Monday, September 29, 2014

Coffee Tortoni





There is a point in your life when you make the same dish over and over again, it is no longer delectable to your palate. I have been making coffee tortoni for almost 40 years. A family favorite, the recipe comes from my mum's  Better Homes & Garden dessert cookbook from the 1970's. In my youth I was left in charge of dessert. Hence this easy version of frozen coffee and cream was a snap! Now all desire to eat this has long since evaporated. Sadly, it's only me who has tired of it. Everyone else laps it up. Consumes heaped bowlfuls of creamy fluff with gusto and relish. So I continue to oblige.

One such attempt results in the glass bowl slipping out of my hands as I remove it from the freezer. It falls to the linoleum floor and shatters. Coffee tortoni splatters in semi circle around the fridge. Geets and I watch in horror. Some dessert stays in the partially intact portion of the bowl. We agonize about the merits of rescuing some part of the dessert. John seconds that notion heartily. After all this has been steadfastly been his favorite. I hesitantly scoop some into another container. I spoon some into a bowl for John with many reservations. He eats several spoonfuls, savoring the flavors. Then I see him making a face. Scrunching his mouth. He puts a finger to his lips and removes a shard of glass. And another. And another. All the while blissfully continuing to eat spoonfuls!!! I apologise profusely. Apology accepted, he is determined not to waste any. Such is the power of this dessert!!!

Like all things that are not so good for you, this one is an amalgam of eggs, cream and sugar!! It assembles in a jiffy. Eggs get separated. Whites are beaten till fluffy. Cream is beaten into soft pillows. Granules of coffee leave brown trails on white. I add pan-roasted almonds and coconut. A quick fold and into the freezer it goes.

COFFEE TORTONI
Serves 4-6

2 Egg Whites at room temperature
4 tablespoons Sugar
2 cups Cream
4 tablespoon instant Coffee granules
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup sliced Almonds
1/4 cup desiccated Coconut


Place a pan over medium heat and dry roast almond slices till they are toasty and brown. Watch carefully as they brown real fast. Remove from pan and spread on a plate to cool.

Dry roast desiccated coconut in the same fashion and add to almonds on plate. Let coconut cool.

Mix almonds and coconut together.



Beat egg whites with a hand-held electric mixer till soft peaks form.



Add 4 tablespoons of sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.



Put the bowl into the freezer till you are ready to fold into the cream.

Do not wash the mixer blades.

Pour cream into a large mixing bowl, preferably one with deep sides. The cream will splatter when you start whipping so a deep sided bowl will minimize splatter!

Whisk cream using the same mixer blades till the cream is thick for about 2-3 minutes. Ideally, it should stay on the spatula and not slide off.








Add coffee granules, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar. Gently fold in to distribute.



Remove egg whites from freezer and fold gently into cream. Do this carefully as you do not want to lose that puffy texture. The less you fold, the airier the frozen dessert will be.






Fold 1/2 of the almond coconut mixture to cream.




Spoon into a glass dish. 

Sprinkle remaining almonds and coconut over mixture.

Cover with cling film and freeze for 3-4 hours till firm.








Serve cold.



I must confess I have made this dessert twice in the past three days. Even as the first bowl is thoroughly scraped I set about making the second helping. This too will disappear without much ado. I bring the frosty bowl for my guests. Spoons slide easily into soft fluffy portions. A strong coffee flavor pervades. Toasted almonds and coconut flakes make for nice crunch. We debate the virtues of tortoni vs ice cream as I refer to desert as ice cream. My mistake. It isn't. No churning involved. No egg yolks. So I hesitantly call it a semifreddo. This too isn't quite right. So coffee tortoni it is. Who am I to change four decades of perfection?