July is a month filled with wonderful memories of fun times with family and friends. Though we may not be quite back to our normal routine this summer, we still want to share some recipes that conjure up those memories of pool parties, patio dinners and family gatherings. These are delicious and refreshing desserts, perfect to enjoy on a steamy July day. We’ve also included some helpful tips for storing summer berries and other produce to keep your fruits and vegetables fresher longer.
ON THE MENU:
• White Chocolate Semifreddo with Fresh Summer Berries
• Strawberry Shortcake Whoopie Pies
Recipes by Tracey Koch
WHITE CHOCOLATE SEMIFREDDO WITH FRESH SUMMER BERRIES
A semifreddo is an Italian dessert that, translated, means “half cold.” It gets its name because of its unique creamy texture. It is similar to ice cream but, significantly, is not churned like ice cream. Rather, it is frozen in a metal loaf pan. There are many flavors you can choose from to make your semifreddo. We decided on high-quality white chocolate. The sweet, creamy, subtle flavor of the white chocolate pairs quite well with the fresh summer berry topping, making this an extremely easy but still special frozen dessert.
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch of salt
¼ cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
11-ounce bag white chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1. Set a double boiler over medium heat. Place the eggs, cornstarch, salt and sugar into the top of the boiler. Begin whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light in color.
2. Slowly pour in the milk. Continue to whisk until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the white chocolate chips and vanilla. Keep whisking until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow the mixture to cool. Cover and place it in the refrigerator to chill.
4. Line a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Make a level spot in your freezer to place the semifreddo once it is ready to freeze.
5. In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
6. Sprinkle in the sugar. Continue mixing until the whipped cream is nice and fluffy.
7. Remove the chilled white chocolate base from the refrigerator. Stir to make sure it is smooth.
8. Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate base until everything is incorporated. Pour the semifreddo into the prepared loaf pan and fold the plastic wrap over the top to cover. Place it into the freezer for several hours or overnight.
9. Once the semifreddo is completely frozen, carefully run a knife around the edges of the loaf pan and lift the plastic wrap to release it from the pan. Place onto a serving platter and top with mixed berries.
10. Use a serrated knife to cut the semifreddo into slices for serving.
Note: A semifreddo can also be frozen in silicone molds to make single servings. If using individual silicone molds, you do not need to line them with plastic wrap. Once the semifreddo is frozen in the molds, pop them out and place them in a single layer in freezer bags. Store them in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
FOR THE BERRY TOPPING
1 pint sliced strawberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
1⁄3 cup sugar
¼ cup red wine or port wine
1. Place the fresh berries in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the sugar and wine. Allow the berries to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE WHOOPIE PIES
Strawberry shortcakes are a quintessential summer dessert—and are deceptively easy to prepare. We decided to further simplify this recipe by converting it into a Strawberry Shortcake Whoopie Pie. The results are easier to transport and eat and don’t require a plate or fork. The shortcake has a hint of lemon and is not too sweet. The filling is creamy and delicious. Juicy fresh berries top it all off to make this a real crowd pleaser.
Servings: Yields 9-10 (3-inch) pies
FOR THE SHORTCAKE PIES
1 cup softened butter
1 1⁄3 cups sugar
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, salt and baking powder until well blended.
4. Turn the electric mixer back on and add the eggs and lemon zest to the butter mixture. Beat until smooth.
5. With the mixer still running, add in one-third of the flour mixture followed by one-third of the buttermilk. Continue adding the flour and buttermilk a little at a time, alternating between them and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix until everything is incorporated. The batter will be thick.
6. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to spread the dough out into 3- to 4-inch circles,
each 1/4-inch thick. Make sure to leave a couple of inches between each circle.
7. Bake the pies for 12-14 minutes or until they begin to turn golden around the edges.
8. Remove onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before filling.
FOR THE FILLING
1 stick softened butter
3 ounces softened cream cheese
3 ½ cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed dried and sliced
1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese for about 1 minute.
2. Turn the mixer on low and carefully add the powdered sugar.
3. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add in the cream and vanilla. Continue mixing until the filling is smooth.
1. Spread or pipe about 2 tablespoons of the filling on half of each pie.
2. Top each of these with a few slices of the strawberries.
3. Pipe or spread a teaspoon of filling on the remaining half of the pies. Place these on top of the ones with strawberries and press together.
4. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
Pro tip: If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. Add 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar or fresh lemon juice to
1 cup of whole or low-fat milk. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Stir gently, and the homemade buttermilk is ready to use.
Fresh summer berries are delicious, and they’ll stay fresher longer if you follow these tips. This process works well for other produce as well, including veggies.
1. Discard any bruised or damaged berries.
2. Rinse berries thoroughly with cold water and drain them well.
3. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place the drained berries in a single layer on the paper towel to air dry completely.
4. Once the berries are completely dry, place them into quart-size plastic freezer bags to be either refrigerated or frozen. (Note: Ensuring the produce you store is completely dry will help to keep them fresher longer in the fridge and freezer.)
This article was originally published in the July 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.