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Herbal Semifreddo for the New Queen

By Lindsey Duncan in Issue Ten, August 2023


4 measures cream
1 hand sugar
3 fireswan egg yolks (can substitute 7 common hen’s egg yolks)
2 snips lavender
2 snips aurora root
2 snips fairybell flowers
3 drops fenimyre extract (sorcery purified)
3 sprinkles salt


Begin in the morning. Prepare and line pan with baking cloth. It must be wholly smooth: any bubble or crease will imprint upon the semifreddo. Everything must be perfect for the new queen.

Using a firm hand, whisk the cream into high peaks. Reserve in ice storage until needed.

Whisk together remaining ingredients in a shallow bowl, adding fenimyre last. Take care the kitchen servants do not see this addition. The new queen has many servants on her payroll; they are her spies.

Heat a pot of water to just under a boil and place the bowl atop. Whisk continuously to avoid curdling. By now, the kitchen will bustle with preparations: the king has ordered a feast to celebrate his unborn heir. He expects a boy, the gods’ apology for the daughter he disowned.

Cook the mixture until it lightens and thickens. Do not taste test.

Remove from heat and whisk rapidly. This would be a job for servants, but today, it is yours. We have all been banished from our former lives. At least we keep breathing, unlike my mother. I still wear her amulet, protection against the world.

The new queen arranged the charges of witchcraft against my mother. She has no idea how close she was to the truth.

Continue whisking the mixture until it has cooled and doubled in size. With gentle hand, fold in a portion of the cream. Fold in the rest until the color becomes a single jewel tone. A soft touch is crucial: it keeps the semifreddo light and voluminous. We will delight her tongue before she discovers its true purpose.

Fill pan, fold ends of the baking cloth over top, and place in deep ice to freeze. This will take most of the day. Be patient. The others will do their parts.

At a quarter bell before the final course is served, take the semifreddo out and unfold the top cloth. Turn out onto a platter and peel away the cloth. Garnish as desired.

You must take it out yourself. Insist that it is for no one but the queen. She must partake before the end of the dessert course.

The ice wine, you see, is poisoned, and fenimyre is the antidote. The poison is swift and fatal; no one who drinks it will survive. When the new queen appears to have made corpses of her court, she will not be queen for long.

A heated knife will cut the semifreddo into slices.


© 2023 Lindsey Duncan

Lindsey Duncan

LINDSEY DUNCAN is a chef / pastry chef (CPC CSW), professional Celtic harp performer and life-long writer, with short fiction and poetry in numerous speculative fiction publications. Her science fiction novel, Scylla and Charybdis, is available from Grimbold Books. She feels that music and language are inextricably linked. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and can be found on the web at http://www.LindseyDuncan.com.

Fiction by Lindsey Duncan
  • Herbal Semifreddo for the New Queen