Christmas walnut semifreddo

Serves 6

Walnut and Cherry Brownie Base

Walnut Semifreddo100 gms walnuts
300 gms cherries pitted and halved
165 gms all-purpose flour
130 gms + 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
265 gms dark chocolate, chopped
150 gms unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch salt

Put the pitted cherries and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small pan and toss well to combine.

Roast the cherries in a preheated oven at 230°C for 10 minutes, or until they begin to release their juices. Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 175°C.

Line a 20x30cm baking pan with baking paper. To make sure the baking paper covers the full area of the pan, wet it completely and squeeze the water out.

This way, it will become pliable and easier to work with.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Fold in the walnuts and set aside to cool down.

In a bowl, combine the eggs, the remaining sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until well combined.

Add the warm chocolate mixture and stir until incorporated. Then add the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Gently fold in the roasted cherries.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread it with a spatula to make an even layer.

Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it (this will take approximately 35 minutes). Let the brownies cool down completely inside the pan (this will take about 2 hours). Remove the brownies from the pan and cut into 6 rounds of 7cm with a cookie cutter. Store in an air-tight container.

Cherry Compote

400 gms cherries pitted and halved
95 ml Maraschino liqueur or Brandy or orange juice
40 gms granulated sugar

Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the cherries are softened and start to release their juices (this will take about 10 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a medium bowl.

Simmer the juices until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (this will take about 15-20 minutes). Pour the reduced syrup over the cherries. Let the compote cool down, then refrigerate until ready to assemble the dish.

Walnut and Cherry Bark

450 gms dark chocolate chopped
85 gms walnuts, toasted and cooled
1/3 cup candied cherries, roughly chopped
50 gms crunchy salted caramel chocolate, chopped

Toast the walnuts in the oven at 210°C for about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir them a couple of times, so they don’t get burnt. Let them cool down. Line a 20x30cm cookie sheet with baking paper and keep it aside. In a double boiler, melt the chopped chocolate. When melted, quickly pour into the lined cookie sheet and spread evenly. Add the toasted walnuts, chopped candied cherries, and chopped crunchy salted caramel chocolate on the top. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or until firm.

Cut into shards.

Walnut Semifreddo

120 gms walnuts
150 gms granulated sugar
300 ml cream to be whipped with 2 tbsp icing sugar
5 egg yolks
125 ml water

Toast the walnuts in the oven at 210°C for about 10 minutes. Make sure to stir them a couple of times, so they don’t get burnt. Let them cool down completely, then use a mixer reduce them into a coarse powder. Put the water and sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil and let this syrup simmer for 5 minutes. Let it cool down. In the meantime, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until white and fluffy. Slowly add the lukewarm syrup while whisking. Transfer the mixture into a pot and cook in a double boiler for 10 minutes. Let it cool down. Whip the cream with the icing sugar and keep aside. When the egg and syrup mixture is cold, gently fold in the whipped cream and the minced toasted walnuts. Pour the mixture into 6 spherical moulds of 7cm in diameter. Keep them in the freezer overnight.

Serving Suggestions
Serve the Walnut Semifreddo on top of the Walnut and Cherry Brownie bases. Drizzle with the Cherry Compote and top with some Walnut and Cherry Bark shards. You can also dip some fresh cherries in melted dark chocolate and roll them in crushed walnuts and use as decorations.

Serve immediately.

Serves: 6

Walnuts contain antioxidants

Walnuts are low in sodium and contain potassium

Walnuts are a source of plant protein

Walnuts contain plant omega 3

Walnuts are a source of plant protein