Learn how to create the traditional semifreddo of Verona consisting of one part whipped cream with one part custard, and the desired flavor.
I’ve enjoyed some wonderful semifreddo desserts in Italy, and when I make them at home, they are always a hit, and surprisingly simple.
The trademark “Pesca di Verona IGP” applies to peaches and nectarines which are certified as to the varietal, sugar content, taste balance, color and size. The IGP regulations guarantee the locale of production, restricting it to 18 communes in the province of Verona. There are a total of 22 varieties, with early, mid and late season availability. They are easily identified by their special packaging. These peaches and nectarines are a big business in this area, involving thousands of farms, over 100,00 tons of product for in excess of 60 million euro annually. Peach desserts are a specialty of Verona, and often include almonds and amaretti, an almond flavored cookie.
Semifreddo translates to ‘half cold’, and refers to an entire class of semi-frozen desserts, with flavors ranging from chocolate to coffee to hazelnut to an endless array of fruit based versions. Today, the majority of recipes I see for semifreddo are made by combining equal parts ice cream (or gelato, if they are Italian) with whipped cream. However, a traditionalist would cringe at these modern versions.
A good semifreddo has a very specific texture, a perfect balance between hard and creamy, lighter and softer than ice cream. Traditional recipes use one part whipped cream combined with one part custard, combined with the flavor component. For semifreddo all’italiana, this custard is an Italian meringue, egg whites whipped with a warm sugar syrup, producing a smooth and shiny meringue.
My cooking is all about maximizing the flavors with a minimum of fuss. I don’t end up with the perfect semifreddo, but I do end up with a delicious dessert without spending all day in the kitchen. Here, I use the classic ingredients – whipped cream, meringue, and a flavor component, pureed peaches with almonds and amaretti. But I just used a basic, simple meringue – no simple syrup, thermometer and determining ‘soft ball stage’, just egg whites mixed with granulated sugar. In the recipe below, I also simply mixed the three main ingredients together – the meringue, the whipped cream, and the peach puree.Print
Kathy Bechtel’s obsession with food and cooking began as a teenager. After years following a traditional career path as a telecommunications engineer, she left to attend culinary school and wine training, and is now combining her passions for food and wine, the outdoors, and travel as owner and Culinary Tour Director of Italiaoutdoors. In this role, Kathy leads small bicycle, skiing and walking tours that explore the authentic regional cuisines, local products and undiscovered wines of Northeastern Italy.