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Orange Blossom, Honey and Baklava Semi-Freddo

Sami Tamimi

by Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley from Falastin: A Cookbook

This creamy semi-freddo is layered with a baklava-style filling and topped with a tangy orange and pomegranate salsa. It's a show-stopping dessert and the perfect way to round off a Middle Eastern-inspired meal.

From the book

Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley


This is a real show-stopper of a dessert. There are a few elements to it but none of them are complicated. The only thing to keep an eye on is timing, as the bubbling syrup needs to be added to the eggs halfway through their being whisked. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be in for a treat which sees the best part of baklava – the sticky, nutty filling – layered through a simple semi-freddo.

Getting ahead: This keeps well for up to 2 weeks in the freezer so you can make the whole thing well in advance.

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For the semi-freddo:
250ml double cream
70g caster sugar
40g mild runny honey
3 eggs (crack one open, then separate the yolk and white of the other two: you only need the yolks of these)
1½ tbsp orange blossom water
For the baklava filling:
90g pistachio kernels, toasted
60g walnut kernels, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
10 cardamom pods, shells crushed and then discarded, seeds finely ground in a pestle and mortar (or ¾ tsp ground cardamom)
¼ tsp flaked sea salt
2½ tbsp mild runny honey
1 tbsp orange blossom water
For the orange salsa (optional):
2 oranges
80g pomegranate seeds, from about 1 pomegranate
5g mint leaves, roughly torn

Essential kit

You will need: a 20 x 10cm loaf tin


Lightly grease and line the base and sides of a 20 x 10cm loaf tin. Set aside until ready to use.

First make the semi-freddo. Put the cream into the bowl of a free-standing mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until medium peaks form. Transfer to a separate bowl and keep in the fridge until needed. Wash the bowl and whisk and return them to the mixer: they need to be clean and ready to whisk the eggs halfway through the next stage.

Put the sugar, honey and 2 tablespoons of water into a small saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 5–6 minutes, stirring often, until bubbles form and the mixture becomes foamy and glossy. After 3 minutes, add the egg and egg yolks to the bowl of the free-standing mixer. Beat on a medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, until pale and creamy. Reduce the speed to medium-low and slowly pour in the bubbling hot syrup, which will have been cooking for 5–6 minutes by now. Once the syrup is completely incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat for about 6 minutes, until the mixture is pale and glossy and the bowl is cool to touch. Using a spatula, fold in the orange blossom water and whipped cream until just combined. Put half the mixture into
the prepared tin – about 200g – and smooth out the top. Wrap with baking parchment and freeze for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate the other half of the mixture in a separate bowl until needed.

To make the baklava filling, put the pistachios and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor and blitz roughly until crumbled. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the spices, flaked salt, honey and orange blossom water. Once the semi-freddo has been in the freezer for 2 hours, gently top it with the baklava filling. Spread it out so that the top is covered, without pushing it in. Remove the reserved semi-freddo from the fridge, give it a good whisk by hand, then pour it over the baklava filling. Spread it out until smooth, then wrap the pan with baking parchment and freeze overnight.

To make the salsa, if using, use a small, sharp knife to trim the tops and tails off the oranges. Cut down along their round curves, removing the skin and white pith. Release the segments by slicing between the membranes and transfer them to a bowl, discarding any pips and squeezing what’s left of the membranes to release any liquid into the bowl. Just before serving, add the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves to the salsa and then either spoon it in a line along the top of the semi-freddo or serve alongside.

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From the book: Falastin: A Cookbook

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