Last weekend at the Farmers’ Market Mr. T espied some lovely red currants and insisted that we get some. This is pretty much par for the course, as he is utterly mad for the magical “soft fruits” like currants and gooseberries that we almost never see in this country. Of course, there may be a few reasons for this lack of weird berries here in the U.S….
Red currants, for example, are delightful, but they’re also incredibly delicate, grow on hard-to-harvest racemes, and very close to too tart to eat out of hand. In England, they’re used to make jams, sauces for meat, and sweets like summer puddings and fools. Mr. T suggested pie, but 2 pints of berries does not a pie make, nor did I want to futz with pastry, or baking for that matter, when it was 97°F outside.
I did, though, want the currants to be the main event, not merely a garnish on the side, so I needed something that would carry the berries’ flavor without much interference. Summer pudding would have been lovely, but I had no suitable bread for the case. And then I remembered Mr. T telling me about the summer he and his Auntie had made red currant ice cream, an ice cream so delicious that they both made themselves slightly ill eating it. Now, in a family where the preferred dessert comes in a tumbler on the rocks, this was a big deal.
So, I decided to move in the frozen direction; a semifreddo would be a lovely and refreshing vehicle for the currants’ red, sprightly tartness. While there are various methods for making this frozen (or, technically, “half frozen”) dessert, they all involve softly whipped cream and stiffly beaten egg in some form or other. The air, fat, and sugars conspire to create a soft, toothsome frozen treat that–miracle of miracles–doesn’t even require an ice cream maker.
The below recipe is basically a fruit curd made with egg yolks and beaten till fluffy and cooled, then folded into some whipped cream and frozen. Lots of bowls and whisking involved, but really quite easy. And the result is very special too.