With hindsight, I can probably pinpoint the moment that I realised that my boyfriend and I were in it for the long haul to our second date.
Our first date was a week after we met at a mutual friend’s birthday party. We went for a late dinner on a Friday night and a restaurant that has long since disappeared, followed by more mojitos than is probably advisable for a first date. The next day, I convinced myself that was it; another one of those acquaintances you tend to make in your early-twenties when your worlds overlap for a brief moment and then spin apart.
Our second date was on a Sunday night. We went to see a fairly terrible film (the 2009 version of Dorian Gray) and then went to the Haagen-Dazs café in Leicester Square. We both ate large ice cream sundaes and drank hot chocolate and then spent the rest of the night texting each other about how eating that much sugar before bed was a really stupid idea.
And we’ve been together ever since.
Looking back at the LiveJournal that I kept at the time is pretty hilarious now. There is a lot (and I mean a lot) of woe, the vast majority of which was totally in my head. There are whole entries devoted to analysing an offhand comment or text message and what it might mean for the future of our relationship or, more likely, the lack thereof.
In amongst all of the self-indulgence, I keep catching glances of what our relationship has become. The foundations of our life together are all in those early months of dating and, just like our second date did, they generally involved ice cream.
For a while, it seemed to be the defining characteristic of our relationship. For our first valentines day together, which came at that slightly awkward 3-month point, I bought him a book of ice cream recipes (which we never actually used; I should probably try and find it now that we have a proper ice cream maker) and we both independently bought each other ice cream related cards.
Almost everything else that we did in those early months was accompanied by a bowl of ice cream. Now that we’re both a little older and wiser, we don’t tend to eat quite as much ice cream as we did in those early days but it’s a rare week that goes past without at least one trip to the freezer.
This a hybrid really of two of my/our favourite things: raspberry ripple ice cream (albeit made with strawberries) and a vienetta. As is fairly traditional for a semifreddo, this recipe contains raw eggs. I am, generally, fairly happy to eat raw eggs especially as I generally buy organic eggs. If you're less inclined, there are recipes out there that involve cooking the eggs or you can just use vanilla ice cream (which, frankly, generates a lot less washing up).
- 200g (8 oz) strawberries
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Black pepper
- 200g (8 oz) dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
- 4 eggs, separated
- 100g (4 oz; a touch over 3/4 cup) icing sugar / powdered sugar
- 300ml (1 1/4 cup) double / heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (for choice, vanilla extract will work too)
- Start by making the strawberry layer. Hull and halve the strawberries and mix with the balsamic vinegar and a couple of twists of black pepper. Roast for about half an hour in an oven at 350F/180C until the berries have shrivelled and are soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before blitzing with a stick blender or in a food processor. Chill the strawberry puree before using.
- For the chocolate layer, line a largeish baking tray with cling film and melt the chocolate in a small pan over a low heat, taking it off the stove just before the chocolate has completely melted. Pour the chocolate into the baking tray and spread out until very thin. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before breaking into shards.
- With those two layers done, you're ready to start making the semifreddo. Wrap a 2lb loaf tin with cling film a couple of times and then line with a sheet of baking paper. In one bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff (easiest with an electric whisk but you can do it by hand). In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and icing sugar until pale and thick. In a third (large) bowl, whisk the cream with the vanilla until soft peaks form. So long as you whip the egg whites first, you can generally get away with not cleaning them in between. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the cream and then fold the egg whites through it all. Spoon a thin layer of the egg/sugar/cream mixture into the loaf pan and put in the freezer until almost solid.
- Keep on adding thin layers of the cream mixture, separated by shards of chocolate and/or the strawberry puree. The whole thing will take a couple of hours from start to finish but it's not the end of the world if one layer isn't totally solid before starting on the next. No precise instructions here, just do whatever you fancy.
- Once you've finished, allow the whole thing to freeze for a couple of hours before serving. At this point, it will have the normal soft semifreddo texture. It will firm up if you leave it in the freezer overnight but will melt fairly quickly once you take it out. It's your choice how you want to eat it.
Liberally adapted from the rhubarb ripple semifreddo in a recent (April maybe?) issue of BBC Good Food.