Orange blossom, honey & baklava semifreddo


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: Serves 6 - 8

I know that at the moment in some countries it’s very cold, but here in Dubai we spend a mild winter, blue sky and temperatures of 29C which allow us to enjoy the sea. Which is impossible during the summer when  temperatures sometimes reach 48C.

The recipe of the day is a Semifreddo with Middle Eastern touch, flavored with orange blossom, honey and baklava.

It’s the perfect dessert to end a meal on a note of freshness and indulgence.

 What is the Semifreddo?

Semifreddo, this Italian frozen dessert, was created around the 19th century, but only gained popularity in the early 20th century.

Its origins can easily be traced back to the Italian Renaissance, with Bernardo Buontalenti as its creator, it is also considered to be the precursor of modern ice cream.

The word Semifreddo which means “half-cold”, is used to group together Italian desserts served frozen or cold.

The semifreddo has the texture of an frozen mousse.  Made with egg yolks, sugar and cream.  It comes in an infinite variety of ways and does not require an ice cream maker.

It can be based on pate a bombe (sugar syrup at 120 C added to whipped egg yolks), or based on Italian meringue, egg whites ,montato a neve, over which sugar syrup at 120 C is added and mixed,  as you can cook eggs in sabayon « Zabaglione » in italian.

The recipe of the day:

 If you’re looking for a light, easy, and make-ahead dessert, this is the one!

The recipe I’m sharing with you is that of “Sami Tamimi” taken from his latest book “Falastin”, a orange blossom semifreddo with in the middle a layer of walnut and pistachio baklava flavored with  cinnamon and cardamom, served with orange segments, pomegranate seeds and mint.

There are steps to follow, but none are complicated.  The only one that needs monitoring is making the syrup, but if you have a thermometer it will be easier.

Start with the semifreddo, make a syrup with the sugar, honey and water.  Whisk the egg yolks until they turn pale and creamy.  Once the syrup has reached 120C, pour it over the eggs and continue to whisk until the mixture has cooled completely. Then add the whipped cream.

Pour half of the preparation into a previously wrapped mold. Leave to set in the freezer for 2 hours. Reserve the other half in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the baklava, mix all the ingredients together until you get a crumble.  Cover the semifreddo with baklava, then pour the other half on top and let set overnight in the freezer.

Serve with the orange salsa.

This is a basic semifreddo recipe from which you can make a lot of variations.

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Orange blossom, honey & baklava semifreddo

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Total time: 24 hours 40 minutes
  • Serves: Serves 6 - 8

Semifreddo, this frozen dessert very easy to make and doesn’t require an ice cream maker.
However, it takes one night in the freezer, for it to set.

Ingredients :

Semifreddo :

  • 250 ml double cream
  • 70 g caster sugar , ( 60g for me )
  • 40 g mild runny honey , (Acacia for me )
  • 3 eggs , ( 1 whole + 2 egg yolks)
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp orange blossom water , (2 Tbsp for me )
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 lemon, finely grated ( personal addition)

Baklava filling :

  • 90 g pistachio kernels , toasted
  • 60 g walnut kernels, toasted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 2-1/2 Tbsp mild runny honey , (Acacia for me)
  • 1 Tbsp orange blossom water

Orange salsa (optional)

  • 2 oranges
  • 80 g pomegranate seeds, ( half will be enough)
  • few mint leaves , roughly torn

Method :

Orange blossom semifreddo :

  • 1)

    Lightly grease and line the base and side of a 200 cm loaf tin. Set aside until ready to use.

    First make the semifreddo, put the cream into the bowl of a free-standing mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until medium peaks form. Transfer to a separate bowl and keep in the fridge until needed.

  • 2)

    Put the sugar, honey and 2 Tbsp of water Into a small saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then leave to simmer for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until bubbles form and the mixture becomes foamy and glossy (if you have a thermometer use it at this stage the syrup is at 120C).

    After 3 minute, add the egg and the egg yolks to the wl of freeanding mixer. Beat on a medium-high speed for about 3 minutesntil pale and creamy. Reduce the speed to medium-low speed and slowly pour in the bubbling hot syrup (120C – whichh will have been cooking for 5-6 minutes by now).
    Once the syrup is completely incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat for about 6 minutes, until the mixture is pale, glossy and the bowl is cool to touch.

    Using a spatula fold in the orange blossom water and whipped cream until just combined.

    Put half the mixture into the prepared tin – about 200g- and smooth out the the top. Wrap with baking parchment and freeze for at least 2 hours. Refrigerate the other la of the mixture In a separate bowl until needed.

Baklava filling :

  • 1)

    Meanwhile make the baklava filling, put the pistachios and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor and blitz roughly until crumbled.

    Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the spices, flaked salt, honey and orange blossom water.

    Once the semifreddo has been in the freezer for 2 hours, gently top It with the baklava filling. Spread it out so that the top is covered, without pushing it in.


    Remove the reserved semifreddo from the fridge, give it old whisk by hand, then pout it over the baklava filling. Spread it out until smooth, then wrap the pan with baking parchment and freeze overnight.

If you have the ice-cream maker :

  • 1)

    If now you have an ice cream maker and you want to use it this will save you time: I also tried and the result was perfect.
    Churn the semifreddo following the manufacturer’s instructions (about 30 minutes).
    Fill the mold (previously covered with cling film) with half the mixture  (200 grams), cover the top with the baklava then pour the rest of the semifreddo. Put a sheet of baking paper on top before covering everything with cling film and placing in the freezer overnight.

Orange salsa :

  • 1)

    To make the salsa, if using, use a smallharp knife to trim the tops and la off the oranges. Cut wn along their round curves, removing the skin and white pith. Release the segments by slicing between the membranes and transfer them to a bowl, discarding any pips and squeezing what’s left  the membranes to release any liquid into the bowl. Just before serving, add the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves to the salsa and then either spoon it in a line along the top of the semifreddo or serve along side.

    Enjoy !!

Tricks & Tips :

  • Sami Tamimi makes his salsa with supremes of two oranges, pomegranate seeds and the juice from the membranes of oranges.  Personally when I tried this version I found that there was too much liquid and it didn’t match with the photo published in his book. The syrup on top had the consistency of honey, not juice.  Besides, I think he decorated with honey.
    So either you do the same, you decorate with 1 tablespoon of honey, or you make a reduction instead of a simple orange juice, I tried on my second try and it was  very good.
    Pour the orange juice collected from the membranes and add the juice of 2 oranges in a saucepan over medium heat and let reduce, the mixture will be syrupy and a little thick.
    Keep it in the fridge until serving.
  • This semi-freddo will keep for up to two weeks in the freezer.
  • The double cream must be very cold, I advise you to put the bowl and the whisk in the freezer 30 minutes before whipping the cream.
  • Here you are going to use a whole egg + 2 egg yolks cooked with a syrup of sugar and honey, bring a thermometer to make it easier.
  • Grease the mold with a little neutral oil so that you can easily cover it with cling film.
  • Before serving the semifreddo, remember to put your dish in the freezer so that it is very cold.
  • You can also use the same base, without the baklava and serve with a red fruit coulis.
  • If you have an ice cream maker and you can use it, this is what I did on my second try.
    In this case, start with the preparation of the baklava and then the semifreddo.
  • Freeze the egg whites for later use, or to make these “amaretti with honey, citrus and orange blossom ” by Ottolenghi 
  • Here are the changes to this dessert:
    For the ice cream instead of 70g of sugar I put 60g
    I added the zest of half a lemon to the egg mixture, for extra freshness (and to mask the smell of the eggs, which I don’t like too much).


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