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Gianduja is the sweet chocolate specialty of Turin, in the Piemonte Region of Italy. It has loads of hazelnuts and is really delicious. I have recreated it in this semifreddo and promise that it will make you feel like you are in the heart of Piemonte!
Serves 6 to 8
3/4 cup whole hazelnuts6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated6 amaretti cookies, crumbled5 large eggs, separated1 cup sugar2 cups heavy cream
Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake until the skins start to crack, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, place in a rough terry cloth towel and rub to remove the skins. If some skin remains, repeat. It is fine if a little of the skin remains. Chop the hazelnuts until finely ground. Alternately they can be finely ground in a food processor being careful not to make them into hazelnut butter.
In a bowl, combine the hazelnuts, chocolate and amaretto cookies.
Line a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap.
In an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with ½ cup of the sugar until the mixture is a stiff ribbon. In another bowl, with a clean beater, beat the egg whites until soft peaks are formed. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks are formed. Finally, beat the heavy cream in a third bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites. Fold in the heavy cream.
Spoon one-third of the egg/cream mixture in the prepared pan. Spread to distribute evenly. Distribute half of the hazelnut/chocolate mixture evenly over the egg/cream mixture. Repeat with the egg/cream mixture and then the hazelnut/chocolate mixture. Finally top with the egg cream mixture. Smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with plastic and freeze for several hours or overnight.
To serve, invert the pan onto a platter. Remove the plastic wrap. Cut into thick slices and serve.
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