Pistachio Semifreddo


My husband and I have enjoyed celebrating several wedding anniversaries at Volt (restaurant of Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef fame) in Frederick, Maryland while in the Washington, DC area at Christmastime. This year we splurged for the tasting menu to celebrate our FIFTEENTH anniversary! 🙂 One of several desserts we were served was a semifreddo rolled in dark chocolate and pistachios. It had a celebratory candle in it, and was our favorite! It was my introduction to this Italian semi-frozen dessert. Delicious and different. I went home that evening and searched for a recipe to make it myself.

I selected this recipe from Gourmet because it had rave reviews and was similar to the Volt version. Importantly, shelled pistachios are available at Trader Joe’s, making the task much more doable as well. I made it to serve with Pizzelles on New Year’s Eve at a friends’ house. It is such a special dessert and is simple to make. I will definitely make this one again. Great!

Yield: Makes 2 quarts

  • 1 1/2 cups shelled salted pistachios (6 1/2 to 7 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Pulse 1 cup pistachios with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add remaining 1/2 cup pistachios and pulse until just coarsely ground.
  2. Beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, then increase speed to high and beat until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks.
  3. Beat cream with almond extract in a wide bowl with mixer at high speed until it just holds soft peaks.
  4. Fold meringue into cream gently but thoroughly, then fold in nut mixture in same manner. IMG_7004
  5. Spoon into a 2-quart dish, cover with plastic wrap flush on the surface. Freeze, covered, until firm enough to scoop, about 4 hours. Let soften slightly before serving. IMG_7006

Note:  The egg whites in this recipe are not cooked.

One Year Ago:



Pizzelles are wonderful Italian wafer cookies. They are best eaten the day– even within a few hours– after being made, so I usually make them for a crowd. I have also kept the batter in the refrigerator and made them for dessert over several nights- cooked to order. While warm, they can also be molded into cannoli or mini ice cream cone forms. They remind me of snowflakes, so I usually make them in the winter! 🙂 This year, I made them to bring to a friends’ New Year’s Eve party to serve with Pistachio Semifreddo. Pretty and delicious!!

It is tricky to find the perfect amount of dough to use for each cookie, and to get the perfect placement of the dough in the iron, but the edges can be easily trimmed with scissors while the cookie is still warm. I have had success by placing the dough slightly off-center, slightly toward the hinge of the iron before closing. This recipe is adapted from Baking with Julia (Child!), contributed by Nick Malgieri, via PBS Food. I substituted vanilla extract for the anise. It is best to sprinkle the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still warm.

Yield: About 2 Dozen Wafers

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure anise extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 T anisette)
  • 3 ounces (6T) unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the pizzelle iron (I preheat mine set on 4 1/2), and grease or spray it if suggested in the manufacturer’s instructions. (I have a non-stick iron (which doesn’t need to be greased) which is wonderful & less messy!)
  2. Set out a cooling rack for the baked cookies.
  3. Put flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to blend; set aside.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and salt until foamy, then gradually whisk in the sugar. (I often use a hand mixer.)
  5. When mixture is smooth, whisk in the extract, followed by the melted butter.
  6. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the reserved dry ingredients.
  7. Using about 2-3 teaspoons of batter for each pizzelle (I have success using a small (1 T/0.5 oz) cookie scoop), place batter in center of the iron (slightly toward the rear/hinge of the iron), close, and bake about 2 minutes, or until golden and firm. Don’t open the iron until the steam stops.
  8. As soon as the pizzelle is baked, remove from the iron to the cooling rack and continue making pizzelles with remaining batter. Should any of the pizzelles need coaxing to come off the iron, nudge them with a spatula or fork and then peel them off with your fingers.
  9. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving (better while warm).

Note: If you want to cut the pizzelle into quarters or roll them into cones (or trim them to perfect their shape), do so the instant they come off the iron, piping hot and still pliable.


One Year Ago:


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