First and foremost: I badly wanted to share the news with you a week ago, when the email from Saveur arrived, but I was sworn to secrecy, and now that the word is finally out, I can write about it with enormous, gigantic, colossal, immense -- I am running out of words here -- amount of excitement and a great deal of feeling good about myself: Three Little Halves is a finalist in the 7th Annual SAVEUR Blog Awards, in the Best Photography Category! Million thanks to those who nominated me, and million thanks to the good folks at Saveur for the honor. Here is the announcement -- if you have a moment, please check out the finalists in all categories and cast a ballot for your favorites -- it does not take much and you have the powers to make someone very much over the moon.
What an OMG moment is was, getting that email from the Saveur folks. I stopped breathing for a couple seconds, and then I had an urge to actually shout my lungs out, except that I was in the office and was not quite sure that the professional world around me would understand. At home, we've celebrated with a decadent halva semifredo (one spoonful and you will be in 1001 nights haze) before packing our bags and disappearing to a remote corner of the world.
As you are reading this, I will be on a secluded beach in Croatia, with zero connectivity. No emails, no texts, barely any cell signal, and close to no phone. No supermarkets, no cafes, no restaurants, and close to zero people, except for a couple of folks I love dearly. It's the first time we are doing this, yes, we've gone remote, but no so remote, and electromagnetic waves always lingered around. So let's see how it goes. Stay tuned, if I survive, there will be a story about it on the blog.
In the mean time, happy August!!!
Halva Semifreddo with Candied Walnuts
* 6 eggs yolks, 3 egg whites
* 4 oz + 6 tbsp granulated sugar
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 8 tbsp milk
* 6 oz plain sesame halva
* 1 cup walnuts, cut in quarters
* 1/4 cup light agave syrup
* 1/8 tsp salt
First prepare candied walnuts. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (this one is to bake the walnuts). Line another baking sheet, chopping board or flat surface with parchment paper (you will arrange the walnuts on it to dry).
If agave syrup is too thick, pour the syrup into a small metal bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan with small amount of boiling water for about a minute. This will make the agave syrup easier to work with. Remove the bowl from the heat. Add walnuts to the syrup and toss them until all walnuts are fully coated with syrup. Spread the walnuts on the baking sheet in a single layer. (If there is any agave syrup left in the bowl, do not poor it into the pan -- it should be walnuts only without any syrup around.) Toast in the oven for about 12-15 minutes, checking and stirring once or twice with a wooden spoon. When done, walnuts should be fragrant and golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven. Once the walnuts are cool enough to be touched, slowly begin to separate the walnuts from the parchment and place on the prepared surface to fully cool. Once the walnuts are completely cool they should have a hard shell and nice crunch.
Make the semifreddo: Separate the yolks and whites. Reserve three whites for another use. In a mixer, blender or food processor, mix the egg yolks and 4 ounces of sugar until they become creamy, pale and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla and milk and mix until fully incorporated. Cook in a double boiler (or in a heavy saucepan over a very low heat) stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160ºF (or for about five minutes, until the mixture triples in volume and coats a metal spoon). Let the mixture cool completely before proceeding with the recipe.
Whisk the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into sugar-egg yolk mixture. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the remaining six tablespoons of sugar, and continue to beat until close to hard peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the semifreddo mixture.
Crumble the halva gently into roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Add the halva and pecans to the semifreddo mixture and mix gently. Pour the mixture into a container, cover tightly, and freeze for several hours or overnight to set.
The semifreddo will keep for about two days tightly sealed in the freezer.