Califonia Bountiful

Nutella semifreddo

Semifreddo in Italian means half frozen, and this recipe—chef John Paolone's mother's—features a light, creamy filling atop a crunchy, nutty crust. "I don't have a sweet tooth at all, but I could eat a whole pan of this," the chef acknowledged with a laugh.

Chef John Paolone
Café Firenze, Moorpark

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3 (5-by-3/4-inch) plain or almond biscotti (about 4 oz.), halved
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

8 egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, at room temperature (recommended: Nutella)


For crust: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-5-by-3-inch nonstick loaf pan with vegetable oil cooking spray. Tear 2 pieces of parchment paper: a 3-by-15-inch piece and a 7 1/2-by-12-inch piece. Line the pan with the paper, allowing the excess to hang over the ends and sides.

In a food processor, blend biscotti and hazelnuts until finely ground. Add melted butter and pulse until crumbs are moistened. Using a flexible spatula, press crumb mixture into the bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

For filling: In a medium stainless steel or glass bowl, whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk until egg mixture is pale, thick and creamy, and an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees, about 10 to 15 minutes. Place bowl in a larger bowl of iced water to cool completely.

In another medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream until thick. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until cream holds stiff peaks. Mix 1/4 of the cream into cooled custard. Using a spatula, gently fold remaining cream into custard. Drop spoonfuls of Nutella over custard mixture and gently fold until just incorporated but still chunky. Spoon mixture onto prepared crust. Fold overhanging parchment paper over custard and freeze at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.

Run a thin-bladed spatula around the semifreddo between the parchment paper and the pan. Unfold paper and invert semifreddo onto a platter. Peel off paper and cut semifreddo into 1-inch-thick slices. Serve on chilled plates.

Serves 6 to 8

Photo: © 2017 Tony Pinto

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