Meyer Lemon & Thyme Semifreddo Recipe

I love citrus season. Bright, sweet citrus is my savior during the peak of the winter season when I need a hit of color as much as the hit of vitamin C. This easy dessert celebrates the citrus season’s pinnacle, using Meyer Lemons to whip up a show-stopper dessert. Need a shortcut? Use store-bought lemon curd, and you’ll have less than 10 minutes of active prep time for a party in a pinch.

Meyer Lemons are a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin, they are magically floral with a sweet and sassy rind and juice that isn’t mouth-puckeringly tart. I like using them to make a Meyer Lemon Curd. Which I, in turn, make into an Italian Semifreddo with thyme. Bliss. 

Semifreddo literally means semi-frozen. As the name implies, it is frozen—but only part way and served still soft. I add some fresh thyme and a thyme simple syrup along with the Meyer Lemon Curd to the semifreddo—because the woodsy herb balances out the sweetness. Again, if you don’t have the time to make fresh Meyer Lemon Curd, please feel free to buy a jar store-bought. Your secret is safe with me.

Meyer Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • Zest from 1 Meyer Lemon
  • 3 Meyer Lemons
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), grated
  • 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk

Method

  1. Zest one Meyer Lemon. Pause here and inhale the fragrant floral scent. 
  2. Juice three Meyer Lemons, placing the juice and zest into a heat-proof bowl or the upper portion of a double boiler. Add sugar and butter to this mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and an additional yolk. For optimal smoothness in your curd, strain the beaten eggs through a fine strainer before proceeding.
  4. Add a few inches of water to a saucepan or the lower half of your double boiler and gently simmer over medium heat. Place your bowl with the lemon mixture atop the simmering water, ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper bowl and does not reach a full boil.
  5. The butter in your lemon mixture will begin to melt in a few minutes. Stir until the butter is fully melted and the sugar is dissolved.
  6. Gradually and with a steady hand, pour the whisked eggs into your heated lemon mixture, continuously whisking as you do so. Maintain your whisking until the entire concoction thickens and gels, taking approximately 5-10 minutes. However, this may vary depending on your altitude. Note that the mixture will continue to firm as it cools.
  7. Transfer the hot curd into a clean, warmed jar to prevent breakage (simply pour hot water into the jar and empty it just before adding the hot curd). Allow the curd to cool down to avoid trapping steam (which would subsequently condense and water down your curd) before sealing the jar.
  8. Once cool, seal the jar and store it in the refrigerator. Using a clean spoon for serving, your curd will remain good for up to two weeks.

Thyme Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar

Method

  1. Add the bunch of thyme and 1.5 cups of water to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer gently for 5 minutes. You are essentially making thyme tea. 
  2. Incorporate 1 cup of sugar into the pot, stirring to combine and increase the heat to high. Once the mixture of thyme, sugar and water reaches a boil and the sugar dissolves, promptly turn off the heat.
  3. Allow the thyme to steep in the simple syrup for 10 minutes to infuse its flavor. Then, strain the syrup to remove the thyme and any detached leaves, then let it cool to room temperature.

Meyer Lemon & Thyme Semifreddo

Ingredients

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup thyme simple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
    leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Meyer Lemon curd
    (or regular jarred lemon curd)
  • Optional: Candied Meyer lemon slices
  • Note: This recipe will only require a portion of the simple syrup. The surplus can be utilized in cocktails or as a sweetener for your coffee or tea. Stored in the fridge, it will remain fresh for up to 2 weeks.

Method

  1. Put a glass bowl into your freezer for 30 minutes to chill. This will help the cream whip much faster. A convenient tip: put the bowl in the freezer when making your Thyme Simple Syrup to optimize your prep time.
  2. Add the heavy whipping cream along with the simple syrup to the bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until the cream sets up and stiff peaks form in the whipped cream.
  3. Add the thyme leaves and lemon curd and gently fold in until well-mixed.
  4. Optional: Decorate the bottom of a loaf pan with slices of candied lemon—this will eventually be the top of your semifreddo.
  5. Pour the whipped cream mixture into the loaf pan, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and put in the freezer for about 3-4 hours—long enough for the semifreddo to set up and start to freeze, but not long enough for a hard freeze.
  6. To remove from the pan, immerse the base of the pan only in hot water for 10 seconds, then turn it upside down over a plate and give it a little shake. Serve in slices with fresh berries, a little lemon zest, or a dollop of lemon curd. 

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Lydia Martinez
Lydia Martinezhttp://www.saltlakemgazine.com
Lydia Martinez is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. She has written for Salt Lake Magazine, Suitcase Foodist, and Utah Stories. She is a reluctantly stationary nomad who mostly travels to eat great food. She is a sucker for anything made with lots of butter and has been known to stay in bed until someone brings her coffee. Do you have food news? Send tips to lydia@saltlakemagazine.com

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