Lemon Semifreddo

I make this dessert every summer, without exception. Bright, cold, with a fabulous texture, and seriously lemony – a real slice of summer.

This is adapted from a classic Giada De Laurentiis recipe, though I’ve dispensed with the amaretti biscuit base. The dreamy texture is too perfect without the interference of the crumbly biscuits. I have, however, been known to pass around a bowl of amaretti biscuits alongside. Somehow it suits me to keep the elements separate.

Feeds 8


Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lime
8 large egg yolks
½ cup + ¼ cup sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp limoncello liqueur
Pinch of fine salt
250ml double cream


Start by lining a standard loaf tin with cling film, allowing the cling film to drape over the sides. Set aside.

Set up a just-simmering saucepan of water that will later become your double boiler. Prepare an ice bath in the sink or in a large bowl.

Zest the lemon and lime, then leave the zest to one side for the moment. (It’s far easier to zest a whole fruit than a cut one later on.)

To a metal bowl, add the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, limoncello and a pinch of salt. Whisk together, then place the bowl on top of the pot of simmering water. Cook for about 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and creamy. Place the bowl into an ice bath and stir until cooled. Stir in the zest.

In an electric mixer, whip the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks. Fold in about 1/4 of the whipped cream to the cooled lemony custard, then add the rest of the cream and gently fold to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, then fold back over the cling film. Freeze for at least 8 hours, or up to 3 days. Unwrap and place on a platter, let stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Make ahead: As you’ve probably gathered by now, this is a mandatorily make-ahead dessert. It can be made as late as the morning of, but ideally throw it together the day before. Don’t make it too far ahead as the texture can go a bit grainy. Two days ahead is probably the earliest I’d advise.

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