Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate Semifreddo

There are times when I feel I can't write anything about a recipe but the recipe itself. Not because I don't feel like it, but simply because I'm so incredibly thrilled with the actual recipe that I just can't wait another moment to share it with you.

This is the case with the recipe for this chocolate semifreddo.

You all know about my chocoholism, right? I have been telling you about it for almost three years now, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I chose chocolate as a flavor for my first ever semifreddo.

Semifreddo (half-cold in Italian) is a type of iced dessert that has the texture of frozen mousse, and whereas ice cream gives you that cold sensation in the mouth, semifreddo, even if you eat it straight from the freezer, will only give you a cool and refreshing feel.

Semifreddo is a small miracle of the pastry arts because, even though it's a frozen dessert, it has a soft, creamy, velvety texture thanks to its ingredients and the way they are put together. It is essentially a combination of a zabaglione (eggs and sugar beaten in a bain-marie) and whipped cream.

Unlike ice cream, semifreddo contains only a small amount of water and therefore less ice, without having those pesky ice crystals that are the nemesis of anyone who makes homemade ice cream. Semifreddo's mousse-like texture means that it doesn't freeze as solidly as ice cream thus remaining unbelievably smooth and almost fluffy. And the best part of it all? You don't need an ice cream machine to make it. All you have to do is pour the mixture in a container suitable for the freezer and let it freeze.

When I made this chocolate semifreddo, I couldn't believe how incredible it was. The flavor and texture was unsurpassed by any other iced dessert I have ever made before. S was ecstatic, he couldn't stop eating it, and of course I was filled with pride that I had accomplished making such a wonderful dessert.

And this brings me to what I've said in the beginning of this post; I couldn't wait to share this with you. I hope you enjoy it!

Chocolate Semifreddo
Adapted from Donna Hay

This semifreddo has an intense and rich chocolate flavor without being too sweet. It is creamy and light and gives you the most unbelievably refreshing feel.

I chose to prepare it in a loaf pan because I like the terrine presentation, but you can also serve it like regular ice cream, scooped into bowls.

Semifreddo is very similar to the French parfait but they are made in a different way. I'm not going to go into details but those of you who like parfaits, are going to love semifreddo.

Yield: about 1.7 liters of semifreddo

165 g caster sugar
3 medium-sized eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks (from medium-sized eggs), at room temperature
250 g dark chocolate 55% cocoa solids, chopped
430 ml cream, full-fat (35%), cold
20 g (2 Tbsp) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Dark chocolate 55% cocoa solids, cut into shards (optional)

Special equipment: hand-held mixer, stand mixer (optional), fine sieve, 2 liter-capacity container suitable for the freezer (you can use a metal loaf pan if you want)

If you choose to put your semifreddo in a loaf pan and serve it as a terrine, line the bottom and sides with a piece of baking paper or plastic wrap. The lining will make it easier to turn your semifreddo out for slicing.

Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water (ben-marie) and melt, stirring often with a spatula. The bottom of the bowl must not come in contact with the simmering water otherwise the chocolate will burn. Once the chocolate is smooth and melted, remove bowl from the top of the pan and set aside to cool briefly.

Place the sugar, the eggs and the egg yolks in another large heatproof bowl and set it over the same pan of barely simmering water (ben-marie). Using a hand-held mixer, beat the sugar with the eggs on medium speed for 6-7 minutes or until the mixture has doubled in volume, is pale in color and has the texture of lightly whipped cream. You need to be careful not to let the water bubble underneath the bowl because your eggs might scramble. You need to keep the water at a bare simmer.
Remove the bowl from the heat and continue beating the mixture on medium speed, in order to cool it down (you can transfer it to another clean bowl if you want). It will take 6-7 minutes to cool down and by this point, the mixture will be shiny and will have the texture of lightly whipped, smooth meringue.

Note: Cooling the mixture will prevent the whipped cream from melting when it’s added later on.

Fold the melted chocolate gently through the mixture with a metal spoon or spatula until well-combined, being careful not to completely deflate it.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large bowl), beat the cold cream on high speed with the whisk attachment (or using your hand-held mixer with clean beaters) until soft-peaks form. Sieve the cocoa powder over the whipped cream and fold it through gently, until fully incorporated.

Fold the whipped cream (along with the chocolate shards if using) very gently through the egg-chocolate mixture with a metal spoon or spatula until combined, being careful not to deflate the mixture.

Pour the semifreddo mixture into your lined loaf pan (if you're using it), or pour it into any 2 liter-capacity container suitable for the freezer. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and place it in your freezer for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.

Take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before you want to serve it so it will be easier to cut. To remove the semifreddo from the loaf pan, hold the baking paper or plastic wrap and lift it. If there are any sides of the pan that were not covered with baking paper or plastic wrap, run a knife through and the semifreddo will be released quite easily.

Serve the semifreddo cut into slices (if you used a loaf pan) or scooped into bowls.
You can serve it with fresh berries or any other accompaniment you desire.


  1. Love the textures and the colours! :-) The lines and angles vs the scoops and curves!

  2. It would be plenty for you to share your delicious looking recipes with us, but you also give us the extra special treat of your beautiful photographs documenting your process. Thank you.

  3. It does look like a perfect recipe for semifreddo; your photos make it even more enticing!

  4. Once again, Magda, a triumph! How lucky S. is to live with you and have the opportunity to try all these beautiful things you make. I hope he is a chocoholic, too! ~ David

  5. Indeed, this semifreddo is very eloquent, and I need to try it as soon as possible. Thank you.

  6. Stunning. Must make. But even gazing at your photos is remarkably satisfying!

  7. This is like velvet! I really appreciate the clear, step-by-step photos as I am most certainly going to be making it!

  8. Ok, you convinced me... like I needed much convincing...
    by a chocoholic

  9. I can't wait to try this. I made a strawberry/pistachio semifreddo last week which was delicious.

  10. Hi So sorry, may i know.. is that ok to eat egg without cooked it? thank you.

  11. Hi! Your semifreddo recipe was nominated as one of the "Best 300 Semifreddo Recipes on the Net". To vote for it, please visit - your recipe is positioned at #84 (random order).

  12. My boyfriend and I were in the mood for something sweet and a bit technical to make last night, and this recipe came up as one of the first hits on Google at the grocery store - so we tried it ... and LOVED IT. Your instructions are so clear, and the recipe is bang on! Just wanted to say thank you :) Will definitely be making again!

    1. Hi Sophie. I'm very glad you and your boyfriend liked it! Thank you for trying it and for your feedback :)

  13. Hey! I have a query. Could I use this to make an entremet type dessert? Like my initial intention was to make these individual desserts in a silicon mold with two layers of choc mousse and one layer of crushed cornflakes in melted choc/choc syrup in the centre and finally coated with a mirror glaze. But there are so many recipes for mousse and it's all really intimidating. This seems pretty easy :p So would this hold its shape in a dessert like this? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi. It's not easier than making chocolate mouse. It's much more tricky. Also, this is a semifreddo, which is like ice cream. It's not mousse. It's up to you if you want to try it.

  14. Silly question but do you use 5 eggs in total?

    1. 3 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks. As it is clearly stated in the ingredients. ;)