Mango Semifreddo with Chocolate Chilli Ganache

You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?  Chocolate.  Chilli.  Mango.  Together.  The stuff of legend.  I kid you not.

It was my birthday last weekend and so I made something to serve with my birthday cake.  Remember I had that lovely Perbellini Pandoro tucked away since just before Christmas?  What better to go with it on a hot summer night than a rich luscious mango ice cream, smothered in dark chocolate ganache, and a little surprise kick to the taste buds?  Of course, you don’t need the pandoro.  That was my birthday cake.  Awesome birthday cake.  But I bought that.  Made by lovely gentlemen in the town of Bovolone near Verona.  I really want to meet them to say thank you and maybe learn how they make it … 🙂  Maybe if I get to Italy this year, here’s hoping.

The semifreddo and ganache makes a beautiful dessert on its own.  Come to think of it, you could do the Italian thing of hollowing out a pandoro and filling it with the semifreddo.  Spectacular.

I’ve included the chilli as optional in the ganache.  My personal preference is to use finely ground dried Habaneros but that’s not to everyone’s taste.  They are seriously hot.  I’ve indicated cayenne in the recipe as this is what I used in deference to my family not having the resilience to face the Habs.   Start with a little of the chilli and add a little more if you like.  We’re not making a vindaloo here so the idea is to create a pleasant warmth at the end that complements the cool semifreddo.

I like to think of it as my signature ice cream.  Of course.  *shrug*  Happy Birthday to me 😉

Serves 8

Mango Semifreddo
120 grams sugar
60 millilitres water
4 egg yolks
500 millilitres heavy cream, chilled
1 large or 2 small mangoes, flesh only

Chocolate Chilli Ganache
100 grams dark chocolate
pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)
200 millilitres cream (35% milk fat, not thickened)

cayenne powder or dried chilli flakes to decorate (optional)

Mango Semifreddo
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over a low-medium heat.  Let the sugar dissolve and bring to the boil.  Do not stir.  Place the egg yolks in a bowl nearby.  (Retain the egg whites to use for another purpose).  When the syrup has begun to boil watch it carefully.  Insert the candy thermometer in the syrup and wait until it reaches 100℃ (30° Baumé).   Beat the egg yolks until light and keep beating as you pour the syrup into the egg yolks in a thin and steady stream.  Beat the yolk and syrup mixture until light and doubled and it has the consistency to form a ribbon.  Cover and let cool in the refrigerator.

Make sure to use a sweet and fibre free mango for this.  If the flavour is a bit off, it will be noticeable and ruin the semifreddo.  Likewise, stringy mangoes need to be sieved and the resulting puree can have a watery consistency.  Avoid stringy mangoes.  Puree the mango flesh and set aside.

Using a hand-held whisk, gently whisk the cream until it forms soft peaks.  Add the mango puree, and whisk until smooth and lightly thickened.  Fold in the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated.

At this point you can pour the semifreddo into a large lined mould or individual (silicone) moulds for serving.  Alternatively, if you intend to serve the semifreddo in scoops, just pour into an airtight container.  Place in the freezer to set.  It’s best to make the semifreddo at least 6 hours ahead or the day before.  It will keep for several days in the freezer, if you have leftovers.

Chocolate Chilli Ganache
Grate or chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.  Add the sea salt and the cayenne powder.  Normally, I’d use a 70% – 85% cacao couverture for the ganache.  This time, I used Willie’s Cacao 100% Venezuelan Black.  Because I used 100% cacao, I added 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to the ganache, before adding the cream to the chocolate.  That was just to offset the intensity without making it sweet per se.  It was perfect.  There is no need for the maple syrup if you use anything less than 100% cacao chocolate.

Heat the cream in a saucepan over a low-medium heat until it reaches the boil.  Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let it sit for 30 seconds and then stir until the ganache is smooth.  Let it cool and then taste it to check if you have enough chilli for your taste.  Always start with less than you think you need. 

You can always add more but you cannot remove it once it’s in!

If making ahead of time, you can store the ganache in the refrigerator.  To serve, gently melt it in the microwave at 30% power for about 5 – 10 seconds.

To serve, simply scoop or unmold the semifreddo and surround it with, or pour over, the ganache.  If you’re like me and love your chilli, sprinkle a few dried chilli flakes or cayenne powder on top for a little added heat and presentation.

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