Tiramisu Semifreddo is a mashup of two classic Italian desserts in frozen form. Frozen espresso mousse is surrounded by soft lady fingers and topped with sweet mascarpone cream.
I’ve decided that this is my new favorite dinner party dessert for summer. It’s so decadent, but also silky and light in texture. And it’s so easy to make ahead! Assemble it days in advance and store it in the freezer, then bring it out when you need a beautiful ending to a meal.
First thing, get yourself a couple of packages of soft lady fingers from your grocery store’s bakery. Line them up around the sides of a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover the bottom, too!
Next whip up some egg yoks, sugar, and espresso in a double boiler. This makes a quick custard base for the espresso mousse. I always keep instant espresso powder on hand because I’m a Tiramisu fanatic (see here, here, and here). It’s so good in this recipe so I recommend using it! Delallo is a great brand of espresso powder.
After the custard base cools, you’ll fold it with some lightly sweet whipped cream.
Next, pour all that billowy espresso mousse into the lined loaf pan. It will fill the pan almost to the very top. Give the pan a few taps on the counter top to knock out any air pockets that might be hiding. Now it is time to freeze! Three or four hours later, you’re ready to top it with fluffy mascarpone cream.
Heavy cream and mascarpone cheese along with a little powdered sugar makes the perfect topping. But I couldn’t stop there.
Indulge a little more!
I couldn’t help myself! Tiramisu always needs a chocolate element (unless it’s my Quick Berry Tiramisu) so I went all in with a chocolate ganache, chocolate shavings, chopped almonds, and chocolate-covered coffee beans. The latter is courtesy of Sconza. I can’t say enough good things about their products. They are one of my favorite food gifts to give to colleagues, friends, family – everybody!
Semifreddo means partially frozen. So if you’re expecting a frozen rock hard brick of dessert, then think again! Even well-frozen your knife will meet little resistance. The mousse stays soft. The texture is just so silky, and the lady fingers make it cake-like. And it becomes cloud-like as a slices warm to room temperature.
Let’s end all of our summer dinners this way, okay? This dessert tastes restaurant-quality, and it’s not hard to make. The video below will help you get better acquainted with assembly.
- 9×5 inch loaf pan
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- 30 soft lady fingers
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt
- 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
- 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup chocolate shavings
- 1/4 cup chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans such as Sconza
- 2 tablespoons chopped almonds
- Dissolve the espresso powder in the hot water; set aside.
- Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap that overhangs all sides of the pan. Line the sides and the bottom of the pan with the lady fingers, standing up vertically around the sides of the pan. Tear small pieces of lady fingers and press into gaps in the bottom of the pan (see video).
- Fill a saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer. Set a large metal bowl on top and add the egg yolks, sugar, rum, and salt. Add the espresso mixture. Whisk until the mixture thickens like custard. The mixture is ready when an instant read thermometer registers 160F. Remove from the heat and cool 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the whip attachment until the bowl feels cool to the touch, about 5 more minutes.
- Beat 1 3/4 cups of the heavy cream on medium-high until slightly thickened. Add 3 tablespoons of the powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the beaten espresso custard mixture. Spoon the mixture into the lined loaf pan. Smooth the top and tap on the counter top to remove air bubbles. Fold in the plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 4 hours or overnight.
- Beat the remaining cream on medium-high speed gradually adding the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Add mascarpone a little at a time while beating. Whip to stiff peaks. Spread the top of the frozen semifreddo with the whipped mascarpone cream. Return to the freezer.
Chocolate ganache and toppings
- Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until steaming but not boiling. Add in chopped chocolate. Let stand one minute and then whisk together. Let cool until thickened yet still pourable, about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove the semifreddo from the pan from the overhanging plastic. Unwrap and place on a serving tray. Cover with chocolate ganache. Sprinkle on chocolate shavings, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and almonds. Serve immediately or return to the freezer until set. When the chocolate is set, cover in plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Good heavens, this is SO beautiful! Sadly, I cannot abide coffee flavor anything, but I am sorely tempted to try this with just more alcohol instead of espresso. It is THAT tempting! Yum. Yum. YUM.
You could totally do that. Then it would be just, a rum semifreddo, which sounds pretty amazing to me!
Is is possible to use the hard ladyfingers? Is there enough moisture to soften them? Where I live they seem to only have goya and an Italian brand, both of which are hard.
I believe you could use the crisp ladyfingers. I’m not sure if you’ll need more or less than the recipe requires. The mousse will hydrate the ladyfingers, but I’m not certain how much. You may have a slightly crisp exterior and soft interior, which would still be good.
You could always dip them slightly in sweet coffee before putting them around the tin.