When I was a kid, every few summers I got to head “back east”, as we say, and spend a couple of weeks with my grandparents at their summer home in the Laurentians, north of Montréal. It’s this beautiful old place – well over one hundred years old, now – and it has this amazing veranda looking out over the lake where we would usually sit and eat breakfast.
Québec gets amazing summer produce, home grown or from Ontario. Wild blueberries, delicious corn, and the juiciest, most delectable peaches I have ever eaten. One breakfast I fondly remember and was a real treat, made by my Pops: buttered toast, mounded with a huge pile of peach slices, and maple syrup. Peaches and maple syrup go together like peas in a pod.
Today, summer returned after abnormally wet weather in Calgary, so I am celebrating with maple syrup and peaches conjured into a semifreddo. Please join me.
Maple Peach Semifreddo
Time: 30 mins, then at least 4+ hours to freeze
Intense maple syrup flavour with ribbons of peach preserves scattered throughout.
Lightly adapted from Susan McKenna Grant’s Piano Piano Pieno: Authentic Food From a Tuscan Farm (2006)
- 2 peaches
- 1/3 c sugar
- pinch of salt
- butter for greasing
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 c. maple syrup
- 1 c whipping or heavy cream
- Slice peaches into a heavy bottomed pan, add the sugar, and cook on medium/medium-high heat. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, put the egg yolks into your mixer and begin to beat, slowly adding the maple syrup to incorporate. Mix until colour lightens and the mixture is light and fluffy. Transfer to another mixing bowl.
- Check on peaches, mash with a potato masher if soft enough.
- Beat cream to soft peaks.
- Gently fold together the two: egg/maple mixture & cream. Put in an 8″ x 8″ pan.
- When the peaches are as thick as preserves (or jam), using a spatula, scrape them into a buttered pan (I used a 9″ pie plate), to form a fairly thin layer so that they cool off quickly. Pop in fridge when you are confident the temperature difference won’t crack your pan! Let cool for 10-15 mins.
- Scrape the peaches into the semifreddo base, using a spoon, gently incorporate by scooping blobs of peach preserve and moving them to a non-peachy part – whatever you need to do to get some peachy sections in your semifreddo without mixing it thoroughly!
- Cover with an Abeego or similar and freeze, preferably in a deep freeze, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
This recipe is adapted from one of my all time favourite cookbooks. Period. If you ever need to get a foodie friend a gift, track down this one: it seems to be relatively obscure so, chances are, they don’t have it, and they will love it. Once upon a time, I worked in silviculture (forestry) in northern British Columbia and used to buy cookbooks at an amazing little bookstore on the main street in Smithers. I would read these cookbooks at night in my tent and get all wrapped up in the food, stories, and knowledge and as soon as I got back to a real kitchen I was inspired to create and feed family and friends. This particular book has really stuck with me as I read it – no, devoured it, cover to cover and have been thinking of doing so again, much like a good novel. I am still in search of a copy of her second book, Dinamica, hint hint, nudge nudge.
Semifreddo is akin to ice cream, with the word itself translating to “half frozen”, so it can be described more like a frozen mousse, I suppose. In my experience, if you freeze it long enough in a deep freeze, it can get quite ice cream like in consistency, if that is what you prefer. Whatever you do, serve this in small quantities (i.e. one small ball) as it is very sweet and quite rich, what with all of the the maple syrup, egg yolks, and cream.
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