Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on October 10, 2013

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls Whenever I begin to think about creating a new recipe I think about it a lot. Sometimes the recipe consumes my mind for a matter of weeks, but with others it could be a matter of months.

When I attended the Fancy Food Show in NYC last June, one of the trendy new items that everyone was swooning over was flavored balsamic vinegars. You may be surprised to know that these delicious and innovative spinoffs of our beloved, aged balsamic vinegars that we have enjoyed in vinaigrettes over our salads are now being used more often in desserts. Clever bakers are using them in their fruited pies and others are making syrup to glaze delicious cakes.
After getting back from the show, I was inspired to create a few unique recipes. With a lovely Indian summer upon us and the availability of some deliciously ripe strawberries, I wanted to create some kind of ice cream featuring the classic combination of strawberries and balsamic vinegar…

I had never worked with balsamic vinegar in a dessert before, and although it is milder than other vinegars, the tang remains as you reduce the vinegar. I was thinking of making a toffee sauce, but had no idea if it would work or even taste good in this type of application…

I could not find a recipe or thread that was discussing using balsamic vinegar to make toffee, so it seemed as though I was on my own with this one.

I decided that the classic combination was going to become a strawberry semifreddo with balsamic toffee swirls. The problem with strawberry ice cream is that if it is not made with a good amount of fat, it can taste more like ice milk. I wanted this to be something really rich and creamy, and have the accompanying balsamic toffee swirls to simply round out the flavor. To accomplish this, I decided to use a little mascarpone cheese. This cheese is perfect to use in these types of applications, because it is flavorless and simply adds to the smoothness and creaminess of the product.

I wanted a lovely pink strawberry color to the semifreddo, so I decided to make a compote/sauce and I used some beautiful organic strawberries plus some of my favorite strawberry jam. Make sure to cook it as long as you can and reduce it to a thick jam consistency to remove as much water as possible. In an application like this, dehydrated strawberries would work even better if you have them on hand, because the extra water in the fresh strawberries creates ice, which is not what you want. I folded this jammy compote into the custard base. My idea sounded lovely before I put it all  together, and I am happy to say that it turned out to be  a delicious and very unique and creamy semifreddo flavor combination.  The toffee was subtly tangy but also offered a delicious deep caramel flavor…it was even more delicious than I had even guessed it would be.  

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo (6-8 people)
12 yolks
½ cup powdered sugar
2 ½ cups heavy cream
8 oz mascarpone cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
1 recipe strawberry compote sauce (see below)
1 recipe balsamic vinegar  toffee sauce (see below)

First, make the toffee and the strawberry compote by following the recipes below, and allow them to cool completely before beginning your ice cream.
When you are ready to make the semifreddo, add the whipped cream and ½ cup of sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer and mix until it is at soft peak. At this point, add in the softened mascarpone cheese and let the cream whip the rest of the way. Be careful not to over whip. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. Next, follow the directions to make the semifreddo ice cream here.    

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Once you get to the point where the egg yolk has been whipped and is now cool, add the strawberry compote and mix this in well with the yolks.

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Next, fold in the whipped cream/mascarpone mixture in 2 additions, until all of the cream is well incorporated.

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Pour one third of this strawberry ice cream into your storage container and drizzle with one third of the cooled balsamic toffee mixture. Repeat with the rest and end up with the toffee on top, then use a spoon to swirl it all in together. Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Compote Sauce
1 cup strawberry puree
1 cup roughly chopped strawberries
1 cup of your favorite strawberry jam
½ cup corn syrup   

Puree enough strawberries to get 1 cup and then rough chop another cup of strawberries. Add this to a small stock pot with the half cup of corn syrup plus the 1 cup pf strawberry jam and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until it has thickened and reduced by half, about 30 minutes. You know that it is ready when you see the mixture has thickened and you see less water vapor coming off the surface of the sauce. You will also see it forming larger bubbles, which lets you know it is getting thicker. Cooking out as much water as you can at this point will prevent ice formation in the ice cream itself, and adding corn syrup instead of granulated sugar will further help this from happening. You know that it is ready when it is thick and has taken on a deeper red color as it has reduced.

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

IStrawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Sauce
2/3 cup good quality balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1½ cup heavy cream

Add the 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar along with the sugar to a small pot and cook on moderate heat until the syrup will begin to bubble. You will smell the vinegar in the evaporation and as it begins to bubble slower and slower it will be hard to tell when it begins to turn to caramel because it is so dark to begin with. When you see the bubbles starting to slow after a few minutes add half of the heavy cream and stir with a wooden spoon. The color won’t change too much but it will loosen the syrup a little and bubble up. Make sure to put it back on the stove and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes until you see large bubbles forming again slowly.  At this point, add the rest of the cream. Cook on the stove for another few minutes and then remove from the heat and allow it to cool completely. This will be a thinner toffee, more like a caramel sauce, which will be perfect for the ice cream and not end up as hard pieces of toffee once it has frozen.

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

Strawberry Mascarpone Semifreddo With Balsamic Vinegar Toffee Swirls

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