Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 7th June 2013

With summer around the corner I thought I would share an Italian frozen dessert, semifreddo. My son, Matt loves lemon (eats them like oranges) and although he doesn’t generally appreciate lemon desserts I thought I might be able to tempt him with another of his favourites, ice cream cake and if his excitement while I was preparing the elements for the dessert is any indication I think I did. He was repeatedly asking the question, “Mom is it ready yet?” without giving any thought to the fact that it had to be chilled.

Photo of three Honey-Lemon Semifreddo desserts garnished with fresh blackberries and Limoncello bubble sugar displayed on white cake stand.

I brought four flavours together in this dessert, honey, lemon, pistachios and blackberry. I wanted the lemon to be the predominant flavour so I chose to incorporate pistachios in the dacquoise because it brings a milder, nutty flavour. Pistachios also pair well with honey.

Traditional semifreddo is prepared by combining three basics, Pasta Bomba, Italian Meringue and whipped cream. Pasta Bomba or Pâte à Bombe in French is basically egg yolk foam in which flavours are added. It can be prepared in one of two ways.

Photo of a jar of Blackberry Coulis and fresh blackberries displayed on rectangle shaped slate board.

The first method is very similar to preparing an Italian Meringue. Sugar syrup is prepared and brought to a temperature of 120° C (248° F) and then it is gradually added to egg yolks (instead of egg whites) that have been beaten until pale. Once the syrup is incorporated one continues to beat the egg yolk foam until thickened.

The second method is similar to preparing a Swiss Meringue. Egg yolks (again, instead of egg whites) and sugar (or in this recipe, honey) are placed in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water. The mixture is beaten together continuously until thickened and mixture reaches temperature of 160° C (320° F). With both methods the Pasta Bomba is cooled over an ice water bath.

Photo of Honey-Lemon Semifreddo on a bed of pistachio crumb with blackberry coulis and garnished with Limoncello bubble sugar and fresh blackberries.

Italian meringue is gently folded into the flavoured Pasta Bombe. A lot of recipes skip adding the meringue but adding it ensures a creamier, airier, softer texture because Italian meringue does not contain fat and it doesn’t freeze even at temperatures of -18° C (-4° F).

The addition of whipped cream also adds to the softer texture because again, it prevents the semifreddo from getting too firm (high in fat, fat doesn’t freeze) even when stored at temperatures below freezing.

A photo of two Honey-Lemon Semifreddo desserts garnished with fresh blackberries and yellow bubble sugar.

This brings us to the literal name translation, half-cold or semi frozen. Semifreddo is definitely a frozen dessert but because the meringue and whipped cream are added the texture is different than regular ice cream, softer not as firm. For best mouth feel and taste, semifreddo should be allowed to soften slightly before enjoying.

I’ve mentioned this before but for those that may have missed my previous post where I discuss the benefits of using glucose in frozen desserts I think it’s worth repeating. If you’ve struggled to achieve the same creaminess or mouth feel of store bought ice cream glucose will become your new best friend.

Close up photo of half sphere Honey-Lemon Semifreddo on a pistachio dacquoise round decorated with bubble sugar and garnished with blackberry.

Commercial manufacturers have an advantage; their expensive equipment is better at preventing ice crystals from forming. Glucose prevents crystallization, substituting a small amount of sugar with glucose will provide a creamier texture which translates to the much desired mouth feel of store bought ice cream.

Another ingredient, which helps reduce crystallization, is alcohol. Alcohol doesn’t freeze; 45 ml (3 tablespoons) of alcohol can safely be added to the Pasta Bomba to achieve better texture.

Close up photo of Honey and Lemon Semifreddo dessert decorated with yellow bubble sugar and garnished with blackberry coulis and fresh blackberries.

These honey-lemon semifreddo desserts are perfect for summer entertaining. All the elements of the dessert can be prepared ahead of time and put together quite quickly before serving. They’re creamy, light and refreshing, ideal on a hot summer’s day.

A photo of two Honey-Lemon Semifreddo and Pistachio Dacquoise Cakes displayed on black slate board.

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Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Basics, Cakes & Cheesecakes, Custards, Creams & Mousses, Dolci al Cucchiaio, Dolci alla Frutta, Eggs, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Frozen Desserts, Fruit Desserts, Gelati, Sorbetti e Semifreddi, Mini Desserts, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Piccola Pasticceria, Recipes, Ricette di Base, Spoon Desserts, Torte

Comments (5)

5 Responses to “Honey-Lemon Semifreddo and Pistachio Dacquoise Cakes”

  1. Mr. & Mrs. P Says:

    your dessert is beautiful!!! Very informative!

  2. Donalyn@The Creekside Cook Says:

    Very pretty Grace & I love all of the technique!

  3. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Thanks Donalyn!

  4. Ivana Says:

    Hello Grace,

    Im glad that I found you and you are a inspiration.Im living in AB and love your blog. :o)

  5. Grace Massa Langlois Says:

    Welcome Ivana and thank you so much!

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