Semifreddo is a frozen dessert that is somewhere between a mousse and an ice cream, made with a flavored base of whipped cream and egg white meringue. It is lighter in texture than ice cream and requires no churning, just some time in the freezer to set up. I like it because it is easy to make, it looks very elegant and it melts quickly into the lightest, creamiest dessert you can imagine once it hits your tongue. The name means “half-cold,” and while this is usually said to describe the fact that there are lots of mix-ins in semifreddi, like nuts, fruits, chocolates and cookies. I used cookies in this recipe, adding the chocolate and crunch of Tim Tams into the ultra-light vanilla base of the semifreddo.
Tim Tams are a hugely popular Australian cookie that consists of a layer of chocolate mousse sandwiched between two layers of crispy chocolate biscuits, all of which is dunked in chocolate. Pepperidge Farms released them in the US earlier this year, and I’m not sure if they’re still available, but I regularly find them at stores that specialize in imports, like Cost Plus World Market. Typically, I eat these one at a time with a cup of coffee and do the Tim Tam slam. It was a little bit of a sacrifice to put almost a whole package into this dessert, but the result was well worth it. The crunchy, chocolaty cookies held up amazingly well in the creamy semifreddo and the chocolate mousse stayed just soft enough to melt in my mouth along with the dessert base.
If you can’t find Tim Tams, you can use other types of cookies. Oreos, Thin Mints or other similar crunchy chocolate cookies are great choices. Oreos have the bonus of a cream filled center that adds even more texture and flavor to the dessert. Feel free to experiment, but if you’re not using Tim Tams this time around, keep your eyes out for a package because they’re just right. This recipe calls for uncooked eggs, so if you’re uncomfortable using them, look for pasturized eggs. I used Safe Choice eggs, which are pasturized in the shell, in this recipe, but I’ve made it using completely uncooked eggs in the past.
Tim Tam Semifreddo
2 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Tim Tams, coarsely chopped
(or other favorite cookies, pref. crisp, chocolate sandwich cookies)
Line a loaf pan, either 9×5-inch or 8×4-inch, with lightly greased plastic wrap.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until slightly pale. Add in sugar and beat until no sugar crystals remain and mixture is light in texture, about 2 minutes.
In a medium bowl, beat heavy cream until it reaches soft peaks. Beat in vanilla extract. Fold yolk mixture into whipped cream. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using very clean beaters, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Working in two or three additions, fold egg whites into the cream mixture. Fold carefully and make sure that no streaks of egg white remain visible.
Fold in chopped cookies, then spread the mixture into the prepared pan.
Freeze for at least 2-3 hours, or until dessert is solid and you are ready to serve.
To serve, slice semifreddo into portions with a sharp knife.