Since the success of the Grace Cheetham ginger biscuits, Sophia has been on at me to ‘make something else’. So much so that when we were packing on Saturday for our half term holiday at the seaside at Nana’s house, Sophia actually packed the book – Simply Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free – in her trunki, so I wouldn’t forget!
We have had a lovely holiday, but the weather started to turn yesterday afternoon, so she decided it was time we did some cooking. She chose the chocolate semifreddo (looks stunning in the book, page 172) and I am very glad she did. First of all, there is no baking involved – which is always a result. Like me, Sophia likes chocolate and also like me, she loses interest very quickly in any recipe with too many ingredients or steps. So this had many attractions.
The first thing we had to do was make sure we had the ingredients – we did, but not quite enough, so I decided to half the amounts of everything and just make a little one to start with. So many times, I have made something new for Zac to try and he pulls a face after the first bite and most goes to waste. As we were dealing with top quality chocolate here, and we did have other non dairy-free desserts at the ready for the rest of the family, I didn’t think it mattered if we just made him a small one to start with.
In Grace’s recipe she uses the following:
300g dairy free dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids)
100g clear honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
500ml soya cream
2 tbsp cornflour (mixed with 2 tbsp water)
It makes enough for 8-10 people, so I used half the quantities and had plenty for four hungry, greedy chocoholics.
The dark dairy free chocolate is always easy enough to find and we just had a small carton of the Alpro soya ‘cream’. I didn’t have any honey, so used agave syrup instead. Both are quite similar tasting in my opinion and I couldn’t see how it would be a problem, so in it went!
The method was beautifully simple. Break up the chocolate – you can tell it is good quality by the very satisfying ‘snap’. Melt the chocolate pieces slowly in a bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, stirring all the time. Once melted add the honey/syrup and vanilla. Mix well and take it off the heat.
In another pan gently heat the cream until it starts to bubble. In a small beaker or glass add the water to the cornflour until you have a cloudy looking mixture and add that to the heated cream, whisking in until the mixture thickens. This happened relatively quickly. Then take the thickened cream off the heat and add to the chocolate. It all looked like a big bowl of chocolate custard and smelled incredible.
I lined a silicone ‘loaf’ tin/mould type thing with lots of cling film and poured in the mixture. Once it was all in, I folded the cling film over to cover it all and then put it in the freezer. Three hours later it was ready. We’d had a lovely roast dinner with my parents and were all looking forward to some nice chocolatey desserts that my Mum had bought. I told Zac I’d made him a special one and his face was a picture as I brought it to the table and unwrapped it from the clingfilm for the big ‘reveal’.
I cut him a slice, decorated with a few extra dairy free chocolate savings and passed it over – minutes later it was gone. I can’t remember the last time I made something that he ate with such gusto and speed. We were all seduced by the look of it – a slightly melted chocolate ice cream and so we all dived in – just to see if it was as good as it looked and as nice and he seemed to find it. I am happy to say it was universal hit and if I hadn’t told the rest it was a dairy free, gluten free dessert they would never have known.
It was so good tasting and good looking that I reckon you could serve it at a dinner party or kids party or any old party really and people would be very impressed. In fact, it made our shop bought desserts taste a little less special afterwards – I guess that is because the quality of the chocolate in the semi-freddo is almost certainly higher – or perhaps dairy free, gluten free food sometimes does just taste better! Anyhow, I WILL be making this one again.
Just one thing I need to check out – how long does it keep in the freezer? As it is a bit like ice cream, does it have a long life? Or does it need to be treated more like a fresh dessert and eaten in a few days. I will check with Grace and let you know. But to be honest, I can’t see it ‘surviving’ another day anyway.