Semifreddo

Semi freddo means half frozen in Italian. It’s a pretty good description of this dessert, which lives in the freezer, but gets soft within a few minutes at room temperature. It’s not ice cream. It’s a sabayon folded into whipped cream, then frozen.

I’ve actually made this dessert three times before. Horrors. I know. I usually make something new when I have an excuse to make a dessert for company. But this semifreddo is so good that sometimes I need to make it because I know how delicious it is.

This version uses dried cranberries and crystallized ginger, and is served with a berry sauce. But I’ve also made a pumpkin version that was incredible. In fact, I could probably make one a month, using whatever is in season – think strawberry, cherry, cranberry, citrus, etc… Semifreddo of the month club!

This dessert is very easy although it does take time. Fortunately, it should be made the day before, and taken out of the freezer before slicing and serving.

If you’ve never made a semifreddo, it’s time you did!!! It’s delicious and elegant.

Semifreddo with Dried Cranberries and Crystallized Ginger

2 3/4 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup white wine, I used a Riesling
2/3 cups white sugar
Zest of one large orange
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup crystallized ginger

Whip the cream until firm peaks form. Refrigerate until needed.

Place plastic wrap going both directions in a large loaf pan, with plenty hanging over. My pan is 9″ long, and 6″ deep.

semi16

Have the orange zest handy, as well as the dried cranberries and ginger.

Place a large pot of water on the stove on simmer. Then place the egg yolks, wine, and sugar in your mixing bowl.

Beat the three ingredients until nice and smooth, then place the bowl over the simmering water, just as if you were tempering chocolate.

Continue beating.

And beating.

You will notice the mixture increase in volume, and also become lighter in color. After about ten minutes of beating or so, it will thicken.

Test the mixture with a thermometer – it should reach 160 degrees Farenheit.

When this happens, remove the bowl from the hot water, but continue beating until it cools, which should taker 7 or 8 minutes. If you want, have a pan of icy water on hand to put the bowl in, like I did, to expedite the cooling of the sabayon.

When you are sure that the mixture isn’t warm anymore, begin folding the whipped cream into the sabayon. You don’t want any streaks.

Then fold in the orange zest, dried cranberries and ginger.

Pour the semifreddo mixture gently in the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Immediately place in the freezer. After about one hour, cover the loaf pan with the overhanging plastic wrap. I also add another layer of plastic wrap to insure that the semifreddo doesn’t absorb any off flavors from the freezer.

To serve, unwrap the semifreddo and turn it out onto a flat serving platter. Let it warm up for a few minutes, then slice it into 1/2″ slices. You can always use a knife that is held under running hot water to make the slices, then wipe the knife after each slice and repeat.

Top with a spoonful of berry sauce, if desired, and serve.

All kinds of different additions can be used in a semifreddo, but I stick with smaller pieces of dried fruits. Larger, dried cherries might interfere with the slicing process. Also, nuts like pistachios and macadamias would be fabulous as well, finely chopped.

It’s a very forgiving dessert!

By Published On: January 6th, 202198 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

98 Comments

  1. sallybr October 1, 2013 at 10:09 AM - Reply

    Another dessert I’ve never made, and believe it or not, never tried! Amazing… I should definitely fix this problem ;-)

    • chef mimi October 1, 2013 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      oh yeah, you definitely should. And hope for no leftovers, or you’ll be in the kitchen eating leftovers late at night!

  2. Francesca October 1, 2013 at 10:14 AM - Reply

    Your semifreddo looks amazing, Chef Mimi! :-)

  3. Amanda October 1, 2013 at 10:33 AM - Reply

    Wow! That does look incredible. And kind of logical in terms of making it. I don’t make desserts often, but this one looks like something I could do because you don’t need special machinery for it. I’m actually going to make this one! Thanks, Mimi!

    • chef mimi October 1, 2013 at 11:45 AM - Reply

      It is very easy, it just takes some time !!!

  4. myhomefoodthatsamore October 1, 2013 at 11:42 AM - Reply

    Excellent! I am not at all good at desserts and this one seems approachable … and it looks really delicious. Thank you!

    • chef mimi October 1, 2013 at 11:44 AM - Reply

      You are so welcome. It’s very easy, it just takes time!

  5. StefanGourmet October 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM - Reply

    I’ve never made semifreddo yet, probably because I’m not crazy for the one you usually get in Italy with nuts. This one looks great, including a great how to for zabaglione.

  6. Our Growing Paynes October 1, 2013 at 1:23 PM - Reply

    This looks delicious. The berry sauce is so pretty with it as well. :)

  7. Three Well Beings October 1, 2013 at 4:46 PM - Reply

    I love that it can be made so far in advance of serving! This is a scrumptious treat! I love the ingredients, so I know it would be fabulous!

    • chef mimi October 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM - Reply

      That’s why it’s so great for company!

  8. thesinglegourmetandtraveller October 1, 2013 at 5:34 PM - Reply

    Lovely recipe. Looks delicious – and very pretty!

  9. Heidi @ lightlycrunchy October 1, 2013 at 6:43 PM - Reply

    Count me in for anything that includes crystalized ginger. This sounds fantastic.

  10. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen October 1, 2013 at 9:39 PM - Reply

    Doesn’t this look amazing.. I have never tried making this sort of dessert.. you make it look easy with all of your instructions and photographs. I hope I have company soon, I’d love the chance to make some!

    • chef mimi October 3, 2013 at 9:41 PM - Reply

      You should definitely make it once in your life! It’s a food bucket list thing…

  11. ladyredspecs October 1, 2013 at 11:27 PM - Reply

    Delicious! I don’t have an ice cream churn so semi freddo is our replacement choice.

  12. chefmo73 October 3, 2013 at 8:23 AM - Reply

    I made a semifreddo last year while in culinary school and completely forgot the recipe. I can’t find my recipe book within the clusters of things in my apartment, and here you are shining generously with a recipe for semifreddo. Thanks so much.

  13. camparigirl October 4, 2013 at 12:12 PM - Reply

    I love making semifreddo. It’s ice-cream without having to drag out the ice-cream maker!

    • chef mimi October 4, 2013 at 12:39 PM - Reply

      Absolutely!

    • chef mimi October 4, 2013 at 1:13 PM - Reply

      You’re absolutely right!

      Sent from my iPad, so please excuse typos

      >

  14. eliotthecat October 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM - Reply

    I love the warming spices and fall flavors in this. I have never made a semifreddo. Need to remedy that!

  15. Fig & Quince October 5, 2013 at 9:53 PM - Reply

    I’m crazy about this and no semi about it, full on crazy! ;)

  16. A Taste of Wintergreen October 6, 2013 at 8:49 AM - Reply

    This looks absolutely divine. One for the next dinner party….

  17. mmmarzipan October 8, 2013 at 4:14 PM - Reply

    Oh- I bet this is delicious! I love the texture of semifreddo! Yours looks amazing! :)

    • chef mimi October 8, 2013 at 5:30 PM - Reply

      It is truly one of the most spectacular desserts around without chocolate in it!

  18. Irina Motoc April 10, 2014 at 9:22 AM - Reply

    Hi! Your semifreddo recipe was nominated as one of the “Best 300 Semifreddo Recipes on the Net”. To vote for it, please visit http://easyitalianrecipes.org/dessert-recipes/best-300-italian-semifreddo-recipes-on-the-net-vote-for-your-favorite/ – your recipe is positioned at #50 (random order).

    • chef mimi April 10, 2014 at 9:28 AM - Reply

      Really? Wow. I’m so honored!!! Thank you!!!

      • Irina Motoc April 10, 2014 at 9:38 AM

        You’re welcome, it’s a really great recipe! Please let your readers know about this so they can vote for your recipe. When the voting closes (one month from today), the winning recipe will be placed at #1.

  19. The Parmigiana Whisperer January 6, 2021 at 6:30 AM - Reply

    I love semifreddo!! it looks incredible!

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 6:53 AM - Reply

      Thank you! It is so good!

  20. popsiclesociety January 6, 2021 at 7:46 AM - Reply

    Back home in Italy we’ve always use to eat semifreddo especially in summer time but also in winter as my husband is a big lover 😋☺️
    From when we’re in Singapore we’ve never found it and I’ve never tried to make it at home 🙈 Maybe I should give it a try ☺️ Looks absolutely delicious 😋 and great combination ☺️

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 9:02 AM - Reply

      Oh you should make it at home! Just basic ingredients, plus a freezer!

  21. Carrie Tyler January 6, 2021 at 8:28 AM - Reply

    You have totally inspired me to make Semifreddo! This looks delicious and not as intimidating as I thought it would be :)

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 9:00 AM - Reply

      If I can make something like this, anybody can! It’s just time consuming, but oh so worth it!

  22. kitchenriffs January 6, 2021 at 9:50 AM - Reply

    I haven ‘t made a semifreddo in years and years. This looks terrific — perfect texture, and I’ll bet the flavor is marvelous. Thanks. And Happy New Year!

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 9:53 AM - Reply

      They’re so creamy, it’s just heavenly! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  23. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen January 6, 2021 at 10:26 AM - Reply

    I love the texture of a semifreddo, but I forget about them! Your version here is absolutely lovely and deserves to be on a list of the best!

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 10:42 AM - Reply

      Yes, they’re so creamy! So unique.

  24. Mary January 6, 2021 at 1:05 PM - Reply

    I didn’t realise that I make ‘semi freddo’ all the time. :)) I don’t have an ice cream maker and just do the above and add whatever flavouring that happens to appeal at the time and put into a container to freeze.

    And it is just lovely on a hot night. My husband’s favourite is Rum and Raisin – yes real rum. The booze stops it from freezing too hard.

    Thanks Mimi :))

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 3:17 PM - Reply

      Yes, I think that’s referred to as a No-Churn ice cream, which is different, because the other part of this dessert is a sabayon, which feels like it takes an hour to make! But either way, there’s nothing quite like this creamy texture! Rum and raisin sounds wonderful.

      • Mary January 7, 2021 at 12:17 PM

        Yes, indeed it is a ‘No churn’ ice cream. I usually just make a custard and add the cream when custard is cool. I am going to make the sabayon next time to give the ice cream more lightness. Off on another food journey! I may add a whipped egg white just to see the difference.
        Thanks Mimi, this is fun. :))

      • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 12:23 PM

        This is fun! Cooking is wonderful, plus you get to eat!

  25. Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 6, 2021 at 1:09 PM - Reply

    This looks amazing! Love the addition of cranberries and ginger. I haven’t made it a while, but do recall adding whipped egg whites to the mixture as well. Need to check my recipe.

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 3:15 PM - Reply

      This is the only recipe I’ve ever used, and the egg whites are ignored. Whipped egg whites would lighten the mixture for sure, but it really doesn’t need it. Plus it might lose some flavor. All I know is that this recipe is fabulous.

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 6, 2021 at 6:52 PM

        Mine indeed had a fluffier texture than yours. Next time I’ll be making it, I’ll try your recipe. I guess I can always use the egg whites for meringue! :)

      • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 6:53 PM

        Exactly! Yet another pavlova! I have nothing to compare this to, but I can guarantee that this semifreddo is luscious. And I really love the dried cranberries and crystallized ginger.

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 6, 2021 at 7:03 PM

        It looks very very tempting! :)

      • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 7:07 PM

        Okay. You have to know that I truly “never” make a recipe twice, and never 3 or 4 times. Such is my motto, “so much food, so little time.” It’s ironic, since that’s what made me crazy about my mother, and yet, I do the same thing. So, after making this recipe the first time, decades ago, probably before the internet, I never researched other semifreddo recipes, and in fact, when I “read” cookbooks, I rarely look at the desserts chapters. Anyway, my point it, Ronit, I would so love you to make this recipe! Like I said, I have nothing to compare it to, but to me, it is exquisite. I’d love your professional opinion!

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 6, 2021 at 7:12 PM

        I’m pretty much on the same page as you – very rarely make the same recipe again. So I totally understand how good it is, if you’ve made it again and again.
        Now that the holidays are over, I’ll have to wait for the right occasion to make this. Also, to find the people who won’t be deterred by 8 egg yolks and heavy cream – not such an easy task these days! :D

      • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 7:16 PM

        Ha! No! Although, you don’t have to tell them… When I catered of course I have my tried and true recipes, but for us, it’s always about trying something new. Sometimes I make my husband mad cause he loves what I created, but I can’t reproduce it. But lots of times, that’s because I use this and that, and there’s no possible way to create all of those bits. I think I’ve made this semifreddo 4 times. that’s a lot for me. I just don’t typically make desserts, even as a caterer. I hope you do get a chance to make it.

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 6, 2021 at 9:32 PM

        Of course, for professional purposes I have some well tried recipes, but other than that, it’s mostly improvisations. However, over the years I’ve learned to document such recipes (with the phone camera), just in case I do want to make them again, which does happen occasionally!
        I’ll look around to see if I can “sell” this to one of my clients (not as many now, unfortunately, as entertaining while on covid-19 mode is very limited :( ). We’ll see… :)

      • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 6:20 AM

        I’m so sorry. It’s been a rough year to be in your business.

      • Ronit Penso Tasty Eats January 7, 2021 at 11:31 AM

        It really has. Hopefully things will go back to some kind of normalcy soon… Thank you for the support. :)

  26. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons January 6, 2021 at 1:10 PM - Reply

    I love the combination of flavors in this one Mimi. It’s such a classic recipe yet I must admit I have forgotten it. I’ve pinned if for dinner parties post Covid when we can gather again. Otherwise I fear my husband and I would eat the entire thing!

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 3:16 PM - Reply

      Well, that happened to us! Every night we had a slice, and for two people who don’t really eat desserts, it was quite heavenly, and fattening! But truly enjoyable.

  27. Josette@thebrookcook January 6, 2021 at 1:46 PM - Reply

    It looks amazing! I looooove semifreddo- it’s such a special dessert.

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 3:13 PM - Reply

      Is so amazing. So creamy.

  28. Debra January 6, 2021 at 3:34 PM - Reply

    I’ve never had this impressive dessert, and it is so appealing. I would have thought I’d overdone it through the holidays, but there’s always room for another bite of something this fantastic. Thank you–I think! LOL!

    • chef mimi January 6, 2021 at 5:20 PM - Reply

      I know what you mean! This stuff is caloric, but it’s super light with tons of flavor so it’s really satisfying! You’ll thank me….

  29. Healthy World Cuisine January 6, 2021 at 8:12 PM - Reply

    How is this even possible bit every time I visit your website, we get hungry! You refresh our memory of things we have not made or eaten in ages. Okay, now slice us off a wedge or 2…Love it! Wishing you a super 2021 dear friend!

    • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 6:21 AM - Reply

      I’ve just been cooking for a really long time! So I’ve uncovered a few gems along the way. This one truly is. Hoping 2021 is a great year!

  30. David @ Spiced January 7, 2021 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    I absolutely love semifreddo – it’s such a wonderful and unique dessert! And it always produces a ‘wow factor’ when you’re entertaining. This orange + ginger version sounds fantastic!!

    • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 6:31 AM - Reply

      It truly is unique. I always forget I used orange zest in this one. I used to use sweet orange oil because for some reason I hate zesting! I have no idea why! but the zest was fabulous, along with the dried cranberries and crystallized ginger.

  31. Linger January 7, 2021 at 1:10 PM - Reply

    Oh my gracious! This looks and sounds fabulous. I have never tried semifreddo and actually this is the first I’ve heard of it. It will have to go on my “gotta try this” list. I love the crystallized ginger in the recipe. As always, thanks so much for sharing.

    • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 3:05 PM - Reply

      Of course! I’m so glad you’ve never heard of this, because you’ll so love it when you make it and have your first taste! You wouldn’t believe how creamy it is!

  32. cookingontheweekends January 7, 2021 at 3:04 PM - Reply

    It’s great to have a very special and very delicious dessert that’s certain to be a hit every time you make it. And this one is so pretty, too! :-) ~Valentina

    • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 3:06 PM - Reply

      Thank you Valentina! This is indeed a special dessert. I guess I’ve also made chocolate mousse quite often over the years, but semifreddo is so unique and unexpected!

  33. Laura January 7, 2021 at 4:48 PM - Reply

    Mimi, I’ve never made a semifreddo, thinking it’s so similar to ice cream that what’s the point. Seem I was completely wrong! This looks amazing, and I can’t wait to give it a try. Just wish I had a hand mixer. This is just the type of recipe I love – unexpectedly delicious and not too difficult.

    • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 5:28 PM - Reply

      Oh, I’m glad you discovered that it’s not ice cream! You definitely need a hand mixer, though. Darn. Well, some day I hope you can try this semifreddo recipe. It’s truly incredible.

  34. Cathy January 7, 2021 at 6:48 PM - Reply

    Looks delightful. The possibilities of delicious options are endless.

    • chef mimi January 7, 2021 at 6:49 PM - Reply

      Definitely! although this combo is the only one I’ve ever made, and that’s just not like me! That’s how good this is!!!

  35. David Scott Allen January 8, 2021 at 7:23 AM - Reply

    Like you, I really like semfreddo. It’s very forgiving, and very easy to be creative when considering different flavors. The only mistake I made once was using some kind of cookie in it which made it impossible to cut and eat. They never softened… sigh. Yours is so festive and the flavor combination is pretty perfect. Thanks!

    • chef mimi January 8, 2021 at 8:01 AM - Reply

      What’s really odd, is that this is the only semifreddo recipe I’ve ever used. It’s just that good that I’m scared to make a different one! I especially loved the crystallized ginger in this one.

  36. Fran @ G'day Souffle' January 8, 2021 at 8:55 PM - Reply

    Yes, I find that semi-freddos are definitely forgiving- no churning required! Once I made a peanut butter whirl semi-freddo and it was good. Your suggestion of adding dried cranberries ould be a real winner- and I might sneak in a few chocolate chips too!

    • chef mimi January 9, 2021 at 7:13 AM - Reply

      What really sets this one off is the crystallized ginger. It’s superb with the orange flavor and dried cranberries.

  37. cookingwithauntjuju.com January 9, 2021 at 7:45 AM - Reply

    Just lovely and is making me very hungry early this morning. A sister’s Italian MIL made this and I was always thrilled (so was Gene) when she served it. I bought crystallized ginger to make a pumpkin cheesecake over the holidays but I went with an easier recipe of a no-bake! So… I still have this bag of ginger…

    • chef mimi January 9, 2021 at 8:18 AM - Reply

      Ha! Well, put that crystallized ginger to good use! I think that’s what really makes this semifreddo special. The orange is good, too. the dried cranberries are pretty and offer some texture.

      • cookingwithauntjuju.com January 9, 2021 at 9:09 AM

        Yes, that’s what KAB said about their cheesecake pumpkin pie – ginger was optional but made a difference

  38. StefanGourmet January 10, 2021 at 9:18 AM - Reply

    Kees loves semifreddo, especially with almonds or pistachios in it, but I’m not a big fan. Yours is a very nice version though.

  39. Karen (Back Road Journal) January 10, 2021 at 1:12 PM - Reply

    I wish I was your neighbor so that I could become a member of your semifreddo of the month club. This sounds fabulous!

    • chef mimi January 10, 2021 at 1:42 PM - Reply

      Doesn’t it?!!!

  40. neil@neilshealthymeals.com January 11, 2021 at 5:36 AM - Reply

    Italian desserts are usually amazing. I’ve no doubt this one is too. Happy New Year Mimi!

  41. 2pots2cook January 14, 2021 at 6:25 AM - Reply

    Woops ! Almost missed this one ! Semifreddo is our favourite ! Your version is fantastic ! Printing !

    • chef mimi January 14, 2021 at 6:55 AM - Reply

      Thank you! I think this recipe is extra special.

  42. Molly Pisula January 14, 2021 at 8:47 AM - Reply

    Love semifreddo! And love the festive mix-ins you put in yours. Great ideas!

    • chef mimi January 14, 2021 at 8:54 AM - Reply

      Thank you! The orange and crystallized ginger are superb together!

  43. shannon January 20, 2021 at 12:12 AM - Reply

    Yum Yum YUM!!! I’ve only ever had the pre-made semifreddo from Trader Joe’s. I’m really picky about store-bought desserts, and this was absolutely DELICIOUS. So now I need to make semifreddo from scratch with your beautiful recipe here! That creamy texture is just calling my name, and I love the orange, cranberry, and ginger combo. I could totally enjoy this once a month! (Well, ideally much more than once a month! 😄😋)

    • chef mimi January 20, 2021 at 6:38 AM - Reply

      Good ‘ole Trader Joe’s. What don’t they sell?!! Besides taking some time, it’s super easy, or I wouldn’t make it. If you do make it, the combination I used is just exquisite. And such a wonderful texture.

Leave a Reply. I love 'em!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.