Chocolate and Pistachio Semifreddo with Cacao Nibs Recipe

The weather in Milan has been beautiful for the past week or so. Of course it’s snowing in other parts of Europe I hold dear and now rain is in our near forecast, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a walk home last night and this weekend wanting a little refreshment in the form of semifreddo.

Two reminders: I’m hosting DMBLGIT this month, so check out the requirements and send in your pictures! I will update the gallery regularly with your submissions. Also, if you’re an Expat in Italy (or a friend of one!) make sure you RSVP for our get-together in Florence on April 19th – it’s coming up!

Semifreddo, or semi freddo as I’ve seen some people (mistakenly) write, has the whipped feeling of a mousse, but the frozen delight of a gelato and is perfect for not-quite-hot, not-quite-cold weather that comes between the seasons.

Last year I made Fresh Strawberry Semifreddo with Coconut and Mascarpone but this year I wanted to make my favorite gelato flavors in semifreddo form. You can pour semifreddo into individual serving sizes or into a loaf container to later slice it into semifreddo slices.

As far as semifreddo recipes go, this requires few steps but several bowls and is ridiculously easy. I got some inspiration from Sara over at San Lorenzo.

Chocolate and Pistachio Semifreddo with Cocao Nibs

Pistachio Semifreddo Recipe

Note: I had some pistachio paste on hand – similar to that used in Sicilian Pistachio Cookies or David’s Pistachio Gelato. You’ll want to add some additional sugar if you’re using fresh pistachio nuts or if your cream is not pre-sweetened. Taste the mixture before adding the egg whites or whipped cream and adjust the sugar.

100g pistachio paste (40% pistachio) or 50g finely ground or pestled pistachios
200ml fresh cream
2 eggs, separated
3 T. sugar

  1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and pistachio paste. If using fresh pistachios, mix yolks and sugar together first, then add in pistachios.
  2. In a separate, grease-free mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until peaks form. In a third bowl, whip the cream slightly until soft peaks form but before it loses its liquidity.
  3. First fold the egg whites into the pistachio-yolk mixture, and hand mix gently with a spatula until all ingredients have been incorporated. Then add the cream, scraping the sides to make sure the mixture is homogeneous.
  4. Pour into individual serving containers or log form and freeze for several hours.

Chocolate Semifreddo Recipe

Note: 100g of chocolate is a bit conservative – if you want, go with 150 grams to make it more chocolaty!

100g dark chocolate, melted
2 eggs, separated
1 T. sugar
200ml fresh cream

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until no longer solid. Remove from heat and continue to mix gently as it cools down. Add egg yolks and sugar and blend at high speed until mixed thoroughly.
  2. Follow steps 2 – 4 above.

You can serve it in log form and slice off portions for your guests. I put a sliver of parchment paper at the bottom of the log form, added the nibs and then the various layers after. If you want very precise layer divisions, freeze each layer for 30 minutes before adding the next flavor. To free the log from the form, run a knife around the edges and turn over onto a plate.

Log form - Chocolate and Pistachio Semifreddo with Cacao Nibs

Don’t forget the Cacao Nibs – they add a yummy crunch!

Close-up of Cacao Nibs - Chocolate and Pistachio Semifreddo with Cacao Nibs

Have you had semifreddo before? Do you have a favorite flavor, or do you prefer it over gelato?


  1. says

    You need to send some of that nice weather down here! We’ve had one sunny day–yesterday–in the midst of fog and rain. I’ll wait on the semifreddo until I need it to cool off a bit…looks fabulous :)

  2. Ms. Adventures in Italy says

    @bleeding espresso – I spoke way too soon – it’s terrible today :( I still could eat semifreddo, though :)

    @Joanne, I definitely love gelato, but it’s great to make semifreddo at home if you don’t have an ice cream maker! :)

  3. says

    Beautiful photos (as usual), Sara. How long does homemade semifreddo last in the freezer? I mean, if you can actually keep yourself from eating it all instantaneously, how long *would* it last? :)

  4. says

    That looks so pretty!! I’ve always been a bit skeptical about semi-freddos, due to the whipping/beating methods..but I think I’m gonna try this one!:)

  5. Ms. Adventures in Italy says

    @Jessica – IF you had to keep it in the freezer and IF you could keep from eating it….I would say maybe 2 weeks?

    @mansi – you can also put the egg whites and cream in the fridge to set up a bit before mixing them all together. :)

  6. lola granola says

    Thanks so much for sharing these recipes… I tested out the pistachio one last night and the result was perfection.

    Have you ever made panna cotta? I recently tried it for the first time and wondered how difficult it was to make.

  7. Nola says

    Lovely desert – I made it twice last week for different parties. I have a question though – the chocolate portion was exceptionally rich and heavy – very good except that it was a bit too dense. The pistachio portion was fluffy and airy, but I’d like it a bit more dense. Do you have any suggestions on adjusting the recipe to get a more even consistency beween the two? Also, when mixing the chocolate with the eggs, I end up with a glob that I have to then cut with about half of the whipping cream to lighten it before I can fold the remainder and the egg whites with. Suggestion?

    • Ms. Adventures in Italy says

      @Nola – Were you using the pistachio paste, or ground pistachios? Try cutting the chocolate down to 75g or less to even out the textures, and adding some cocoa powder to make it more chocolaty

  8. Colin says

    Nice looking recipe, I’ll have to try it, my wife is a pistachio fiend. To be a little (perhaps overly) picky, those don’t look like cacao nibs though. But I’m sure they’re delicious, whatever they are. :)

    • Ms. Adventures in Italy says

      @Colin – you’re right. They’re actually chocolate-covered cacao nibs – that’s perhaps why they look different. I should have specified that a little clearer in the post :)

  9. Colin says

    I never should have doubted you. No need to cater to my overly picky (read, anal) ways. ;) Did you buy them in Milano? Do you recall the store?

  10. Amir Arie says

    Thank you for the recipe, I will try it with vanilla and chocolate :)

    to free the log from the form, you can put the log under running water for 2-3 seconds, and then flip on a plate and press on the upper part…

    thanks again, it’s look great :)

    Amir Arie

    • Ms. Adventures in Italy says

      @PaulO – I think roasted pistachios would definitely bring out the flavor more, but I would choose unsalted pistachios if possible. So start with raw, unsalted pistachios, and roast them yourself to make the paste :)

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