July 4th, 2013
When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached,
don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.
The obvious action step in the process of making a plum semifreddo is to buy plums, but in a grocery store frenzy, I completely neglected the obvious. My main goal in making the semifreddo so beautifully depicted in Bon Appetit’s July issue was to add a pop of reddish color to my 4th o’ July pie. This lack-of-plums type of oversight is what often leads to some of my best improvisations, and in this case, the oversight led to a beet in my crisper.
The adjusted action steps worked! I had a reddish pop of color to accompany my pie presentation, and my 4th of July audience of eaters had a moment of silence to savor every sweet bite! That’s the sign a girl hopes for!
Beet & Cardamom Semifreddo
adapted from Bon Appétit
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 medium local beet, roasted (~1 cup chopped in a food processor)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup turbinado raw sugar, divided
3 large organic egg whites
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup local heavy cream, chilled
Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray and line with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang on all sides.
Combine chopped beet, cardamom, 1/3 cup raw sugar, and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and beets are further softened, about 5 minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Whisk egg whites, a pinch of salt, and remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a medium heatproof bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water).
Heat, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, about 4 minutes.
Remove bowl from saucepan.
Add vanilla and, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is tripled in volume, glossy, and completely cool, about 10 minutes.
Using clean beaters, whip cream in another medium bowl until soft peaks form.
Fold 1/3 of whipped cream into egg-white mixture until just combined.
Fold in remaining whipped cream until just combined.
Fold in the beet mixture just until large streaks appear throughout mixture.
Transfer mixture to prepared pan and smooth top. Fold plastic wrap overhang over top and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.
Unwrap semifreddo and, using plastic overhang, gently lift from pan. Invert semifreddo onto a large platter, remove plastic wrap, and slice 1 inch thick; transfer to plates and let sit at least 5 minutes to soften slightly unless you’re serving this dessert in a muggy city on the 4th of July. In that case, serve and dig in immediately!