Chocolate, Hazelnut & Meringue Semi-freddo

A dessert that ticks all the boxes – It is a make-in-advance pudding that serves up to 8 people, is gluten free, and is seriously tasty. It boasts a bit of ‘wow’ factor if presented on an attractive serving platter, topped with nuts or fresh seasonal berries, and so for all these reasons, I crown it as a perfect dinner party finale.

But what exactly is a semi-freddo? It is an Italian dessert that means half-cold or half-frozen, a mousse-like ice-cream that doesn’t require any churning and is so velvety and smooth to taste. The base is full of air as you use whipped cream and stiff meringue in the mixture and so it never actually freezes, as ice-cream does.

It is quite straightforward to make with ingredients as follows;

  • 6 meringues, crumbled (shop-bought is fine!)
  • 100g chocolate spread
  • 125g chocolate chips (I used 52% callebaut)
  • 600ml double cream
  • 2 tablespoons of Frangelico (hazelnut flavoured liqueur)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g whole hazelnuts

What to do (with some pictures to assist!)

  • Line your loaf tin with baking paper, ensuring to leave some excess paper for lifting the semi-freddo out of the tin.
  • Add 3 of the crumbled meringues to the base of the tin and spread evenly.
  • Heat half the cream in a pan. Just when it is simmering add it to the chocolate chunks/chips and the chocolate spread, stirring occasionally, allowing the cream to melt the chocolate.
  • Separately whip the other half of the double cream until stiff and leave aside.
  • Add your egg whites to another clean bowl (stainless steel preferably) and whisk until thick, foamy and stiff. Now add your sugar and whisk until peaked and glossy. This is your meringue mixture.
  • By now the chocolate cream mix should be cooled so you can stir in your Frangelico.
  • Gently fold in the whipped cream and meringue mix.
  • Follow with the remaining crumbled meringue and whole hazelnuts.
  • Pour into your lined tin, cover and leave in the freezer overnight.

Top tips for a successful semi-freddo!

  • Line your 2lbs loaf tin with baking parchment ensuring the paper hangs over the side to allow you to lift it out when serving.
  • Whip your double cream to stiff peaks.
  • Ensure your meringue mixture is also very stiff before adding to the chocolate mixture.
  • Wait until the chocolate and cream mixture is cool before adding the Frangelico
  • Use the best quality ingredients for best results!
  • Put your serving platter in the freezer if possible for a few minutes before serving – it will give the dessert a bit of longevity while being oohed and aahed at by your guests!
  • The liqueur is worth including. You get the hint of booze but it is not overpowering and you can serve the dessert with a little glass of Frangelico too – a fancy nightcap!

Side remark on the chocolate spread of choice: I have to admit I used Nutella in making this dessert. To be honest, it has been a few years since I have bought Nutella, for a few reasons. Firstly the sugar content is pretty ridiculous and the cocoa quantity is the contrary, but also because it contains the controversial palm oil. If you can use a better quality chocolate spread that doesn’t contain palm oil then it is worth the investment for many reasons.

And finally, do let me know if you make this dessert! I love to hear when people make the recipes. I really enjoyed this one and I hope you will too.

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