Layered Semifreddo Christmas Cake with Berry Sauce & Nuts

Layered Semifreddo Christmas Cake with Berry Sauce & Nuts

Pre-Christmas dinners and catch-ups of a casual nature can pose a quandary in matters of dessert. It’s far too much effort required to make an all-out steamed pudding for a late lunch for four friends. And yet, you want to acknowledge that Christmas is around the corner (two days in this case) and step into festive mode.

I wanted to make a selection of mini flavoured semifreddos (Strawberry & Hazelnut Meringue, Passion Fruit, Dried fig & Saffron, Raspberry Nougat) which along with panna cotta of all sorts remain my quick reflex action dessert options in summer, especially when the rest of the menu is pretty intense.

I came about this picture of an ice cream tower by lovely Jane-Anne of Scrumptious blog and the image sat with me. Instead of making traditional semifreddo or my non-traditional semifreddo (as done with the Strawberry & Hazelnut Meringue above), I combined vanilla ice cream, mascarpone and fresh cream along with Christmassy pudding, roasted nuts topped with a thick berry sauce.

Adapt the layers as you see fit, adding dark chocolate and rum instead of the white chocolate, other nuts and different berries.

If I knew I would have had a moment to take a picture of this dessert and even write about it, I would have been more diligent about demarcating the layers – perhaps by adding a bit of cocoa or a little coffee to the pudding layer.

A word of advice – a silicone mould is a life saver. After leaving the semifreddo out for a minute, all I had to do was tip it over and peel the mould off – no bits were left stuck to it. Note I did spray the inside with non-stick cooking spray.

For the semifreddo

1 litre good quality vanilla ice cream, left out to melt.

2 tubs (25o ml each) whipping cream

1 tub (25o ml) marscapone cheese

1/2 small Christmas fruit and nut loaf, crumbled (store bakeries make these by the dozen)

80 g hazelnuts, roasted

30 ml brandy

80 g white chocolate, chopped

1 t vanilla extract

3 T roasted coconut flakes , chopped (optional)


For the sauce

125 ml caster sugar

125 ml water

16 cherry bombs (cherries soaked in brandy or 16 fresh cherries left in 60 ml brandy)

125 g raspberries (leave 1/3 aside)


Spray inside of mould (average cake size) with non-stick cooking spray.

Whip cream till stiff and set aside.

Beat mascarpone, till loose, adding a little cream in to help the process.

Using a handheld electric whisk or processor, whip mascarpone and remaining fresh cream till mixed. Do not over mix.

Add the melted ice cream and beat till smooth on low-medium speed. (Ice cream is sufficiently sweet, no need to add more sugar I feel)

Divide mixture between two bowls.

In one bowl add the cake, hazelnuts and the brandy and mix well. Pour into the mould and let set in the freezer (I used the power freeze mode and it took around 25 minutes to firm up a bit)

In other bowl, mix through the chocolate, vanilla extract and roasted coconut. Leave bowl in fridge till ready to use.

Once the bottom layer is slightly set and you can pour the next layer over, without the two mixing, do so.

Cover with cling film and leave to set for a few hours or overnight.

Remove a few minutes before you need to serve.

In a pan on medium heat add the water and sugar and heat till all of the sugar is dissolved.

Add the boozy cherries, a little of the liquid or brandy (discard remaining brandy, or drink if you must) and the raspberries.

Cook till the sauce thickens. Set aside and allow to cool.

Drizzle sauce over the semifreddo Christmas cake and serve with remaining raspberries. Scatter around roasted pecans and mini- meringues if preferred.

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By |2017-05-08T12:50:32+00:00December 24th, 2011|Cakes, Cookies & Sweets, Food, Holidays, Recipe Index, Recipes|8 Comments


  1. Jamie December 24, 2011 at 10:28 am - Reply

    Ishay, this is a stunningly magnificent and gorgeous dessert! And I don’t think you can get more festive than this beauty! I love it! I’ve been thinking of making a French vacherin which has much of the same components but yours is so over-the-top beautiful I think you inspired me to do so as well. Perfect! Wishing you a very special, magical and very Happy Holiday Season!

    • Ishay December 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Hello Jamie. Thank you. You know, I made the dessert as a quick fix and it really looks humble as is. Once adorned with the sauce , berries, nuts & meringues, it took on a Christmas pud feel and finally put me in the mood for the festive season. Just in time too! A very happy holiday to you, JP and the boys.

  2. Felicia December 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I love how this is both Christmas-y and summery at the same time, kind of like a frozen trifle. It always seemed odd to me how Anglophone communities in the southern hemisphere keep celebrating Christmas with winter food (don’t they get bloated?)

    • Ishay December 28, 2011 at 12:26 am - Reply

      i know what you’re saying Felicia. I too, naturally associate Christmas with heavy roasts and rich pudding. Influence of the Brits I guess. But many, many homes are lightning it up with barbeques and lots of chilled fruit and ice cream. Have no doubt you had a wonderful feast with your family.

  3. Jane-Anne Hobbs December 26, 2011 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Looks flippin’ delicious Ish. Very festive indeed! Thanks for the mention. x

    • Ishay December 28, 2011 at 12:28 am - Reply

      Thanks Janey. Yours was a magnificent tower indeed- thanks for the inspiration.

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