Think of this raspberry pistachio semifreddo as a spectacularly elegant no-churn ice cream. It’s gorgeous, easy-to-make, and memorable—and best of all, it can be made year-round using frozen berries!
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If you’ve been visiting my site for a while, you know that I love gelato with all my heart. I’ve always got a container of home-churned, silky-smooth Italian ice cream in the freezer, and my pick of flavors follow the seasons. I make super refreshing gelati with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries in the summer, and I go for comforting flavors such as chocolate and citrus fruits in the winter.
While my guests will always be delighted if I top off dinners with a couple of scoops of homemade gelato, sometimes I want to serve a super-fresh, frozen dessert that steps it up a notch in terms of elegance. Here enters the Italian frozen mousse dessert called semifreddo. Not only will the name of this dessert roll off your tongue, but it will coat it with its silky smoothness, too!
For many people, the best thing about semifreddo is that it doesn’t require an ice-cream maker to make. Yep, there’s no need for special equipment to make that breathtakingly gorgeous dessert, just a good old beater to whip up the meringue and whipped cream to create that light-as-air, melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Semifreddo can be flavored a thousand different ways—which is why I love the Italian dessert so much. This Raspberry Pistachio Semifreddo is my go-to flavor combination though. The contrast between the soft green color of pistachios and the deep fuchsia hue of raspberry is simply breathtaking.
What’s great about this pistachio semifreddo is that you can make it year-round. Freeze raspberries at their peak in the summer, and you’ll always have some on hand to inject flavor in this lovely semifreddo. You can also, of course, purchase quality frozen raspberries and use them in the dessert for a delicious result.
Think of this pistachio semifreddo as the most delicious, most elegant no-churn ice cream. It’s gorgeous and memorable, and it remains the perfect, ready-to-eat texture when fully frozen, which means you can slice it right as it comes out of the freezer. By the time you bring the plates to the table, your guests will get to enjoy the semifreddo at its very best temperature and texture, and all you’ll have to do is reap the compliments—and enjoy your own pistachio semifreddo slice, too! 😉
Helpful Tips for Making Raspberry Pistachio Semifreddo
Don’t skip that soaking step: Making the pistachio paste requires you to soak the pistachios. Don’t skip this extra step: soaking the nuts makes them tender and easier to blend into a super-smooth pistachio paste, which is the very foundation of this silky-smooth pistachio semifreddo.
Peel the pistachios—if you have the patience for it: Most shelled pistachios come partly peeled. If you look closely, the nuts still have a thin skin over them. After soaking, that skin becomes more obvious, and it’s actually super easy to peel the pistachios by squeezing them between two fingers. Removing those skins makes for an extra-smooth pistachio paste, which results in an extra-smooth pistachio semifreddo. So if you have the time and patience for it, remove those skins. It’s worth the extra effort!
Fold, don’t beat: Be extra gentle when you combine the meringue, whipped cream, and pistachio paste. The key to the fluffy texture of pistachio semifreddo is the airiness of both the meringue and whipped cream components. If you beat these ingredients together instead of gently folding them together, you’ll lose a lot of that essential airiness. So pick up your spatula and get that folding motion going. It’ll take a bit more time to fully incorporate the components together, but I promise your patience will be rewarded!
Not a fan of raspberries? Use strawberries instead: This pistachio semifreddo would be equally delicious and spectacular if you swapped in strawberries for the raspberries. Simply use an equal amount of strawberries (it’s easier to make the swap if you weigh the berries since they’re very different in size), and make sure to dice the strawberries quite small before you layer them into the semifreddo. Biting into a whole frozen strawberry can be tough for the teeth!
For the raspberry puree: Add the raspberries and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth. (You can also do this using a stick blender.) Push the raspberry puree through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the seeds. If using, stir in the raspberry liqueur. Refrigerate until needed. (You can prepare the raspberry puree up to a day ahead of time.)
Line a 9 x 5-in (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan with two strips of parchment paper, one coming up the short sides of the pan, the second one overlapping at the bottom, but coming up the long sides of the pan. (You can also line the pan with plastic wrap but the sides of the semifreddo once unmolded won’t look as smooth.) Set aside.
For the pistachio semifreddo: First, soak the pistachios. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the shelled pistachio nuts and simmer for two minutes. After two minutes, drain and rinse the nuts under cold water to cool them completely.
Dry the nuts with paper towels. Peeling the pistachios is optional but using the nuts with the skin on will change both the color and texture of the pistachio semifreddo (it won’t be as smooth). To peel a pistachio, simply pinch it between your fingers: the skin should come right off. This step takes a bit of work, but it's worth it. Alternatively, you can look for peeled pistachios, which are slightly more expensive than regular pistachios, but are going to save you some time. (It is still necessary to blanch peeled pistachios).
Once the pistachios are blanched, peeled, and cooled, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor with ¼ cup (50 g) of the sugar. Pulse until the nuts are very finely ground, stopping from time to time to scrape down the bowl. Set aside.
In a clean, stainless steel bowl, add the egg whites. Beat until foamy, then add in ½ cup of the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating about 30-45 seconds between each addition and repeating until you’ve incorporated all the sugar. Keep beating until the meringue is shiny and forms sift peaks that ever so lightly droop at the top.
In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream with the remaining sugar (¼ cup) and the vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Using a spatula, fold the meringue into the whipped cream, then incorporate the ground pistachios.
To assemble: In the prepared pan, spread 1/3 of the pistachio semifreddo over the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with 1/3 of the raspberry puree, then sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped pistachios and 1/3 of the raspberries.
Repeat these steps once, then finish by spreading the remaining pistachio semifreddo mixture as the final layer. Level out the top and carefully fold the overlaying parchment paper over the semifreddo to protect it. (Save the remaining raspberry puree, chopped pistachios, and raspberries for serving.) Freeze for at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. Pistachiosemifreddo will keep fresh in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
SERVING: Take the semifreddo out of the freezer. Carefully peel the parchment paper covering the top of the semifreddo. Slide a thin knife between the parchment paper and a side of the pan and run the knife all around the semifreddo to loosen it. Invert the pan over a serving dish, then lift it to unmold the semifreddo. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and discard.
Drizzle the semifreddo with the remaining raspberry puree, then garnish with pistachios and raspberries. Serve right away, using a serrated knife to slice thick pieces for each guest. Return any extra semifreddo to the freezer right away.
ADDITIONAL SERVING IDEA: You can create scoops of this pistachio semifreddo, just as you would serve ice cream. It will look beautifully rippled and be just as amazingly delicious. Serve it in bowls with extra raspberry puree, pistachios, and fresh raspberries, or over an ice cream cone.
STORAGE: Wrap leftover semifreddo with plastic wrap, or transfer to an airtight container. Enjoy within 2 weeks.
NOTE: This recipe uses a French meringue, which means the egg whites are not cooked before they’re added to the pistachio semifreddo mixture. If you’re worried about using raw egg whites, you can use liquid egg whites(egg whites sold in cartons), which are pasteurized.
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