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Easy Chocolate and Vanilla Semifreddo

An Italian family recipe passed down through the generations. This chocolate, Amaretto and vanilla semifreddo is easy to make and delicious served up in slices.

From the book


This recipe (the Italian version of parfait) originally came from my Auntie Maria’s mother-in-law, IIda, and then Maria passed it on to Nonna, who passed it on to Mum, who passed it on to me – so it’s a great example of Italian women passing recipes down the generations. It’s a great make ahead dessert that you can put in the freezer and forget. Be aware that it does contain uncooked eggs, and make sure you always use fresh organic ones.

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100g amaretti biscuits
Splash of Amaretto liqueur (Disaronno)
100g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
4 eggs, separated
100g caster sugar
500ml whipping cream, lightly whipped
1 vanilla pod, slit open and seeds scraped out

Essential kit

You will need: a 1 litre plastic container.


Carefully line the base and sides of a 1 litre plastic container with a large piece of cling film (you must ensure there are no splits or gaps in it). Set aside.

Crush the amaretti biscuits in a bowl and stir in a generous splash of the liqueur. Spoon the mixture evenly over the base of the lined container and place in the freezer.

Break up the chocolate and place in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (taking care that the bottom of the bowl does not actually touch the water). Allow to melt. Once melted, remove from the heat and leave to cool a little.

Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thickened.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to form stiff peaks, then fold them into the yolks and sugar. Divide the mixture equally between 2 bowls. Add the melted chocolate to one bowl and mix well. To the other bowl add the cream, another touch of the liqueur and the vanilla seeds.

Remove the container from the freezer. Pour in the chocolate mixture first. Lightly tap the container on a work surface to level the mixture, then pour the vanilla mixture over the top. Tap gently again to even out. Cover with cling film and return to the freezer overnight to set (it needs to freeze for at least 12 hours).

When ready to serve, allow to soften slightly at room temperature, then tip on to a chilled plate and cut into slices with a knife warmed in hot water. Serve immediately.

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From the book: Angela Hartnett’s Cucina: Three Generations of Italian Family Cooking

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