A nine-year gap between the first and the second time is a lot for something that was very good. While I was browsing for a dessert idea for New Year's Eve, I chanced upon my La Cucina Italiana December 2002 issue full of handwritten tabs. Exactly 9 years ago, I prepared this dessert for myself and my husband at home on our New Year's Eve dinner. That was a lifetime ago. No kids yet. There was just me, my husband and our dog.
I remember during those times speaking about wanting to have kids, how fun it would be to have a bit of noise and chaos on the dinner table with the kids and the dog having fun together. We got our wish, twofold even. Then now, I close my eyes and try to tune out the noise of the two kids to send away an arriving headache and to be able to taste what I am eating. I always forget that this is what I had wished for. In life, we forget and take for granted so many of our blessings. We really need to sit down, open our eyes and look well what is in front of us. And stop wishing for more.
New Year is the occasion when we receive wishes for a prosperous year. I received a message from a friend simply wishing me and my family good health. I was affected by it. Stripping down to the basic is fundamental. We need to guard our healths because it is our most valuable wealth. It is the battery that needs to be in good charge and condition to keep us going in our lives, year after year.
Let this be a reminder to myself to stop going outdoors to take pictures when it is freezing and very windy. I did the best I could to present this delectable semifreddo. The sauce froze as soon as I started taking pictures. Normally, it has a shining amber hue that compels you to eat it. Just imagine it dripping on the sides. Yum!
Semifreddo con le Prugne (Prune Parfait)Ingredients:
Makes 8 servings
- 400 g. fresh cream, whipped at the moment
- 250 g. dried prunes, seeded
- 70 g. white sugar (or 50 g. white sugar + 20 g. muscovado sugar which I used.)
- 50 g. egg whites
- knob of butter
- 1/2 glass armagnac (I substituted it with cognac.)
- 250 g. *crema pasticcera (custard cream), 25 g. flour, 250 ml. milk, 3 egg yolks, 1 vanilla pod (or vanilla extract), 75 g. sugar
- Marinate prunes in 1/2 glass cognac for 3 hours. After 3 hours, drain, reserving the cognac. Chop finely 150 g. of the prunes, setting aside the rest unchopped.
- *Prepare the crema pasticcera (custard cream). Boil the milk (leaving 1/2 glass for later) with the vanilla pod in a small saucepan. Once it boils, take it away from the fire and let it infuse for 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix the yolks with the sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture becomes creamy and frothy. Pour about 1/3 of the segregated milk, then the flour, little by little. Continue mixing with the electric mixer. Take away the vanilla pod. Pour the mixture little by little to the milk in the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Whisk continuously to prevent formation of lumps. Simmer on low heat until it becomes thick. Turn off the fire and let it cool.
- In a bowl, mix the crema pasticcera, chopped prunes, whipped cream, 4 tablespoons of cognac from the marinade.
- In another bowl, whip egg whites mixed with 50 g. sugar.
- Mix the egg whites delicately with the crema pasticcera mixture.
- Distribute the mixture to 8 molds lined with wax paper each. Freeze for 6 hours.
- At the moment of serving, prepare a small saucepan with a knob of butter. Add the remaining prunes, 20 g. muscovado sugar & the remaining cognac. Tilt the saucepan a bit towards the fire to flambe' the sauce.
- Extract the semifreddi from the molds and transfer them to the serving plate. You can shape them better by using a round food cutter. Pour a tiny portion of sauce on the semifreddo with one prune on top.