this will do – sparkling peach semifreddo (gluten-free)

this will do – sparkling peach semifreddo (gluten-free)

Love maybe constant, but so is work. M and I have been incredibly busy with this summer and could not figure out how to celebrate our anniversary on the exact date. As a couple, we decided that we could work around this obstacle and toast our relationship when we could be together without distraction.

On our first date 15 years ago, M ordered a “fresh, homemade” lemonade in a cafe that turned out to be some kind of goo made from a sugary concentrate. I teased him about toasting our day with another round–he didn’t go for that idea. So last weekend, we went to a small but exquisite Japanese restaurant in the East Village for our belated celebration. (Sake, no lemonade.) Dinner was lovely but dessert was even better–because I made it for us.

This dessert says both summer and celebration–champagne semifreddo brings festive decadence, while the layer of summer best’s peach purée adds a vibrant freshness. To gild the lily, a healthy serving of boozy caramelized peaches crown the dish. This was a great ending to our dinner–maybe next year we’ll have time for a more elaborate celebration.

Sparkling Peach Semifreddo


Champagne Semifreddo
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup champagne
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Peach Pureé
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup (1-3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 pound peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
Caramelized Rum Peach Topping
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds peaches, peeled and cut into thick wedges
  • 2 tablespoon dark rum


Champagne Semifreddo

1. Whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup of the sugar and a pinch of the salt in medium heatproof bowl. Add champagne; cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into mixture, whisk to combine. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water. Whisk continuously until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from heat and place in an ice bath; cool to room temperature.

2. Place heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly add remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and whisk to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the cooled champagne mixture.

3. Spray a 4-1/2 x 8-1/2 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap into the corners of the pan. Gently spread half of the champagne cream into the loaf pan, smooth top with small off-set spatula. Place the pan in the freezer, about 1 hour. Refrigerate the remaining champagne cream.

Peach Pureé

1. Combine the water, sugar, peaches in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer and sugar has dissolved, about 10- 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool mixture to room temperature. (It can be made several days in advance and refrigerated.)

2. Place mixture in a food processor or blender, add lemon juice, salt and pureed. Strain the purée through a medium holed sieve. Spread strained purée evenly into the loaf pan over the frozen champagne cream. Freeze  until firm, about 45 minutes. Spread the remaining champagne cream on top. Freeze the semifreddo for several hours until hard. It can be made several days in advance.

Caramelized Rum Peach Topping

1. Melt butter in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat, sprinkle brown sugar and stir to combine. Cook until sugar starts to bubble and turn slightly golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

2. Add peaches and continue to cook until peaches are softened and liquid becomes syrupy, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in rum and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.


1. Remove semifreddo from freezer and invert the loaf pan onto a cutting board. Run a wet hot towel over the pan. Remove the pan. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap. Slice the semifreddo and place on a plate. Spoon caramelized peaches over the top and serve.