Coffee Semifreddo with Toffee Sauce and Glazed Chestnuts




Coffee Semifreddo

  • 500ml Heavy Cream (35% Milk Fat Content)
  • 250ml Espresso or Strong Black Coffee
  • 200g Sugar
  • 450ml Mascarpone Cheese (softened, and room temperature)
  • 8 Eggs (yolks only)
  • 1 Lemon (juice only)
  • 3g Salt
  • 75ml Amaretto
  • 25g Dark Chocolate (finely grated)

Toffee Sauce

  • 100g Sugar
  • 100ml Water
  • 50ml Heavy Cream
  • 25g Unsalted Butter
  • 1tbsp Alcohol (Rum, Amaretto, Whisky, Bourbon or Brandy)

Glazed Chestnuts 

  • 100g Whole Chestnuts (roasted, and peeled)
  • 50g Sugar
  • 50ml Water
  • 50g Unsalted Butter


Coffee Semifreddo

  1. Place your egg yolks, lemon juice and salt into a bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for 2-3mins under medium speed until light and foamy.
  2. Place your coffee and sugar into a pan and cook under medium high heat until it reaches 250ºF and becomes a thick syrup.
  3. Begin whisking your egg yolk mixture again under low speed and slowly pour all your coffee sugar syrup into your egg yolks in a thin steady stream.  After you’ve added all your coffee syrup, turn up the speed of your stand mixer to high and continue whisking for approximately 5-6mins until the mixture has quadrupled in volume and has cooled down to room temperature.  Remove and set aside in another bowl.
  4. Add your mascarpone cheese and amaretto to the bowl of your stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, beat under medium speed for 4-5mins until smooth.  Remove and add it your cooked egg and coffee mixture.  Stir gently until well combined.
  5. Add your heavy cream to the bowl of your stand mixer and whisk under medium speed for 2-3mins until stiff peaks.  Remove and gently fold your whipped cream into your semifreddo mixture.  Adding ¼ of the whipped cream in first before adding the remaining ¾.
  6. Pour your mixture into a large bowl/mold or into individual cups, before placing them into the freezer for 4-6hrs to freeze and firm up.

Toffee Sauce

  1. Add your sugar and water into a pan and cook under medium high heat until it turns into a caramel.  The caramel should be a dark amber brown.
  2. Immediately add your butter and heavy cream and stir until well combined.  Cook for another minute before turning off the heat and finishing your toffee sauce with alcohol.

Glazed Chestnuts

  1. Place your chestnuts, sugar, water and butter into a small pan with a lid, and cook over low heat for 15-20mins until the water has evaporated and the sugar, butter and starch from the chestnuts has formed a glaze.


  1. Remove your semifreddo from the freezer.  Fill a large pan or bowl with boiling hot water.  Quickly dip your semifreddo in the hot water for 5-10secs and invert it onto a plate.
  2. Pour some of your toffee sauce around the semifreddo, and garnish with your glazed chestnuts and some finely grated chocolate on top.


  • This is a great dessert to have both in the summer and winter months.  It’s refreshing to have during the summer when you want something nice and cold to eat to help combat the heat.  And it’s sweet and luxurious enough to have in the winter when you want something rich and comforting during those cold winter months.
  • It’s important to use really good quality strong coffee for this dessert.  If you use poor quality coffee, the semifreddo will lack taste, depth and character.  So it’ll end up being flat and one dimensional.
  • You could vary the recipe slightly with some spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, etc to give it a bit of “je ne sais quoi” (translation: I don’t know) as a pleasant and mysterious background note to this dessert.
  • In terms of vessels when freezing the semifreddo, you have a few options.  I simply placed mine in a half cylinder mold and unmolded mine.  You could choose to place it all in a large bowl and freeze it, and simply scoop it out like ice cream or pour the semifreddo mixture into individual cups or bowls and pour some toffee sauce on top for garnish.
  • You can choose to omit the glazed chestnut garnish if you wish, and replace it with some toasted sliced almonds for a bit of texture and crunch.  I simply chose to add it, as this dessert was partially inspired by my trip to Yokohoma Chinatown.  Where the smell of street vendors selling roasted chestnuts filled the streets with aromas of coffee, cocoa, burnt sugar, spice, etc.  So this dessert is a bit of a homage to that memory.



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