SERVES 8 TO 10
Torrone is a nougat confection made from egg whites, sugar, and nuts found throughout Italy. Little blue boxes of the sweet could always be found in our shoes on December 6, the feast of San Nicola ("Saint Nicholas").
Originally made in Cremona, in Lombardy, legend has it that, in 1441 at the wedding feast of Francesco Sforza to Bianca Maria Visconti, a sweet was made and fashioned into the shape of the famous and grand Cremona Torrione ("Tower of Cremona"), from which torrone derives its name.
Though torrone is usually eaten like candy, this recipe transforms the chewy nougat into festive frozen dessert, a perfect ending to an elegant summer meal. For best results, chill the bowl and beaters for whipping the cream. Amarena cherries are available in Italian specialty stores. Make this a day ahead of serving.
7 ounces torrone, chopped into small uniform pieces
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
3 tablespoons cognac
1/2 cup Amarena cherries from a 21-ounce jar, with liquid
Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving about a 2-inch overhang. Place half the torrone in the base of the pan and set aside.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the yolks with the sugar until light colored and doubled in volume.
In a separate chilled bowl, beat the cream until stiff. Add the cream to the egg mixture, folding it in gently along with the cognac.
Place half the mixture in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle on the remaining torrone and add the remaining cream mixture, smoothing the top. Cover tightly with another piece of plastic wrap, then foil. Place the mold in the freezer overnight.
An hour before serving, place a serving dish in the refrigerator to chill.
When ready to serve, remove the foil and plastic wrap from the top of the pan. Loosen the semifreddo slightly by pulling carefully on the extended ends of the overhanging plastic wrap. Turn the pan upside down onto the cold serving dish and carefully unmold. Remove the remaining plastic wrap. Let the semifreddo stand 5 minutes before cutting.
To serve, cut the semifreddo into slices using a knife dipped in warm water. Spoon some of the cherries and their liquid over the top of each slice and serve immediately.
Note: You can also spoon the mixture into a bowl instead of a mold before freezing. Scoop it out like ice cream to serve.
Variation: Try strawberries in syrup as a topping instead of the cherries.
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