Chocolate and Tangerine Semifreddo

6 Dec

Hard to believe it, but we’re already at the second-to-last post in our two week Dolce Italiano contest/recipe series! Just to recap as my other dolce blogging teammates have done, so far we’ve had:

Mosaic Biscotti & Sicilian Pistachio Cookies, Sara’s Ms Adventures in Italy

Chocolate Kisses & Cassata alla Siciliana, Ilva’s Lucullian Delights

Ricotta Pound Cake & Sweet Apple Omelet, Bleeding Espresso

Chestnut Brownies, right here last Thursday

and last but certainly not least, Chocolate Salami, Jenn’s The Leftover Queen (and don’t forget to stop by her blog tomorrow for the last recipe and chance to enter!

The contest part is that a personalized, signed copy of the Dolce Italiano cookbook by pastry chef Gina DePalma of Babbo Ristorante in NYC is up for grabs. All you have to do is comment on one or all of the 10 posts in the series, no later than 11:59 p.m. PST on Friday, December 7.

See, sometimes in life you can get something for free! (Take it from me, I once won a brand new car, and another time I won a trip to Florida. Hence, my lifetime supply of “contest luck” is already dried up. Yours might just be starting to flow!)

Now, onto today’s recipe. Like Ilva when she made the Cassata Siciliana, my second recipe was my husband’s choice. Personally I wouldn’t have chosen this recipe, because I’m not a huge fan of semifreddo, but when I tried to weasel my way out of it and make the Pumpkin Fritters instead, Alessandro wasn’t having any of that. He even pulled out the “sad me” face, complete with pout and tragic eyes. If you’ve ever seen Shrek, then you know what I’m talking about:


How could I possibly resist? So I went about collecting the various ingredients for this recipe.

I can’t tell you what a HUGE success this recipe was. It’s going to take me half a day to type it out for you here below, but it’s not complicated and I’d say it’s a pretty surefire way to get a big ego-boost and seem like a dolce genius with very little time and effort. Who knew that Dolce Italiano had a built-in self-esteem booster? Nice.

Not only was I showered with compliments by Ale, but when I took the rest to a dinner party the same evening, I was showered with compliments by other Italians. Who, in my experience, have always been just a *tad* suspicious of “the American girl bringing the dessert.” You know, because in the States we all carry guns everywhere and eat McDonald’s 24/7—what could I POSSIBLY bring to the dessert table that wouldn’t kill us all? Ah, ha ha, my friends! Turns out that the Dolce Italiano cookbook makes a very satisfying secret weapon, and no people or animals were harmed in the process.

So, get a load of this:

I’m not great with food shots, but take it from me, this was a very indulgent treat. It includes a chocolate sauce and is garnished with chopped pistachios. Without further ado, I bring you:

Chocolate and Tangerine Semifreddo
adapted from Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma (my notes/changes in italics)

For the semifreddo:

2 tangerines (I used clementini which are quite small, so I needed about 7-10 to reach the correct quantity of juice)
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 tbsp. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. amaretto
4 large egg yolks
4 oz. chocolate wafer cookies, ground (I used Mulino Bianco’s Pan di Stelle)
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. mascarpone
Chopped pistachios, for garnish

For the chocolate tangerine sauce:

1 tangerine
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 c. boiling water
3 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup (this is hard to find in Italy so I omitted it; I don’t think the texture of the sauce suffered much for it)
2 tsp. Triple Sec or other orange-flavored liqueur (I actually found a tangerine liqueur from Sicily in the grocery store so I used that)

To make the semifreddo:

Zest the tangerines and squeeze them. Reserve 3/4 cup juice and set the zest aside.

Place the chocolate, cocoa powder, 2 tbsp. sugar, and tangerine juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will bubble and then begin to thicken; continue cooking until it is almost the consistency of pudding, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tangerine zest and amaretto. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 minutes and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment (again this time I just used my regular hand mixer with the standard beater attachments and it worked fine) to beat together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar on medium speed until light-colored and thick, about 2 minutes. Fold the egg yolk into the cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in the chocolate wafer crumbs.

Clean the bowl and the whisk attachment and whip the heavy cream with the mascarpone at high speed until it is thick and softly peaking. Gently fold the cream mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Look at my “folding” technique. I have no idea if it’s correct or not. I just really wanted an excuse to show you pure chocolate and heavy cream + mascarpone bliss:

Pour the semifreddo into a loaf pan or another freezable container and press plastic wrap on the surface. (I suggest you really make sure the plastic wrap is pressed consistently on the surface, because if there are air bubbles you might find little pockets of slight freezer burn.) Freeze for at least 6 hours, or until firm.

Before serving, make the chocolate tangerine sauce:

Zest the tangerine and squeeze it until you have 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl. Pour in the boiling water and allow the ingredients to sit for 30 seconds, then whisk them together until smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream, corn syrup, tangerine zest, Triple Sec, and tangerine juice.

To serve:

Scoop the semifreddo into individual bowls, or unmold the whole semifreddo by dipping the pan in hot water and inverting it over a plate and then slice it into portions with a hot thin-bladed knife. Drizzle each serving with some of the warm sauce and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. (I just left the whole thing in the loaf pan and cut out individual slices using a knife that I run under hot water before cutting around the sides of each slice, and used a wooden spatula to get the pieces out. It worked fine and made it easier for me to transport to the dinner later that evening.)

My drizzling skills need a bit of work, and the sauce without the corn syrup was a bit thick, but I made two nice little stripes:

The sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3 days. Before serving, heat in the microwave or the top of a double boiler.


I highly recommend this recipe, and the whole cookbook for that matter. I can’t shamelessly plug it enough as a great holiday gift, because it is chock-full of beautiful recipes that anyone can make (302 pages), has a great design and layout with gorgeous photos so it makes for a pretty gift as well, and is also packed with fun and interesting stories, tips, and cultural culinary information. As Martha would say, (and she should know because she invited Gina on her show this past Monday): It’s a good thing.


56 Responses to “Chocolate and Tangerine Semifreddo”

  1. Barbara December 6, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    Another winner! When the gelaterias are closed for the winter, now I can just make this semifreddo to hold me over ! and the photos are beautiful too!

  2. Cinzia December 6, 2007 at 12:25 pm #

    LOL Shelley at the description of Italians baffled at the thought of the American girl bringing homemade dessert. I know, we are terrible.
    Anyway I like this recipe too, can you explain what u mean by 3/4 cup mascarpone? Do I need to buy the 250 grams or half kilo confezione…I can’t go to the grocery with my American cup…LOL.
    PS: I also smiled at the thought of having to specify “unsalted” butter, that wouldn’t be necessary in Italy.
    Ciao, keep the blog going. Cinzia

  3. Robert December 6, 2007 at 12:39 pm #

    Looks good. Have not had the courage to try making semifreddo at home yet. Will shelve this recipe until next summer (or a trip to South Africa for guaranteed sun and heat) to try.

  4. sognatrice December 6, 2007 at 12:52 pm #

    Mmmmmm. I’ll definitely be making this when the weather warms up again πŸ™‚

  5. jck December 6, 2007 at 12:56 pm #

    Chocolate and tangerine is one of my favorite combinations.

  6. my melange December 6, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    Oh my goodness!! This looks so great, your photo shots are perfect! Definitely making this one πŸ˜‰

  7. SWT December 6, 2007 at 1:28 pm #

    I’ve had some good success with semifreddo before and I can’t wait to try this one. Thanks!

  8. Something... December 6, 2007 at 1:36 pm #

    I love any Choc-citrus fruit flavours.

  9. Pene December 6, 2007 at 1:41 pm #

    Another pistachio recipe!! Looks too good to eat, doesn’t it? But I want to make this sometime soon.

  10. Judy December 6, 2007 at 2:16 pm #

    that looks insanely delicious. and it doesn’t need an ice cream maker….excellent! grazie!

  11. jessica in rome December 6, 2007 at 2:28 pm #

    That looks wonderful!!!

  12. anna l'americana December 6, 2007 at 2:33 pm #

    Rosa @ Something… – me too! I’m so glad I’m not alone, everyone thinks I’m nuts. I used to get one scoop of gelato al limone and one of ciocolato in the same cup and they would think I was, well, Americana, of course!

    As to this dessert, I don’t know why you all think there is a season for it! Chocolate is universal after all. Why, I’m under a foot of snow in Maine in 18ΒΊF and I’m ready to make it – now if only I could find good fresh mascarpone…

    BTW for the overseas participants: As a substitute for corn syrup in the sauce you might be able to use simple syrup (sugar and water cooked down to syrup), then use unsweetened chocolate…If Gina is reading maybe she can help you guys out with substitutions?

  13. Jenn DZ - Leftover Queen December 6, 2007 at 2:35 pm #

    That looks absolutely delicious, Shelley! Yum!
    I think it is great how so many of us made desserts that our better halves, The Italians love. I guess their opinion should count! πŸ˜‰

  14. Rachel December 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm #

    My son’s b-day is in May, and I’ve already got this on the menu! Of course, I’ll have to “test” the recipe on the first warm day of the season πŸ™‚ I think this is the recipe that clinched this as a must-have cookbook!

  15. Wendy December 6, 2007 at 2:38 pm #

    Oh delectable, I think the photos turned out great and the drizzling would be how I drizzle. Yum, yum, yum,

  16. tweir December 6, 2007 at 2:50 pm #

    Oh my goodness that looks good! All that chocolate!!

  17. Stacy December 6, 2007 at 2:58 pm #

    Man that makes my mouth water! delicious

  18. qualcosa di bello December 6, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    i think you food shots are just lovely! & i must say this is my absolute favorite featured recipe thus far. i cannot get enough of the flavor combo of chocolate/tangerine (just did that in biscotti last week). please tell me where you found the tangerine liquer…i plan to bring some home with me!

  19. cbright67 December 6, 2007 at 3:16 pm #

    Ok, this sounds dangerously delicious. I like the idea of making it in the warm months and enjoying it sitting outdoors…ahhhh.

  20. alexmom December 6, 2007 at 3:24 pm #

    Mmmmmmm……..chocolate!!! There’s never enough!

  21. megan December 6, 2007 at 3:54 pm #

    Another exceptional recipe. I already made the pound cake and the salami. Looks like I’m going to make my first Semifreddo. This sounds like another winner.

  22. Giulia December 6, 2007 at 4:08 pm #

    The Puss ‘n’ Boots face works like a charm!

  23. nyc/caribbean ragazza December 6, 2007 at 4:17 pm #

    Yum!! I know you say this is easy but it still looks a little complicated to me. πŸ™‚ Nice pics.

    I laughed out loud regarding the McD’s comment.

  24. Anali December 6, 2007 at 4:29 pm #

    Oh this looks so good even though it’s only 23 degrees outside! And I have to ask what kind of car you won??? You really do have great contest luck! My last big prize was a DVD player. I was so excited! And it’s nice to hear how you represented us American girls with your secret weapon! ; )

  25. Janie December 6, 2007 at 4:31 pm #

    Your photos are great and I am such a chocolate fiend that I want to go out today and buy the ingredients. Ho l’acquolino in bocca!

  26. Lilian December 6, 2007 at 5:25 pm #

    Shelley, after reading the post on the scrumptious semifreddo, my eye wandered down to the two previous posts–and I couldn’t stop laughing. What delightful humor. I also enjoy your commentary on the Italian language. As for Dolce Italiano, I can’t wait to read the rest of the book…so appetite-whetting have these featured recipes been.

  27. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy December 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm #

    Hey lady…lookin’ good! I am not a fan of orange and chocolate, but I think tangerine could be really good…and your pictures seriously inspired me to get going on it! πŸ˜€ Maybe I’ll bring the book down to the in-laws’ this weekend and whip something up. πŸ™‚

  28. The Food Hunter December 6, 2007 at 5:53 pm #

    This looks delicious and not to hard to make. I’m going to try this soon. The one good thing about living in Arizona is it’s so hot you can have ice cream and such all year long πŸ™‚

  29. Jenn December 6, 2007 at 5:56 pm #

    This looks delicious! Thanks for hosting this recipe contest. I have enjoyed getting some new dessert recipes as well as enjoying finding some new blogs to read.

  30. Beth December 6, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    Is Gina coming to visit again in Rome?
    Do you think we could get her to do a demo in someone’s kitchen?

  31. Susan from Food Blogga December 6, 2007 at 7:45 pm #

    I just came back from an hour’s workout at the gym. In spite of that, I would eat a bowl (a large one at that) of your semifreddo right now. Then I’d have to go back to the gym for another hour. But it would be worth it. BTW-I was perusing Gina’s cookbook yesterday, and it’s just fabulous. If you’re interested in winning Sherry Yard’s new cookbook, check out my site to see how. It’s not autographed like yours, but it’s fabulous too.:)

  32. Kathy December 6, 2007 at 9:12 pm #

    Oh my goodness that looks delicious! I’m also not a fan of orange and chocolate, but I too think the tangerine would be good.

  33. Maryann December 6, 2007 at 9:20 pm #

    It looks decadent πŸ™‚ Happy Holidays!

  34. ilva December 6, 2007 at 9:36 pm #

    One of the great aspects of this event is seeing what you made and realizing that I have to try all 8 of the recipes and some of them I wouldn’t even have considered making! Like this, I just have to make it, it looks gorgeous!

  35. Gil December 6, 2007 at 10:10 pm #

    All of this sounds so good, especially when I have get my glucose checked in the next few days!

  36. Colleen December 6, 2007 at 10:46 pm #

    What delicious looking semifreddo. will have to add this to my rapidly growing list of things to make before Idid πŸ™‚

  37. finnyknits December 6, 2007 at 10:48 pm #

    I just went ahead and drooled all over my laptop. That looks AWESOME!!! And I can even see Ale making that sad pouty man face at you so that you’d make this instead of pumpkin fritters.

    Because, who wants pumpkin when you can have chocolate? Nobody, that’s who.

    I think I need to find Gina’s cookbook now. If this is in there, WHAT ELSE COULD THERE BE?

  38. Tea December 6, 2007 at 11:59 pm #

    Ahhhh, he made THE face!! Of course you couldn’t resisit! :)) And I have to admit, he has a good taste, this is just…ah, I love italian sweets…

  39. SalemHouse December 7, 2007 at 3:46 am #

    I have never tried semifreddo, but this looks like a great place to start!

  40. sugarlaws December 7, 2007 at 4:02 am #

    delicious! i’m going to need to go on a diet just from looking at this… πŸ™‚

  41. Joannie December 7, 2007 at 5:21 am #

    I’m all about making something that’s going to get compliments and boost my ego! Looks very yummy!
    But after you mentioned the pumpkin fritters , I thought “I want to see those, too!” … I guess I just need to buy the cookbook! (or pray I win it!!)

  42. Liz December 7, 2007 at 5:38 am #

    That looks heavenly!

    I have never been a fan of semifreddo recipes since all my attempts have often ended up unmitigated disasters(!!!) but this has definitely convinced me to have another go!

    Grazie mille! πŸ™‚

  43. Jeni Hill Ertmer December 7, 2007 at 6:11 am #

    Question – what the heck is mascarpone?
    And, if I am going to try this one, looks like I’ll have to stock in some more liquor for the cabinet too! Not that there’s anything wrong with that mind you! Looks scrump-delicious! Sounds even better too!

  44. Mary December 7, 2007 at 9:06 am #

    This looks fantastic. I’m definitely going to have to try it once the weather warms up a bit.

  45. Shelley, At Home in Rome December 7, 2007 at 9:44 am #

    Thanks for all the comments! See, the ego-boosting power of this recipe just keeps going and going…

    Cinzia: I have a few measuring cups I brought from the States so I didn’t actually convert the recipe to metric, and I am finding varying measurements to convert 3/4 cup to exact grams. My suggestion would be to get a cup about the size of a Nutella jar and fill it 3/4 full. I realize that’s kind of primitive but I’m not sure of the exact metric equivalent.

    Anali: I won a 1995 Geo Tracker (in ’95) which here in Italy is known as Suzuki Vitara. It was a cute green convertible top. Not the most practical car in the world, but fun since I was going off to college. I won it in a national contest held by the lab that my photographer used to process my high school graduation photos. I almost didn’t enter and at first gave the form back, saying “I’d never win something like that” but in the end, I was the one! Pretty incredible.

    Jeni Hill: Mascarpone is a soft Italian cheese, like cream cheese. It is also used in tiramisΓΉ. It can be kind of hard to find sometimes in the States unless you have a large supermarket nearby.

  46. Judith in Umbria December 7, 2007 at 9:57 am #

    Oh, oh, ohhhhh! I am yours, semifreddo recipe!

  47. MyKitchenInHalfCups December 7, 2007 at 12:13 pm #

    What a great story about the American girl bringing the dessert!
    And my goodness what photos of chocolate & cream and the semifreddo!! Easy to see how you would win over the Italians even!

  48. daniela December 7, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    finally, something i maybe would pass on. i never loved chocolate and orange together, I will spare everyone that sense memory experience that has lead me here…

  49. Emily + Grace December 7, 2007 at 4:07 pm #

    this website is so cool. but we dont understand why the heck puss in boots is on a chocolate and tangerine recipe!!!!

  50. jen in MI December 7, 2007 at 5:08 pm #

    Oh… this one might be my favorite yet! And frighteningly, I have all the ingredients. Uh-oh.

  51. cheeky December 7, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    Congratulations on getting compliments from your Italian friends. One doesn’t have to know anything about Italy at all to know that Italians LOVE their food and definitely have opinions about how it all should taste, be prepared and with what ingredients, etc.
    I was cracking up at the whole American girl, McDonald’s and gun thing. LOL
    You all have really made me want this cookbook now.

  52. Deborah December 7, 2007 at 7:02 pm #

    I have never made a semifreddo before, but now I want to!!

  53. Bellini Valli December 7, 2007 at 10:55 pm #

    Oh my goodness. What an abosolutely delicious loo9king semifreddo! Thank you so much ladies for bringing this cookbooks to our attention!!

  54. Colleen December 7, 2007 at 11:34 pm #

    I see a few queries in the comments about the unavailability of corn syrup. What about using liquid glucose as a replacement? You should be able to purchase it at the pharmacy – thats where I buy mine in South Africa. Hope this helps πŸ˜‰

  55. Cris December 8, 2007 at 1:43 am #

    Decadent! Oh my your pictures have us drooling here. Beautiful!

  56. blogdolci December 15, 2007 at 8:10 pm #

    i want to say:

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