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Cappuccino Semifreddo

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Imagine this…..You have just served your guests an amazing dinner and now it is time for coffee and dessert! Ta-Da….Cappuccino Semifreddo.   A cool ice-cream coffee dessert, rich and creamy with a pronounced coffee flavor and topped with a frothy layer of lightly whipped cream.  Mmmm, this tastes heavenly!

This cappuccino semifreddo is silky smooth, creamy and insanely delicious with a deep coffee flavor that will give your guest their caffeine fix!  It is equal to the most gourmet ice cream and you do not have to pay those high gourmet prices.

Semifreddo hales from Italy and translates to half-frozen.  This is one of the easiest and most elegant desserts you can include in your dessert repertoire.  Plus it takes less than twenty minutes to put this recipe together.  It will take several hours to freeze up, overnight is best which means it is a make-ahead dessert.

Semifreddo is a very versatile creation with the possibility of endless flavors and flavor combinations.  Traditionally, semifreddo is made in a loaf-pan mold with a crust of biscotti.  The filling is made with egg yolks, sweetener, cream and flavors or fruit. 

Semifreddo usually doesn’t freeze as firm as ice cream but that can be a plus as it can easily be scooped or sliced.  The ideas for molds to freeze the semifreddo are as endless as the flavors.  This is a really fun dessert!

Cappuccino Semifreddo

Cappuccino Semifreddo

To create this cappuccino semifreddo dessert we eliminated the crust and used coffee cups as individual molds.  We cooked a mixture of egg yolks and a little sugar over simmering water while whisking air into them to increase the volume.  This took a few minutes to bring it to the temperature of 150F°, pale yellow and the ribbon stage.  Then the egg mixture was cooled down with an ice-bath. 

Instant espresso coffee powder was mixed with a couple tablespoons of hot coffee, and when completely dissolved and cool it was blended into the egg mixture.  Lightly sweetened cream was whipped to the stiff-peak stage, then folded into the cooled egg mixture.   The mixture was portioned into these pretty glass coffee cups, covered with plastic wrap and popped into the freezer overnight.

About one hour before our guests arrived we whipped together lightly sweetened heavy cream and a couple tablespoons of sour cream to the soft-peak stage and refrigerated it until time to serve the cappuccino semifreddo.  

The sour cream is the key ingredient to stabilizing the whipped cream.  The food science behind this is that the acid and extra fat in the sour cream binds with the heavy cream molecules and keeps the air in the whipped cream.  

The sour cream does not affect the taste of the whipped cream at all.  The cream can be whipped and refrigerated in advance and it will stay fluffy for several hours.  No ‘melting or ‘weeping’….isn’t that awesome!

Cappuccino Semifreddo

Cappuccino Semifreddo

When it was time for dessert, and coffee we added a layer of the frothy goodness to the top of each serving and lightly sifted instant espresso powder on top.  If you like coffee, I promise, you will love this cool dessert.

Coffee is one of our very favorite ice cream flavors and this cappuccino semifreddo recipe is exceptional.   Any ice cream flavor can easily become a semifreddo flavor!  What are some of your favorite flavors?  We are dreaming of semifreddo Cherries Garcia, Salted Caramel and Strawberry Cheesecake…yum!

More Chilled or Frozen Desserts

Video: How to make Cappuccino Semifreddo


More decadent desserts:  Chocolate Amaretto Mousse    Flourless Chocolate Cake  Blackberry Soup with Buttermilk Custards

Cappuccino Semifreddo

This cappuccino semifreddo is silky smooth, creamy and insanely delicious with a deep coffee flavor that will give your guest their caffeine fix!
4.89 from 35 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 427kcal
Author: Pat Nyswonger


For the Cappuccino Semifreddo:

  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 3 tablespoons of hot coffee or water to dissolve the espresso powder
  • 8 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup 150g sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream

For the Whipped Frothy Layer:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat sour cream * See Note
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


Get everything ready:

  • Put six 6- ounce serving cups in the refrigerator to chill
  • Prepare an ice-water bath in a large pan or bowl and reserve.
  • Put a small bowl and the beaters of the electric mixer into the freezer to chill while preparing the egg mixture.

Make the Semifreddo

  • In a small dish, add the espresso powder to the hot coffee or hot water. Stir to dissolve then refrigerate to cool.
  • In a medium-size heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, vanilla, and salt together until smooth. Set the bowl over a deep saucepan of simmering water and attach a candy thermometer to the bowl. Be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water as it will begin scrambling the eggs. Whisk continually, until the egg mixture is pale yellow, thick and creamy. This will take about 8-10 minutes. Do not give up! When the thermometer reaches between 145°F to 150°F remove the bowl from the simmering pot and set the bowl into the prepared ice-water bath. Continue to whisk the egg mixture until it has cooled completely. 
  • Stir the cooled coffee mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Remove the chilled bowl and the beaters from the freezer and add the cream and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Beat the mixture to the stiff-peak stage. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the egg-coffee mixture, then using a spatula, fold the remaining whipped cream into the egg-coffee mixture. Be gentle so as to not deflate the whipped cream but continue to fold until there are no visible white streaks.
  • Remove the cups from the refrigerator and portion 1/2 cup the mixture into each of them filling to within 3/4-inch from the rim. Transfer the filled cups to the freezer and freeze for at least 6 hours. Overnight is best. 

To make the Whipped Frothy Layer:

  • To a pre-chilled small bowl, add the 1/2 cup of cream, the sour cream, vanilla and sugar. Whip the mixture to the soft-peak stage. Cover the dish and refrigerate until serving the dessert.

To Serve:

  • Remove the cups of Cappuccino Semifreddo from the freezer and spoon the frothy whipped cream on each dessert to the top of the cup. Smooth to a thick layer. Using the finest mesh sieve possible, sift a light dusting of espresso powder on each dessert. Enjoy!


  1. When whisking the egg mixture, be sure that the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl and that the water is just simmering, not boiling. 
  2. If your electric hand mixer has a whisk attachment it will be very helpful.
  3. When whipping the cream for the cappuccino semifreddo mixture AND the frothy whipped topping it is important to have your mixing bowl and beaters cold. 
  4. The frothy whipped cream can be prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated. The small amount of sour cream prevents the whipped cream from deflating.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 427kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 327mg | Sodium: 123mg | Sugar: 29g

Pat Nyswonger

Pat is a wife, mom of four adult children, and grandmother to seventeen beautiful children. She is a self-taught home cook and loves creating delicious meals for her family and friends. Her kitchen is the hub of activity in her home, and she loves to entertain.

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Tuesday 5th of September 2017

Is there any way to make the semifreddo less runny? I want it to be a touch more firm. Thanks!


Tuesday 5th of September 2017

Monika have you made this yet? This gets pretty firm once it is frozen for several hours but if you want it more firm then add a little more cream

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