Nougat semifreddo with chocolate drops and Marsala’s scent

With nougat semifreddo, there is an almost familial connection.

Semifreddo and, in general, spoon desserts make me think of the lunches that never finished when the adults stayed at the table for hours.

And if the occasion was official, even we children had to remain seated until we were expressly authorized to leave the table.
Those were other times.

As I waited, I thought about the dessert’s moment.
And semifreddo, in all its possible variations of flavors, is a dessert I have always loved.

Nougat semifreddo with chocolate drops

A dessert for all seasons.

At my home, semifreddo could be the worthy conclusion, in the same way, to summer or winter lunch. In the cold season, accompanied by a warm sauce, served apart with berries rather than chocolate.

Among the many possible variations, I consider nougat semifreddo a family recipe.
Being one of my father’s favorite desserts, it never missed for Christmas, Easter, my father’s birthday (in mid-August), and on the occasion of special guests.

Grandma, who loved to prepare each family member’s favorite dishes, would stock up on little nougats (torroncini) before the end of spring, when nougat disappears from store shelves.

It’s a product that suffers the hot summer weather, and so grandma would buy a certain quantity that she would chop up and place in the chest freezer. An appliance that was also a bit of her Aladdin’s cave and about I told about when I wrote the recipe for citrus pork loin (HERE).

She used to prefer to make it with soft nougat or small torrone, in Italy called torroncini, easier to chop. Torroncino is small and rectangular, usually wrapped in paper.

The time of homemade nougat, laid out on a marble cutting board and then wrapped in wafer paper, was already over. I have a few beautiful memories of that process. Mostly olfactory ones.

The nougat semifreddo.

The one nonna made for her son-in-law changed often.
There was the layered version with zabaione and nougat with chocolate drops. And another with whipped cream and Marsala that she mixed with nougat crumbs.

The funny thing is, when I was a kid, I wouldn’t eat any dessert, no matter how good, that contained liquor. But I was crazy for zabaione and the flavor of Marsala, and I still am.

This semifreddo only has a winter appearance.
For sure, the nougat semifreddo she made for my father’s birthday in mid-August was a hit with the guests.

You can serve it in any season, and you’ll see what success is every time.
Of course, as long as you have nougat. In stores specializing in sweets or old grocery stores, it is a product you can find until late spring. At least in Italy.

In Bologna, you can find it at the Drogheria della Pioggia, a place with a flavor as old-fashioned as nougat. If I were you, I would take advantage of it.

Nougat semifreddo with chocolate drops

My version of this semifreddo.

Grandma’s had a warm yellow color. Shades ranged from pastel yellow to school bus yellow, depending on the yolks.

Even if I’ve never particularly loved nougat, those crumbs embedded in the whipped cream, eggs, and sugar made it irresistible.

Today I offer you my version. The one I fine-tuned over the years after I started making the dessert for daddy and family instead of grandma.

I eliminated the raw yolks and some of the sugar.

I add a tablespoon of Marsala to the heavy cream. It enhances the flavor of the nougat even when I don’t put much of it in.

I mix heavy cream and egg whites, both whipped. Egg whites that I bat without the classic pinch of salt.

I do this to keep the egg white from partially disassembling after a few minutes.
If you want, add salt after whipping.

The presence of the egg white is crucial in this semifreddo.
When you put the mold in the freezer, the egg white keeps the whipping cream from freezing. So, when you take it out from the freezer, you can immediately cut it into slices.

It will never be too frozen or too melted.

Follow the recipe, bring nougat semifreddo to your table, and hand out slices of goodness to those who deserve it.

Buona cucina, Monica

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Nougat Semifreddo Recipe

Nougat semifreddo with chocolate drops recipe

serves 6
rectangular mold, 20cm
List of the ingredients

heavy cream, 250 ml
Marsala, 2 tablespoons
sugar, 50 g
finely chopped nougats, 150 g
chocolate drops, 50 g
one egg white at room temperature, about 60g
to decorate: some chopped hazelnuts


Place the heavy cream box and the metal part of the electric whips in the freezer for a few minutes.

Pour the cream into a bowl, add Marsala and sugar, and whip with the electric whips until the heavy cream is well-whipped.

Whip the egg white as well, without salt.

Add egg whites to cream and mix gently from bottom to top.

Combine nougat and chocolate chips and mix with a pastry board.

Wet the bottom of the mold and line with plastic wrap. It should come out from the edges of the mold (if it is wet, this helps to firm the plastic wrap).

Pour in the semifreddo mixture, cover, and place in the freezer for a few hours or overnight.

Before serving, chop up some hazelnuts or almonds to decorate the dessert.

Serving: the semifreddo is ready for cutting as soon as it comes out of the freezer.

Remove the film covering the mold.
Gently move the plastic wrap covering the mold to remove the dessert.
Place a serving dish on top of the mold while the dessert is still in it. Turn over, and remove the mold and foil.
Decorate and serve.

Italian home recipes


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