Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mocha Semifreddo – Bad Technique Makes for a Great Frozen Summer Dessert

I got a request for semifreddo recently, and since it is a massively underrated summer dessert, I decided to give it a go. I love the rich taste, and the fact that you get what’s basically an airy, custard-style ice cream, without having to use a machine. However, it all comes at a cost.

The classic procedure is a little bothersome, since you need to make three separate components – a zabaione, a meringue, and whipped cream – so, I decided to simply use the eggs whole, and make a “zabaringue.” I knew I wouldn’t get as much volume, but I didn’t care.

One of my issues with semifreddo is that they’re sometimes too airy, and the flavor gets spread too thin.That wasn’t a problem here, and yet this much simpler version retained a wonderfully light texture despite the shortcut. I decided on a mocha-flavored semifreddo, since coffee is a pretty manly ingredient, and this sure would make a nice Father’s Day dessert. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Warning: Answering questions about how to use this technique to make other flavors is tough, since there are many variables. Theoretically, if you replace the coffee and liquor, with other “stuff,” then you should get a similar product. Good luck!

Ingredients for 2 portions:
- For the egg/coffee mixture:
 2 large egg eggs
 2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee
1 tablespoon Kahlua
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
tiny pinch salt
 - For the whipped cream:
1/4 cup ice cold heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
-Combine and freeze until firm. If using a loaf pan, line with plastic first!


Mkane said...

This video made my day, I've been craving some ice cream but I still have not got around to buying an ice cream maker. I also dug the subtle Lebowski reference, it really tied the video together.

Angel Bear said...

Any tips for making it not coffee? Not sure if the alcohol in the liqueur (or the coffee flakes) does anything "sciencey" to the mixture. ^_^ Thanks!

Unknown said...

I haven't checked the data, but I suspect there is a strong correlation between my weight gains and my discovery of your video

Unknown said...

Chef John! Please, please, make a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza.
You are so awesome BTW!

nefsaye1 said...

Hi Chef,

One of yor greatest fan is still around trying your recipes. I have a completely of topic question if you don't mind.

What's camera do you use to film your videos? Greatly appreciate your help!


Chef John said...

A Canon T3i!

Unknown said...

Hi Chef,

another sweet recipe! Thx!

My tip on making ice cream without a machine. Well, let's call it "ice cream"

I just dump frozen berries (My fave is a blue- and raspberry mix) into cold greek yogurt and mix it with a spoon for a few minutes. Texture's amazing - almost exactly like soft ice.

Doing your version tonight to have them for breakfast tomorrow


Unknown said...

Hey Chef, just curious, is the coffee liqueur required for anything here? I've never been a fan of the taste.

Could I replace it with some water, or some instant coffee disolved in water?


FSB said...

Ummm... You are the Fredo of your mocha semifreddo ??

Unknown said...

How long will it last in the freezer? Basically, I wondering if I make a gallon of this stuff will it keep well in the freezer for a while?

Chef John said...

Sorry not sure how long this lasts! I never managed to keep it more than a day or two!

Chef John said...

Matt, yes I believe the alcohol helps with the silky texture, and adding coffee or water instead may turn into ice crystals.

Unknown said...

Heating the eggs reminds me of a microwave lemon curd recipe, any idea if this would work in the microwave?

Anders said...

Do you know if the Starbucks VIA packets are any different than normal instant coffee?

Grace said...

I made this for Father's Day and this recipe was AMAZING! Thanks for the recipe Chef John.

Unknown said...

Hi chef Jonh!
All your recipe are fabulous! I really enjoy the video, you make the preparations like very simple. My favorite part is when the spoon appears and you taste the mocha semifreddo . Haha

Regards from Argentina


Vicky said...

Hi Chef! I've made this three times now, and it is an absolute hit every time! For those wishing to make a (large) loaf pan, I 5X the entire recipe and there is usually just enough left over for two small custard cups - quality control, of course - LOL! Fully line the loaf pan (both ways) with plastic.

Because it is very easy to go from the ribbon stage to almost-cooked eggs, I always put the hot mixture through a fine mesh strainer to catch any egg bits and any other undesirable pieces that will take away from the silkiness of the finished product.

I've had semifreddo many times across Italy, and you can't get any closer than this recipe. Feel free to continue researching "bad technique" for other recipes that are just too much of a pain to make!

Dahrkness said...

So I've failed this recipe twice now. I think you need to be extremely careful to not overcook the eggs, especially when using the double boiler method. I don't have a gas stove so I didn't have much choice and I discovered that my double boiler setup retains heat very easily. Even after taking the mixture off of the heat it continued to cook rapidly.

After freezing my first attempt I had a very slimy texture that was very unappealing despite tasting fine. Because I didn't want to eat it I let it melt and, as a joke, wondered if I could make it into a cake-in-a-mug recipe. I eyeballed some flour until a thick cake like consistency then added a hefty amount of baking powder (I only had like 1/4 cup of batter but added something like 1/8 tsp of baking powder) and nuked it in the microwave. I was pleasantly surprised with a very awesome light and fluffy Mocha Sponge Cake.

I failed my second attempt just now. I could tell right after the cooking stage it was lumpy and overdone. This is when I realized how critical the temperature was to this recipe. However, this failure just made me want to try to recreate my sponge cake.

Since I eyeballed the flour and baking powder last time, I tried to measure it out properly to save this attempt and hopefully at least get a sponge cake recipe out of it. I hadn't added the whipping cream yet so I let the mixture cool then added 1/3 cup of milk (to a double batch) and an additional 1 tbsp of sugar to compensate. I plan to save the whip cream for a third attempt.
To make it into a cake batter I added 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 tsp of baking soda, but that was far too little. After baking my cake in a toaster oven for 30 minutes at 325° it came out too moist and dense. Again, the taste is fine, but the texture is unappealing.

I will try to re-bake it tomorrow into Melba Toast to cut the moisture, but I may have to toss this one because I can't think of what else I could turn it into if that fails. Maybe dry it out into a mocha bread crumb topping for ice cream? Or maybe compress the crumb to make the cookie base of a cheesecake/ice cream cake.

I'm having a lot of fun with this. I'm hoping at least one of these recipes works out. In fact I almost hope my third semifreddo attempt fails so I can have another shot at the sponge cake. =P

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John,

Man, i made this last week for a farewell party at my office and it's turned out so delicious that i couldn't even take a picture before everybody attacks it.

I did a couple of changes to the recipe that turned out really well, instead of instant coffee i used some strong espresso that i let chill for a couple of minutes, and instead of kahlua (saved for my white russians ;) ) i used some liqueur of chocolate and hazelnut.

Really great recipe now everybody wants me to do it again.
Thanks a lot.

Unknown said...

Are there any problems making this at higher altitude (4500ft)? I could not get it to foam or thicken up, seemed to just break every time.

Unknown said...

Hi chef! Any alternative instead of the alcohol/liqueur?

Unknown said...

Dear Chef John,
I made this recipe (not mocha, but first raspberry, then banana with walnuts). Everything worked fine for both efforts, as well as the repeat with my friend Caroline of the banana-walnut (plus a little banana liqueur).
Next, both Caroline and I repeated everything (we think) on another batch of banana-walnut each: Caroline at her abode, me, at mine.
WHOOPS!! Suddenly, our lovely semifreddo turned out HARD and difficult to scoop. Do you have any idea what we may have altered and done wrong? We both wait until the batches of this are gone (which won't be easy, because we have lazy spoiled men who can't make the effort to cut into this and eat it. They have both fallen back on snack food sweets.

Unknown said...

Chef John, please tell me what kind of cream do you use in the end from the top?

Unknown said...

Hello Chef John!

Every time I have made this, it has been a huge hit (but I did a french vanilla flavour instead). However the last time I made it I noticed that once frozen, the contents of the mixture separated once they had been settled. Now I understand that heavier contents will fall to the bottom (egg yolks) while the lighter sit above it, but I want to know if this is supposed to happen or if I did, or did not do something properly. It tastes fantastic regardless of this small flaw and is not noticeable when I serve it to the undiscriminating eye, but I would just like to know for my own satisfaction.


Ryan said...

made this once and never turned back, so easy to clean, no hard to find ingredients and it tastes so good, recently I tried mixing half of the whipped cream into the main mix and adding vanilla to the other half before swirling it together in a coffee cup then freezing, it created these really nice waves of white in the dessert

saldeniv said...

Hi Chef John,

How long did it take you to cook the egg mixture?

Unknown said...

What if you have only electric flat top stove? Go with double boiler?

Rajat said...

Please, can you suggest a substitute for the coffee liqueur (considering that liquor is banned in some countries).

Ivvie Ivanova said...

Hi, I'm wanting to make this but I can't get liquor, will it be bad to skip it?

Lynn said...

Hi Chef John,

Let me tell ya, I made a mess out of the 1st try not gonna lie. The 2nd attempt was much better. It even had the threads that sat on top for a second. This is going to be fabulous after dinner of creamy shrimps pasta. I wish you well.