16 May 2016

Rhubarb & Mead Semifreddo with compote - such a simple joy!

Okay, now before I go any further, I feel I must explain both Mead and Semifreddo - just in case.

Mead is an alcoholic drink made (in a very skimpy nutshell) by mixing honey with yeast and water and leaving it to ferment.  Hubby has made a couple of batches of this elixir of life and it has very much received the thumbs up from the whole family.  However, if you're not into fermenting or wine making, you can easily substitute a sweet sherry, dessert or Marsala wine which will be slightly different in flavour, but just as delicious.

Hubby's home made Mead
Semifreddo is basically an ice cream.  Both product and name originate in Italy, the home of so many scrummy ice creams.  It translates as "partly frozen" and relates to the fact that the cream mixture is frozen solid, then allowed to thaw for an hour or so prior to serving.  This gives the deliciously icy texture along with the unctuous creamy texture of the thawed edges that is so characteristic of a Semifreddo.

I asked hubby what he would like for dessert on Sunday, following on from our roast pork dinner.  After just a moment's thought, he announced "a rhubarb semifreddo".  Well, what a blindingly good idea!  I briefly considered making it a rhubarb & ginger version but I'm keen to work the Mead into as many dishes as possible, just to prove how versatile it is.

Our first experience of semifreddo was one my Mum made - a mango & nectarine version.  Since then, I have made a lemon version which had a buttery ginger biscuit base and took the cream quantities from this BBC Good Food recipe : Limoncello & Raspberry Semifreddo which sounds equally good.  So this recipe has taken its inspiration from many different sources.

Baked rhubarb, ready for the compote
I was so pleased at how this one turned out, as I really wasn't sure about the quantities of sugar involved.  Well, you know how tart rhubarb can be - but I wanted a degree of that tartness to remain, to provide contrast between the tart fruit and the sweetness of the iced cream.  I decided against a biscuit base, this time, because I wanted to serve the semifreddo with some rhubarb & mead compote and I felt all three would be too much.

All ready for freezing
The end result was truly lovely.  Hubby was fairly incoherent in his attempts to lavish praise upon it, so impressed was he.  He immediately set up a manned exclusion zone around the freezer, just in case anyone attempted to help themselves.  The iced cream was deliciously sweet, rich with the flavours of the Mead and with that slightly acidic tang that creme fraiche brings to the party.  Our home grown rhubarb is so tasty, dear old Ruby and her daughter RubyTwo excel themselves every year in providing the best a rhubarb plant can.

The rhubarb compote, as with the rhubarb for the semifreddo, is made by oven baking the rhubarb, then combining it with the Mead and sugar and leaving the three to match up deliciously.  It was just fabulous along with the semifreddo.  On the one hand, sweet rhubarb with Meady syrup, on the other hand creamy semifreddo with tart fruity rhubarb.  Oh yes.  Very much yes.

The best, the very best, part about this recipe is that it is simplicity itself to make.  No fiddling around with eggs as with so many semifreddo recipes, but a simple matter of two bowls, some spoons and a whisk.  Oh, and a freezer.  Yup, got to have a freezer!

As you'll now no doubt be busting for the recipe, here we go.


RHUBARB & MEAD SEMIFREDDO WITH COMPOTE   (serves 10-12)

Ingredients :

6-8 good sized sticks of washed rhubarb
1, 1 & 2 tbsp granulated sugar
300ml double cream
80g golden caster sugar
400ml creme fraiche
5 & 3 tbsp Mead.

Method :

Firstly, prepare a 2lb-3lb loaf tin (or 2 x 1lb loaf tins) by lining them with a double layer of cling film, which should be significantly bigger than the tin, so as to be able to wrap the contents once frozen.

Then, take 3 or 4 of the pinkest sticks of rhubarb and slice them into half inch chunks, then halve each chunk.  Spread them out onto a non-stick baking tray (non-stick silver foil is great for this!), sprinkle with 1 tbsp of the granulated sugar and place into a pre-heated oven at 180degF/350degC/Gas 4 for 10 minutes, then turn the tray and replace for another 10 minutes until the fruit is cooked through and just beginning to lose juice.

When the cooking time is up, place the rhubarb to one side to cool and prepare the baking tray for another lot of rhubarb.

For this second lot, take the remains of the raw rhubarb and slice into one inch pieces but leave these pieces whole.  Spread them out onto a baking tray and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of sugar, as before.  Once again, exactly as the first time, place into the oven for 10 minutes, then turn the tray and replace for another 10 minutes until the fruit is cooked through, then remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Place the double cream, golden caster sugar and 5 tbsp of Mead into a large bowl and using a hand mixer, whisk until the cream will stand in soft peaks.

Place the creme fraiche into a separate bowl and whisk until visibly softened.  Some will go to soft peak stage, some won't.  So long as the creme fraiche has some air whisked into it, it will do nicely.

So long as the first batch (the smaller chunks) of rhubarb are perfectly cold, add them to the sweetened cream and add the creme fraiche. Gently stir them all together, not being too particular about it.  A certain degree of swirliness keeps the flavours interesting.

Pour the creamy loveliness .. no, actually, before you do anything else, taste the creamy loveliness.  You deserve to know how it is going to taste before the following day when you get to sample the end result .. so, having done that and recovered, pour the contents of the bowl into the loaf tin(s), smoothing down the top layer.

Place - uncovered - into the freezer until the following day, or until solid frozen.  Wrap the overlapping pieces of cling film over the top to protect the semifreddo until you require it.

To complete the compote, take a large Mason Jar or other sealable wide necked container and decant the larger chunks of rhubarb, sugar and any juice that's escaped, into it.  Add the remaining 3 tbsp of Mead and 2 tbsp granulated sugar and mix through lightly.  Seal the top and refrigerate until required.  

To assemble, remove the semifreddo from the freezer around 1 hour before required.  Turn the contents out onto a suitable plate and remove the cling film.  Place into your fridge to defrost slightly.  When ready to serve, using a sharp knife, cut a slice and add a good spoonful of the rhubarb & mead compote.  Enjoy!

Printable version

11 comments:

  1. I kid you not, boys and girls, this is the nicest dessert that I've ever tasted.....ever. In fact, I think it even beats strawberries....which, if you knew me, would be a startlingly unlikely claim. Go on, try some, you won't regret it.

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  2. Wow - this sounds heavenly! I love rhubarb ad I can't believe I have never tried a semifreddo. Going to have to do something about that asap!

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    1. It's a match made in heaven, Mandy! :)

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  3. I love the simplicity of this recipe! I never knew semifreddo was so easy! Also, rhubarb, how very seasonal! Being Cornish myself, I love a good mead! Perfect combo x

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    1. Many thanks, Jessica. The recipe for the mead is two blog posts on from this one, if you're interested in getting in a ferment! :D lol

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  4. I've never tried semi freddo but it sounds lovely and I'm sure the creaminess of it works well with the tart rhubarb.

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    1. This is only my second ever Semifreddo, but we are definite converts to the concept! Because the cream also has the sweet Mead and sugar incorporated in it, it becomes a beautiful foil for the tart rhubarb.

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  5. Rhubarb is one of my favourite ingredient in desserts and your semifreddo sounds delicious! What a great touch to use homemade mead as well!

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  6. Oooh homemade mead, my hubby would love this! We have a lot of rhubarb in the garden and this sounds like a great way to use it x

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    1. The compote uses more of the rhubarb than the semifreddo, but as one goes with the other, it does make a little bit of a dent in your rhubarb patch, yes! lol Have you seen the recipe for the mead is on the blog, too? :)

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