Clementine Semifreddo

Frozen Clementine Dessert
Clementine Semifreddo. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 50 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings

This dessert came to me in a dream, and it tasted just as good in real life (well, better, really, since it was true!). There's an option of keeping some of the clementines in slices to use as a decorative top layer; I will warn you it is a bit of a hassle and tricky to pull off, so consider yourself warned if you decide to follow the italicized part. Without that decorative top, however, it's a fairly easy dessert to pull together. The most time-consuming part is caramelizing the clementines, which takes towards half an hour of relaxed simmering.

Not clementine season? Try Plum Semifreddo instead!

What You'll Need

  • 4 clementines
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 4 cardamom pods (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup cream

How to Make It

  1. Prepare an 8-inch loaf pan by lining it completely with plastic wrap. Set it aside.
  2. Chop the clementines (for the decorative layer: cut 8 center slices from 2 of the clementines—chopping the end pieces).
  3. In a large, heavy, wide pan or pot, bring the water and sugar to a simmer, stir just to dissolve the sugar. Add the chopped clementines (and slices) and simmer until the fruit and syrup are caramelized, that is, the sugar syrups has started to turn golden and perhaps a few edges and bits of the clementine start to brown a touch, about 20-30 minutes. Take off the heat. It will continue to cook and brown a bit more off the heat; let it sit about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the syrup from hardening.
  1. While the clementines simmer, separate the eggs. Put the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk well. Heat the milk and cardamom pods (if using) until it just simmers; pour the hot milk in a small steady stream into the yolks as you whisk them constantly; transfer back to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens; transfer back to the bowl. Set over a larger bowl filled with ice and let sit, stirring frequently, until the mixture cools. Remove and discard the cardamom pods.
  2. Once the custard mixture is cooled off a bit, but is still warm to the touch, stir in the clementines and as much of the syrup/caramel as you can scrape out of the pan (if you added slices, use tongs or tweezers to transfer the slices in a single layer to the bottom of the lined loaf pan). The residual heat from the clementines will thin the custard; that's fine. Stir until the syrup dissolves into the custard mixture. Set aside over the ice again to continue to cool.
  3. While that cools, put the egg whites and salt in a large bowl (copper, if you have it) and beat them until they hold soft peaks (you can use a mixer, if you like). Set aside.
  4. Put the cold cream in a large bowl and use a whisk or mixer to beat the cream until it, too, holds soft peaks.
  5. Use a spatula to add the clementine-custard mixture to the egg whites (do this by add them along the side of the bowl, not plopped on top of the whites. Use the spatula to fold the custard and egg whites together; they can be a bit streaky.
  1. Add the whipped cream and fold that is, as well.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan, cover, and freeze until set, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  3. To serve, uncover the semifreddo, set a plate or platter on top of the loaf pan, invert the pan, and turn the semifreddo onto the plate or patter; remove plastic wrap. Cut into slices (you will need to take the decorative slices off the loaf, cut it into servings, and adding the slices to each serving) and serve.