My mother adores torrone (nougat), especially the hard variety that shatters when you try to cut it. If we ever want to give her a special treat, hard torrone is an obvious choice. Years ago it was pretty much impossible to find in Australia, all you could find was the soft version. It was somewhat of a disappointment to bite into the torrone and find out that you had a soft one rather than the hard variety. To me it is like first trying Dutch liquorice and finding out it was salty when I expected it to be sweet.
I have never tried to make torrone – some recipes saying it takes up to 12 hours to make the hard variety (and others say 3 hours). So I have never been game to try. And it is now a lot easier to find in shops in Australia – I can find both an Italian and a Spanish variety at the local store. I bought a packet with which to make torrone and amaretto semifreddo. So you may ask… what is semifreddo? Well there is no English word, it literally means “semi-cold” and is a semi frozen sweet, a bit like ice-cream but with no need for churning or for any special equipment. It is simply brilliant.
It makes a perfect dinner party dessert. Make it in the morning in about 30 minutes, pop it in the freezer and take it out just before serving. You can make it with fruit like bananas, passion fruit, lemon or even panettone. I used hard nougat plus crushed amaretti biscotti to make this semifreddo. I love the different textures in it – the contrast of little crunchy bits and sweet cream. I do not think it will be quite the same thing if you use soft nougat so take the time to try to find the hard version from your local good quality delicatessen (or buy online).
I will take some over to mamma during the week (probably in an esky) as I am certain she will love this version of semifreddo. Her second favourite sweet is amaretti, so I have no doubt that a recipe that contains both will be a winner!
Semifreddo al torrone e amaretti
200g (7.1oz) hard nougat, roughly crushed
50g (1.75 oz) amaretti, roughly crushed
2 large eggs, separated
200ml (6.75 fl.oz) thickened cream
50g (1.75oz) caster sugar
Place the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt and whisk until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat the cream until firm. In a third bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow, light and fluffy. Add the cream to the egg whites, gently folding from the bottom of the bowl to the top until combined. Then add the the egg yolk mixture, again folding carefully. Lastly add the crushed nougat and amaretti, folding until evenly combined. Place in moulds lined with generous amounts of cling film or baking paper (to assist with unmoulding later on). I used a ceramic terrine container approx 240x90x90mm – or you could use between 6 and 8 small round ramekins, depending on the size.
Freeze for 3-4 hours (ramekins) or overnight for the log container. When firm, lift the semifreddo out of its container using the cling film or baking paper. Place on chilled plates and decorate with extra crushed amaretti or nougat shards. Serve immediately. You could also serve topped with a couple of raspberries or strawberries. The semifreddo keeps for about a week in the freezer. It might keep for longer but I never have leftovers after that time!