Surprise Mom — if you can — with this elegant but kid-friendly dessert for Mother’s Day.
This treat, from our book COOKish, which limits recipes to just six ingredients without sacrificing flavour, takes just 20 minutes and can be tucked into the back of the freezer up to a week in advance.
It combines Italian semifreddo with a layered pudding popular in Portugal and its former colony Macau.
Called serradura, which translates as “sawdust,” the traditional pudding layers pulverized Marie biscuits and whipped cream sweetened with condensed milk.
We elevate the dish by opening a can of mandarin oranges and chopping them to fold into the cream.
For additional texture, we keep the biscuits mostly whole and layer them in a pan with the fruit-studded cream. After freezing, the dessert is cut into slices that reveal a mosaic-like design.
To serve, invert it onto a platter or slice it directly in the pan; if too firm to cut, let it soften for a few minutes at room temperature.
If you can’t find Marie biscuits, shortbread cookies are a good substitute. Even graham crackers could work, though they won’t have the same texture.
Regardless, this frozen sweet looks impressive but is a breeze to make.
Semifreddo with Mandarin Oranges and Biscuits
Start to finish: 20 minutes, plus freezing
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
23 1/2 -ounce container mandarin orange segments packed in juice, drained and roughly chopped (2 cups)
2 tbsps Grand Marnier OR amaretto OR bourbon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
5- to 7-ounce package Marie biscuits
Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving 3-inch overhang on each long side. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream and condensed milk to stiff peaks. Fold in the oranges, Grand Marnier, vanilla and salt.
Place a layer of the cookies in the bottom of the pan, breaking them to fit, then spread with a third of the cream mixture. Repeat the layering 2 more times. Press the plastic-wrap overhang directly against the surface, then freeze for at least 2 hours or up to 1 week. To serve, cut into slices.
By Christopher Kimball