Semifreddo translates as “half frozen.”
But its literal moniker underplays the lush nature of this Italian spoon dessert.
I’d rather call it Fresco Com’una Nuvola–“Cool as a Cloud.”
Sort of a cross between a frozen soufflé and gelato, a semifreddo delivers the plush mouthfeel of frozen meringue with the luxurious richness of cream.
Why is semifreddo so dreamy? Because air is whipped into the egg whites and the cream prior to freezing. Gelato, on the other hand, is denser because air is whipped into the gelato base as it freezes. So, semifreddo results in a softer, more sensual sweet.
Semifreddo is so right for summer. It can be prepared hours or days in advance. Berries and peaches are its seasonal friends.
Italians like to play around with textural contrasts and frequently add layers of crumbled crisp cookies or chopped nuts between layers of semifreddo. Sauces are also a fun option. Caramel sauce with lemon or coffee. Chocolate sauce with raspberry or strawberry. You get the idea.
Make a semifreddo soon and you’ll be on nuvola numero nove.
Click here for information about egg cooking safety.
- 1/2 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus sugar for coating the dish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 egg, beaten (see note above)
- 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 pint raspberries
- Coat the inside of a 6-cup soufflé dish or other casserole with butter. Coat with granulated sugar. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, whisk 1/2 cup granulated sugar with cornstarch until blended. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and egg. Whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk briskly. Set aside to cool, whisking occasionally.
- In the large bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar. Whip until peaks hold their shape. Fold one-third of the cream into the lemon mixture. Fold the lemon mixture into the remaining cream. Spoon into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place in the freezer for 12 hours or up to 3 days.
- To serve, remove the semifreddo from the freezer and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Scoop onto dessert dishes. Serve with the raspberries.
Next time: Coffee Semifreddo