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Ice cream sandwiches might seem like children's snacks, but everyone enjoyed the frozen Middle Eastern treats at a Persian festival my husband and I attended recently in Los Angeles. The exotic ice cream was flavored with saffron, rosewater and pistachios - and it was absolutely delicious.
The key to making good ice cream sandwiches is using thin, light cookies that won't freeze too hard. But ice cream sandwiches might be too "everyday" for an after-dinner Shabbat dessert. A frozen dessert appropriate for playing the role of a modern Shabbat cake should look a bit more impressive.
Ice cream cakes fit the bill and can easily be assembled by layering different flavors of ice cream in a springform pan, to be sliced in multicolored wedges. If you use sorbets and parve ice cream, you can have a tasty parve dessert; use the Melon-Strawberry Sorbet Loaf recipe below as a model.
Another festive sweet suitable for Shabbat is an Italian dessert known as a semifreddo.
The name means "half-cold" and "is derived from the fact that the concoction never freezes as hard as gelati," wrote Michele Scicolone in La Dolce Vita, her book on Italian desserts. Many cold and frozen desserts are called semifreddi, but Scicolone finds the best are frozen "mousse-like mixtures mixed or layered with fruit, chocolate, crumbled cookies or nuts."
Whenever we drove around Italy, we found semifreddo as a dessert special at family trattorias and when I ordered one, I was never sure what to expect. One semifreddo I liked was super-creamy and resembled a striped chocolate-vanilla ice cream cake.
Another was an almond and chocolate ring garnished with toasted sliced almonds.
In France, I came across similar creative freezer sweets, like a frozen walnut and cognac charlotte in the Bordeaux area and a raspberry-garnished chocolate-kirsch mousse in Paris. French chefs refer to such preparations as mousses glacees.
Americans might call them simply frozen puddings. Their advantage, in addition to their scrumptious taste, is that they don't need an ice cream machine for their preparation and they wait for a week or longer in the freezer without becoming icy.
FROZEN CHOCOLATE ALMOND RING
When this elegant dessert is unmolded, the ladyfingers and luscious filling form a sunburst pattern. If you like, garnish it with whipped cream and chocolate-dipped almonds.
Makes 8 servings
4 3â„4 cup blanched almonds
4 170 gr. fine-quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
4 4 large egg yolks
4 5 Tbsp. sugar
4 3 Tbsp. water
4 4 Tbsp. brandy or liqueur
4 12â„3 cups whipping cream, well-chilled
4 About 60 gr. packaged ladyfingers, more if needed
4 Lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional, for serving)
4 Chocolate-dipped almonds (optional, for serving)
Preheat oven to 175ÂºC. Toast almonds in a baking dish for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and cool completely. Grind almonds with 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor until as fine as possible, scraping inward occasionally.
Lightly oil a 5- or 6-cup ring mold. Melt chocolate in a medium bowl over nearly simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from pan of water.
Whisk yolks with 4 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small metal bowl.
Set bowl in a pan of nearly simmering water. Heat, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches 70ÂºC. on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and immediately whip with mixer until cool. Add to chocolate all at once; stir until smooth.
Add 2 tablespoons brandy.
In a large, chilled bowl, whip cream with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until nearly stiff.
Fold half of whipped cream into chocolate mixture. Fold in ground almonds, followed by remaining whipped cream.
Line ring mold with ladyfingers, cutting them to fit as necessary. Leave spaces between them near outer edge of mold. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons brandy and remaining tablespoon water in a small bowl and brush on ladyfingers. Carefully pour mousse into mold and smooth top. Cover and freeze for 6 hours or until set.
To unmold, rinse a thin-bladed flexible knife with hot water, dry it and run it around the ring's outer edge and center. Dip mold in lukewarm water to come halfway up its side, about 5 seconds. Dry base of mold. Set a round platter on top of mold. Holding firmly together, flip quickly so dessert is right-side up. Shake mold gently downward; dessert should slip onto platter. If dessert remains in mold, put a hot damp towel on top of mold for a few seconds and tap platter on a folded towel set on work surface. Lift up mold carefully.
Freeze for 5 minutes or until ready to serve. Cut in slices with a sturdy knife.
MELON-STRAWBERRY SORBET LOAF
Two sorbets layered with vanilla ice cream make an appealing summer dessert.
Accompany the striped slices with melon balls or Melon Sauce (see next recipe).
Makes 8 servings
4 2 cups fine-quality vanilla ice cream, dairy or parve
4 2 cups strawberry sorbet
4 2 cups melon or other fruit sorbet
4 16 to 24 melon balls (optional)
Lightly oil 20 cm. x 10 cm. loaf pan and line with sheet of waxed paper, folding corners of paper inward so it fits tightly and neatly and allowing paper to extend slightly above edges of pan. Lightly oil paper. Refrigerate lined pan 10 minutes. Chill 3 medium-size bowls.
Soften ice cream in a chilled bowl by stirring until spreadable. Add ice cream to prepared pan and press it down well so there are no holes. Spread until smooth with rubber spatula. Freeze 30 minutes.
Soften strawberry sorbet in a chilled bowl by breaking sorbet apart with spoon and stirring just until spreadable but not completely smooth; do not let it melt. Carefully add small spoonfuls of sorbet to cover ice cream; do not add large chunks or they will force up vanilla layer when pressed down. Using rubber spatula, press sorbet down gently and spread to smooth even layer. Freeze 30 minutes.
Soften melon sorbet in a chilled bowl. Carefully add small spoonfuls of melon sorbet to cover strawberry layer. Using rubber spatula, press down gently and spread to smooth even layer. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.
To unmold, run thin-bladed flexible knife around edge of paper, if necessary. Pull on paper to release it from sides of pan and turn dessert out onto board or rectangular platter. Peel off paper. Using sturdy knife, cut loaf in slices 2 cm. thick, wiping knife after each cut. Garnish with melon balls.
Use any kind of sweet melon to make this sauce. Add enough sugar so the sauce tastes sweet enough to complement the ice cream.
Makes 8 servings
4 900 gr. to 1 kg. melon, halved, seeds
and rind removed
4 7 Tbsp. powdered sugar, sifted, or more if needed
4 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 6 to 8 tsp. fruit liqueur (optional)
Cut melon in cubes. Puree in food processor or blender. Add 6 tablespoons powdered sugar. Process until very smooth. To make sauce smoother and prevent powdered sugar lumps, strain into a bowl, pressing on pulp in strainer; with rubber spatula, scrape mixture from underside of strainer.
Taste sauce, and whisk in more powdered sugar if needed. Whisk thoroughly to blend in sugar. If lumps of sugar remain, strain sauce again. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Just before serving stir in lemon juice and liqueur. Serve cold.
Faye Levy is the author of Fresh from France: Dessert Sensations and of Sefer Hakinuhim (in Hebrew). n
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