It was Valentine’s Day yesterday and while neither G or I buy into the commercialism of the day we do like to spend some time together and relax. The one thing I do like about a day that celebrates love is that it reminds us all how important our loved ones are in our lives. I fell in love with my amazing man the week after our first date and am very grateful for the wonderful relationship that we have. I often find that cooking involves “marriages made in heaven”, things that just work when they are put together. Truffles and eggs, tomatoes and basil, even ham and mustard. Baci is one of G’s favourite consumable items in the world and while I don’t really like many liquers I would walk over hot coals for some Frangelico on ice with a wedge of lime. Put those two together and you have something that I consider fail safe. However, I wanted to confirm my plan with G and also have a back up in case my thoughts weren’t on target, so I choose a seasonal fruit, plums.
When I gave G the option of Baci Semifreddo or Plum Ripple Semifreddo the choice was very simple and obvious. We are off to Aunty J’s tomorrow night for dinner and I asked if I could contribute by bringing along something for dessert. That meant I had to choose something that I could make ahead, would travel well and I could do the final assembly after dinner. I had some egg yolks left over from some meringue I made over the weekend so to me that simply meant “make ice cream”. Normally I would make a traditional vanilla or some other fruit that needed to be used but today I wanted something with a point of difference, something that would make people say “Yum”. What better way to do that than with an ice-cream flavoured with chocolate, nuts and alcohol.
I have to tell you that I am not a big fan of Baci chocolates nor of ice-cream. In fact, the only thing I like about ice cream is the slighty gooey edge that is created when it softens in the container. When I made this recipe I was unsure why I needed to line the container and to be honest I don’t think it is necessary unless you want to turn it out and serve it in slices. However, this did give me a excellent excuse to allow the semifreddo to soften slightly, creating that gooey edge. This is such a delicious mix that I turned it out, removed the baking paper and promptly stood in front of the kitchen sink devouring every ounce of chocolatey covering that the paper had. When I had finished I went to the bathroom to find my chin completely covered with evidence of my gluttony. I smiled to myself and fondly remembered those moments of my childhood where sneaking ice-cream from the edge of the container gave me such pleasure.
My tips: For the Semifreddo – *The temptation is to add more alcohol for that “extra kick” but do be careful as it can potentially seize the mixture when you add the chocolate. *When adding the ingredients together make sure that you work quickly as the mixture can begins to stiffen. When adding the first quantity of cream you may need to beat it in a little to loosen the mixture, then fold the remaining cream in gently and it will keep its volume. *Remove the semifreddo from the fridge at least 10 minutes before you want to serve it. For the Ladies’ Kisses – *Make sure that you add a good pinch of salt because it brings out the flavours and balances the sweetness. *If you do not have a food processer just place the hazlenuts into a tea towel of strong plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin or other heavy object. *Make sure that you only use a teaspoon of the mixture when rolling them as this will effect the desired outcome of your biscuits, especially if you want to join them together. The smaller they are the flatter they become when they are cooked, the larger size will just rise up but won’t flatten much.
ease: 8/10. This wasn’t difficult, you just need to have all of the components ready before you start.
prep time: 30 mins.
cooking time: 5mins.
taste: 9/10. I couldn’t resist testing the semifreddo after about 4 hours in the freezer and it was like a chilled, dense, chocolate mousse. I had to force myself to put it back in the freezer overnight. Once the mixture had set completely it was removed from the freezer. Let me just say that if you like Baci chocolate you will love this dessert because it tastes exactly the same; rich, dark chocolate and hazlenuts, mmmm. I took off half a point because it was slightly too rich for me.
would I make it again: Absolutely – I think this is an easy and delicious dessert that would satisfy any chocolate lover and non Baci lovers alike.
Baci di dama (Ladies’ Kisses) Biscuits
ease: 9/10. Very simple.
prep time: 30 mins.
cooking time: 30mins.
taste: 9/10. These are delicious. They have everything that I imagine a ladies kiss to have, firm to begin with yielding to a softness that seems familiar. These biscuits have an almost macaroon like texture with that lovely soft centre. The nuts and orange work really well together.
would I make it again: Definitely – Either as a bisuits to have with coffee or to use as an addition to the semifreddo.
We decided to serve these in a glass with the option of Frangelico in the bottom and biscuits to be crushed over the top or eaten along with the semifreddo. The other option is to serve it with orange segments. My favourite option was to make them into ice cream sanwiches, so instead of holding them together with a ganache like filling using the semifreddo.
The Frangelico in the bottom of the glass with crushed biscuits went down a treat and the flavours balanced each other well. So I guess this is one of those things that “just works”. I hope your Valentine’s Day was exactly that.
Baci Semifreddo Recipe  – From Gourmet Traveller, January 2010
Ladies’ Kisses Biscuit Recipe  – From Gourmet Traveller, Online