Shavuot Ideas – Saffron Semifreddo with a Dried Cherry-Cardamom Sauce and Almond-Orange Financiers

Chocolate is most people’s guilty pleasure, but my guilty pleasure is ice cream. And not just any ice cream, but luscious Italian gelato, preferably eaten in Italy at one of my favorite gelateria, Perche No!, in Firenze, or in Israel at Gelateria Siciliana on Ibn Givrol in Tel Aviv.

I also enjoy making my own ice cream and sorbet at home, which I have blogged in several posts here.

The final course for the dinner party last week was a recipe for semifreddo that intrigued me from the moment I saw it on the Food52 website. Semifreddo literally means “half-frozen” and is a frozen dessert that has a mousse-like texture from equal parts of ice cream custard and whipped double (heavy) cream.

I didn’t deviate from the recipe at all and even made the salted-honey hazelnuts, but in the rush of trying to serve the dessert, I forgot to plate them. It was actually better in the end because it would have been too much of a taste contrast with the mini almond-orange financiers I served on the side. The dessert was a huge hit, which made me very happy since Mimi was afraid that some of the guests might not like the taste of saffron. I used a very high quality saffron that I had been keeping for a special occasion.

Sarah, from Foodbridge, brought a large bag filled with Surinam Cherries, also known as Pitanga in Brazil. They were a perfect decoration for the top of the semifreddo and were also quite delicious. I had never had them before but they  remind me of cherries, which as my faithful readers know is one of my favorite fruits.

Mimi suggested that we serve an alternative to the semifreddo, so I decided to make mini financiers which I baked in a silcone chocolate mold that can withstand up to 220C (425F). Financiers are a light teacake, similar to sponge cake, and are usually made of almond flour, a beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, icing sugar and flour. Financiers are often baked in rectangular-shaped molds which are suppose to resemble a bars of gold. You can find these molds in cooking shops, such as 4Chef, in Tel Aviv.

The dessert was a huge hit and I will definitely make this again. I made the semifreddo a couple of days in advance and made the financiers the day before, but you could easily make these several days before and freeze them.

The dessert was served with Mimi’s delicious homemade liqueurs. On offer were lemoncello, geranium, apricot, strawberry and coffee. I love all of them, but my personal favorite is apricot.

Print
Almond-Orange Financiers
Servings: 21 5 x 10-cm (2 x 4-inch) financiers or 50 mini
Ingredients
  • 30 g 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds
  • 140 g 1 cup almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds
  • 210 g 1-2/3 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Zest of one large orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 185 g 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).
  2. With a pastry brush, butter the financier molds with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange them side-by-side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to re-solidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, orange zest and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the 3/4 cup of butter and mix until blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.
  4. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200C (400F). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold.
  6. (Note: If you are using metal Financier molds, then wash them immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.

 

Print
Almond-Orange Financiers
Servings: 21 5 x 10-cm (2 x 4-inch) financiers or 50 mini
Ingredients
  • 30 g 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds
  • 140 g 1 cup almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds
  • 210 g 1-2/3 cups icing (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Zest of one large orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 185 g 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F).
  2. With a pastry brush, butter the financier molds with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Arrange them side-by-side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to re-solidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, orange zest and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the 3/4 cup of butter and mix until blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.
  4. Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200C (400F). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold.
  6. (Note: If you are using metal Financier molds, then wash them immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.
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Written by Baroness Tapuzina

Michelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

5 thoughts on “Shavuot Ideas – Saffron Semifreddo with a Dried Cherry-Cardamom Sauce and Almond-Orange Financiers

  1. That was so pretty and delicious! I had never had pitangas before either,but next day stumbled into a small pitanga tree, just outside the Muller youghurt tent at Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv.

  2. What an amazing dessert! Financiers are one of the best petits fours, and I love semifreddos and Persian saffron ice cream, and you combined all those wonderful elements in one! Bravo!

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