Memory is an unreliable thing. For years, I was convinced that this recipe originated with Claudia Roden, and came from her ' Food of Italy' - it was faxed to me by a friend as a post-dinner-party thank you, many years ago, and the sheet of faxed paper was used repeatedly over the years until the letters had faded to indecipherability, and the detail had anyway been mentally filed away as the inevitable result of such regular use. When it came to stocking the library shelves in Italy, when we first came here, a copy of the original 'Food of Italy' seemed like a good idea, since I'd so much liked the one thing that I knew came from it. Except that I then found that it hadn't. There is a recipe in its pages not a million miles different from the one I had in mind - but with the crucial difference that Ms Roden's didn't use Crème de Cacao - which absolutely makes the recipe, IMHO.
This was a staple on my catering menus for quite a few years, when I generally served it with chocolate-dipped bruta ma buona biscuits. Simple, straightforward, sophisticated, and delicious!
Ingredients: 4 oz blanched Almonds; 3 oz granulated Sugar; 1 pint of Cream; 2 Eggs; 3.5 oz of Icing Sugar; 2 tablespoons of Crème de Cacao.
1. Make a Praline: toast the Almonds in a small pan over medium heat until they begin to colour, then add the granulated Sugar and raise the temperature slightly. Stir continuously as the sugar first melts, then bubbles, then colours as it caramelises. As soon as it is a rich golden colour, pour the mixture out onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and leave it for a few minutes to go crisp. After several minutes, it should be possible to pick it off the sheet in one slab; at this point, break it roughly into a number of pieces so that you can fit it into the food processor, where you should process it until it has broken down into a fine powder.
2. Whisk the Cream until it is thick.
3. Beat the Egg Yolks with a third of the Icing Sugar, then beat the Whites with the remaining Sugar to make a meringue mixture.
4. Fold first the Egg Yolk mixture then the meringue mixture into the whipped Cream, then fold in the praline, and finally the Crème de Cacao.
5. Transfer the mixture to a terrine mould, and freeze it for at least 24 hours. Remove the semifreddo from the freezer and leave it in the fridge for 15 - 20 minutes before serving.