Recipe: Espresso + Toasted Almond Semifreddo

I really love coffee.

When I was a small child, I would relish visits to my grandparents house…not only for the blackberry picking expeditions and days tromping through the woods surrounding their Sierra foothills home, but, because for breakfast there were often waffles with strawberries and cream AND a mug of sugary milk with a splash of coffee.

That creamy-sweet, slightly coffee flavored mug of goodness was a serious treat. My mom never made it a practice to allow us to have soda, let alone coffee as kids. The only exception (besides trips to grandma and grandpa’s) was when we would go to Baskin Robbins for a scoop–or if we were really lucky, a double–my brother always got a classic kid-friendly flavor, like bubble gum, but I ALWAYS got jamoca almond fudge. Coffee, almonds, and a fudge swirl. So good.

This semifreddo is reminiscent of those childhood days, when coffee-flavored treats felt so mature to my kid-palate. The texture of the semifreddo is somewhere between an ice cream and a mousse–all without the need for a machine to churn it all. It’s flavored with instant espresso, sweet cream, toasty almonds, and creamy almond butter. It’s great on it’s own, but, serving scoops in a puddle of chocolate sauce makes this dessert a touch fancier… Definitely something my young-self would have been into.

Espresso + Toasted Almond Semifreddo

adapted from Pumpkin Semifreddo

I use instant espresso powder in this recipe for ease and because I really like it in desserts.   If you’re feeling fancy, you could definitely brew a few shots, cool, and fold those into the mixture before folding in the almonds and freezing. 

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder–divided

3 Tablespoons honey

3 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons water

3 large egg yolks

2 Tablespoons almond butter

1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds

Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of espresso powder over the cream in a large bowl to dissolve. Once dissolved, whip the cream to medium peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Make an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl. In a large, heatproof bowl whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon espresso powder, honey, sugar, water, and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and the whisk leaves visible tracks. Remove from heat and continue to whisk over the ice bath until cooled. Fold in the almond butter. Stir in about 1/3 of the prepared whipped cream, then fold in the remaining whipped cream, and lastly fold in the chopped almonds. Scrape the mixture into a container, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 4 hours to set.

Spiced Chocolate Sauce

adapted from The Perfect Scoop

I only made a small quantity of sauce, this is 1/4 of the original recipe. 

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped or chips

1/16-1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan combine water, honey, and cocoa powder, bring to a low boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, spices, and vanilla. Can be used warm or room temperature.





  1. says

    I can’t believe I still haven’t made a semifreddo! I have to get with it. And man, does this look amazing. Not only does it look super-tasty, but the styling is perfect! <3

  2. says

    Ha, I was totally the one picking all the little pieces of bubblegum out of my bubblegum ice cream–but only until about age eight. After that: coffee all the way. This sounds like a wonderful combination!

  3. says

    This looks amazing! I’m always looking out for good semifreddo recipes since I don’t have an ice cream maker. I’m definitely adding this to my “To Make” list. Gorgeous pictures by the way :)

  4. says

    Your semifreddo is gorgeous! I’ve only come to appreciate coffee flavor recently because the liquid kind makes me too jittery. Coffee does pair so nicely with chocolate and I’m sure toasted almond is a great side-kick! Marc likes Superman ice cream and I can’t eat the stuff. I’ve heard it’s regional, so I’m wondering if you know about this multi-colored ice cream? They describe it as “frooty” if that’s any indication… :)

    • says

      Thanks Nicole! I used to be able to drink a lot more coffee, but in my old age…not so much, ha. I had to wiki superman ice cream, it’s so vibrant, ha!

  5. nancy says

    the ice cream looks delicious, but i’m sorry, i can’t get over how cute your plates and napkins are. i love the way you (mis)matched them. where do you usually shop for your tableware? do you just pick up random pieces from the flea market?

  6. Faygie says

    I made this last night, and it is delicious!! The only change I made was to leave the cayenne out of the sauce, because I’m probably the only one who would eat it with it.


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