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semifreddo sliced on marble surface with spoons and crumbled almond brittle

Lemon Olive Oil Semifreddo with almond biscotti crust

  • Author: anita | wild thistle kitchen
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours freezing
  • Total Time: 9 hours
  • Yield: 1 9x5 semifreddo 1x


This Lemon Olive Oil Semifreddo recipe with almond biscotti crust is delicious & elegant. Easily made days in advance & sure to wow your family & friends.



For the almond biscotti crust:

  • 4 almond biscotti cookies
  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio organic extra virgin olive oil
  • zest from one lemon

For the lemon olive oil custard:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Filippo Berio organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • zest from one lemon

For the mascarpone cream mixture:

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Filippo Berio organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • zest from one lemon

For the egg white mixture:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For the almond crunch topping:

  • 1 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup water


To make the crust:

  1. First, line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap so that it overlaps on all sides. You will use this overlap to cover the top later, so make sure you have enough.
  2. Place biscotti, lemon zest, and almonds in food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Drizzle in olive oil and mix until you have damp crumbs.
  3. Place this mixture in the bottom of plastic lined loaf pan and press down to make an even layer. Set aside.

To make lemon olive oil custard:

  1. Bring a sauce pan with about 2 inches of water to a simmer.
  2. Meanwhile, in a heat proof bowl (I use metal), whisk egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla bean paste, and zest until creamy and combined.
  3. Place this bowl over the gently simmering water, but do not allow the bowl to touch the water. Whisk constantly and vigorously for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy and  an instant read thermometer reads 170 degrees F.
  4. Place bowl on a towel for stability, and using a hand mixer, beat on high speed for about 7 minutes until bowl is cool to the touch and custard has doubled in volume and become very creamy and pale.
  5. Set this bowl in the refrigerator.

To make the mascarpone cream:

  1. Place mascarpone, sugar, lemon zest, olive oil, and vanilla bean paste in a mixing bowl and beat with hand mixer until very creamy and light.
  2. Add 1 cup cold heavy cream and continue beating until fluffy and light like whipped cream.
  3. Place this bowl in the refrigerator.
  4. Finally, using a clean bowl and clean beaters (you can also do this by hand), whisk egg whites until very light and foamy. Add two tablespoons sugar and continue whisking/mixing until egg whites are fluffy and hold soft peaks.

Bring it all together

  1. Bring all three bowls together. Divide the egg whited evenly between the custard and mascarpone mixture.
  2. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gently fold the whites into each mixture until mostly combined but you still see streaks of white.
  3. Then, add cream mixture to yolk mixture and continue to fold and gently stir until all combined. Be gentle so you don't deflate all of the air we just worked so carefully to incorporate.
  4. Once you have a creamy, cohesive mixture, transfer to loaf pan, carefully cover with plastic, and stash in the freezer for 8 hours.

To make almond crunch

  1. On a parchment or silicon/silpat lined baking tray, place 1 cup toasted, sliced almonds and spread into a thin circular layer about 7 inches in diameter leaving some spaces in between.
  2. Place water and sugar in saucepan over medium high heat.
  3. Bring to boil without stirring. Allow to boil for 6-7 minutes until deep amber/golden in color.
  4. As soon as your sugar is deeply golden, remove from heat and very carefully pour over almonds. Working quickly, move pan from side to side to spread sugar. Don't worry if all the almonds don't get covered. Leave to sit until hardened then break or chop into pieces.


When ready to serve the semifreddo, remove from freezer and unwrap the plastic from the top. Invert onto a platter, lift off loaf pan and remove plastic wrap.

Slice with a sharp knife and serve immediately with optional crumbled biscotti and almond crunch topping.


If you are totally opposed to using raw egg whites, feel free to leave them out. You will still get a wonderful, light and creamy semifreddo with just the custard and cream mixtures. I just like the added lightness they give. and of course it's nice to use up all of the egg and not have extra whites lying around.

If you don't have vanilla bean paste, use the seeds from one vanilla pod, or simply use pure vanilla extract. I just love the little black flecks in the pale yellow custard.

When working with egg whites, it is very important to use a clean bowl and clean whisk/beaters. If you introduce any fat to the whites, they will never whip.

Make sure to zest your (clean) lemons before you slice and juice them.

If making this in advance, I wouldn't go more than a week. And make the almond crunch topping no more than a day ahead as the humidity will cause it to soften a bit over time.

  • Category: ice cream, frozen dessert
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: semifreddo, lemon olive oil semifreddo, lemon semifreddo recipe