Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Easiest Impressive Dessert in the World

Anyone can serve an easy dessert--break out a box of chocolates, a carton of ice cream or a package of cookies and voila, instant gratification.  It is also infinitely possible to serve an impressive dessert--either with  a lengthy stretch in the kitchen, wrestling with pastry dough and caramelizing sugar or by laying out significant cash at a high-end patisserie.   But today we have an easy and impressive dessert, starring this week's featured ingredient:  vanilla.  We mentioned vanilla's reputed aphrodisiac properties previously;  if your dinner guests sprint to the door after ingesting our concoction, we take no responsibility.  But, we guarantee that this Semifreddo will be a hit.

Semifreddo, or 'half cold' in Italian, encompasses a category of desserts including cakes, ice creams, fruits, custards or whipped creams that are partially frozen.  The following has been a go-to in my repertoire for years; it is simple, elegant, and very, very delicious.

Vanilla Semifreddo
Makes 6-8 servings
2 lbs fresh ricotta cheese (at Salumeria or Downtown Cheese)
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl.  Blend on medium high speed for 1 minute til mixture is smooth.  Chill and serve.
Suggestions:  Place semifreddo in large, pretty crystal bowl and top with fresh berries or melted dark chocolate.    Alternatively, serve in individual martini glasses or sorbet cups, drizzled with chocolate.  If you want to get really fancy, drizzle chocolate in the initial of each diner.  I did this at a party last summer and my guests were impressed.

Cook's Note:  This recipe can be made with the standard supermarket ricotta, and it's pretty good, but it is transcendent with fresh ricotta.

Since we gave you the real version last week, we thought a parody was in order.  Vid quality is not perfect, but it's hilarious nonetheless.....

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