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2000s Recipes + Menus

Almond Praline Semifreddo with Grappa-Poached Apricots

Serves4
  • Active time:1 1/4 hr
  • Start to finish:7 hr (includes freezing)
July 2009
Apricots and almonds have an affinity for each other, as you’ll discover in this marriage of the stone fruit and a cool semifreddo dotted with crushed almond praline. This semifreddo (Italian for “half-cold”) is like a softly set ice cream that doesn’t require churning. Grappa lends the poached fruit character and depth. View more of our favorite recipes from this issue.

For semifreddo

  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds with skin (1 ounce), toasted (see Tips) and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream

For apricots

  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup grappa
  • 8 firm-ripe apricots (1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lb), halved and pitted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make semifreddo:

  • Line a lightly oiled 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  • Cook 1/3 cup sugar in a dry small heavy skillet over medium heat, undisturbed, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until a deep golden caramel.
  • Stir in almonds to coat and scrape onto baking sheet. Cool, then break into pieces. Pulse in a food processor until praline is finely ground (do not grind to a paste).
  • Beat eggs and remaining 1/4 cup sugar with a pinch of salt in a 2-qt metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water using a handheld electric mixer at high speed until tripled in volume and very thick, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until mixture is cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Stir in extract.
  • With cleaned beaters, beat cream until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold about one third of whipped cream into egg mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining cream and all but 1 Tbsp praline gently but thoroughly (reserve 1 Tbsp praline for garnish). Spoon into loaf pan and freeze, covered, until firm, at least 6 hours.

Poach apricots:

  • Bring water, sugar, and zest to a simmer in a 12-inch heavy skillet, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Simmer 5 minutes. Add grappa and return to a simmer. Toss apricots with lemon juice, then put, cut sides down, in grappa syrup and simmer 5 minutes. Turn apricots over and simmer until just tender, 1 to 3 minutes more.
  • Transfer apricots with a slotted spoon to a 13- by 9-inch dish, arranging them in 1 layer. Boil syrup in skillet until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 3 minutes, and pour over apricots. Cool to room temperature.
  • Uncover semifreddo and invert onto a chilled platter, using plastic wrap to help pull it from mold. Sprinkle reserved praline on top. Slice semifreddo crosswise and serve with apricots and syrup.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Semifreddo can be made 3 days ahead and kept frozen, well wrapped.
  • Apricots with syrup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled.
  • The eggs in this recipe are not fully cooked.
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