it was far more "semi" than "freddo". It tasted great, but it spent a lot of time oozing it's way across the plate. All you could do is look at it and say, "You broke my heart semifreddo. You broke my heart".
SSSal has made a citrus semifreddo that turned out as advertised, but not this mocha version. So I encourage you to try this dessert. Maybe you can tell us where we went wrong. Please enjoy...
by Giada DeLaurentiis
Nonstick Cooking Spray
4 ounces amaretti cookies, crushed
3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
8 large egg yolks
1/3 cup espresso or strong coffee
2 TBSP Dry Marsala or Dry Sercial Madiera
1 cup whipping cream
Spray a 9x5x3 inch metal loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Line the pan with plastic wrap, allowing excess to hang over the sides and edges by 3 inches apiece.
In a medium bowl combine the crushed amaretti cookies and the melted butter. Put into the lined pan and press down firmly to form a crust.
Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and water and set aside.
Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, lemon juice, lime juice, dry marsala, and salt in a large metal mixing bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, do not let the bottom of the mixing bowl touch the simmering water, (you've just created a home-made double boiler).
Whisk the egg mixture until it is thick and creamy, and until a thermometer inserted in to the mixture reads 160 degrees F, (about 5 minutes). NOTE: If the water is boiling, or the mixing bowl touches the water, invite the family into the kitchen for scrambled eggs, because that's what you're going to get.
Set the bowl of custard into the ice water bath, being careful not to get any water into the custard. Allow to cool completely.
Gently stir in the lemon and lime zest.
In another large bowl, using an electric mixture, beat the whipping cream and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until firm peaks form.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the custard. Spoon the mixture onto the prepared crust.
Fold the overhanging plastic wrap over the custard and freeze at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.
Unfold the plastic wrap. Invert the semifreddo onto a platter and carefully peel off the wrap.
Cut the semifreddo into 1 inch slices and serve with additional crushed amaretti cookies as a garnish.
OK, I admit there's a lot of little steps, but hey, it's a dessert, what did you expect? The result though is a lush, if in our particular case, soupy, dessert. It borders on frozen chocolate mouse with amaretti cookies.
I'll be back in a few days. I'm not sure what's going to be on the menu, but until then, just remember, you can do it, you can cook.
P.S. Rent "The Godfather" and "The Godfather II", movies just don't get any better.
P.P.S. Avoid "The Godfather III" like the plague, movies don't get much worse.