This smooth and decadent Strawberry Matcha Semifreddo mixes just 6 ingredients for a creamy cold dessert made without an ice cream maker: fresh strawberries, matcha powder, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and heavy cream.
When it's crazy hot outside, this sweet frozen treat is heaven!
What You Will Find in This Post
- What is Semifreddo?
- Semifreddo vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato
- Popular Semifreddo Mix-Ins
- Using Egg Whites vs. Egg Yolks
- How to Cook the Egg Whites in the Meringue
- Step by Step Recipe (with photos)
- Recipe Card
What is Semifreddo?
Semifreddo, Italian for 'half-frozen', is a type of partially frozen dessert intended to be enjoyed cold. It is often made in a loaf tin shape with sauce and toppings, and looks kind of like an ice-cream cake (which it is sometimes mistaken for). The basic ingredients of a semifreddo are egg, sugar and heavy cream.
Semifreddo vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato
Semifreddo is the lightest in texture; it is basically a frozen mousse with mix-ins for flavor. It has more air incorporated in the mixture, giving it the lighter feel.
Ice cream is more dense in texture: it has a higher fat content and lower air content, plus it is churned over time to create the characteristic creamy texture.
Gelato is the most dense in texture of the three - it has the least air incorporated into the mixture as it is churned far more slowly than ice cream. It also contains less cream, and has no eggs in the recipe.
Here are some of my favorite mousse, ice cream, and gelato recipes:
- 4-Ingredient Dark Chocolate Mousse
- London Fog Gelato
- Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
- Hojicha (Roasted Green Tea) Gelato
- Vanilla Date Ice Cream (No Sugar Added)
- Dairy-Free Coconut Hojicha Ice Cream
You'll often find semifreddo with classic flavors like vanilla, chocolate, lemon, and sweet fruit flavors like raspberry or strawberry. It's really easy to experiment with semifreddo and mix in new flavor twists - like this Strawberry Matcha version. You can incorporate peanut butter, pistachio, coffee, hazelnut...really anything that you're in the mood for. Your imagination is the limit!
For my recipe, you can replace the strawberries with any berry or stone fruit, and you can add nuts. You could even leave out the matcha and strawberry for classic plain vanilla. Make it your own!
Should I Use Egg Whites or Egg Yolks?
To determine this, I've tested semifreddo with both! Using egg yolks made the semifreddo come out too heavy and creamy for me. The egg whites provided just the right amount of creaminess and light texture. Overall, I prefer using egg whites. Though, I'm still a big fan of yolks and use them in a lot in other recipes like dark chocolate pudding, ice cream, and gelato.
Cooking with Raw vs Cooked Eggs
Yes, this recipe does contain raw eggs, which is a no-no for some including those who are pregnant, have compromised immune systems, and are older or under 3 years old. So, here I've included instructions to cook the egg white in the meringue portion of the recipe:
- First, whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a heat-proof bowl or in the top piece of a double boiler. Then place over a pot of simmering water (or the bottom part of your double boiler) on a medium heat.
- Make sure the surface of the simmering water doesn't touch the bottom of the heat-proof bowl. This will cook the eggs more than you want.
- Whisking constantly, cook the egg mixture until it reaches 160°F (71°C) on an instant read thermometer, which should take about 10-11 minutes. Do not stop whisking, or the eggs may solidify. If the steam gets too hot over your hand, use an oven mitt. Carefully remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Then, use this mix to proceed with the recipe as normal.
Step by Step
Gather together to following ingredients: egg whites, matcha powder, sugar, strawberries, vanilla extract, and heavy cream.
Begin the recipe with the Strawberry Puree. Add the cut strawberries, a ⅓ cup of sugar, and a pinch of sea salt to a medium saucepan over a medium heat (photo 1). Cover the mixture and cook for about 3 minutes until the strawberries begin to release their juices. Then, remove the lid and cook for another 4-5 minutes until the strawberries are very soft (photo 2).
Let the strawberry mixture cool, then add it to a blender and puree until smooth throughout. Then, strain through a nut milk bag (photos 3 & 4) or a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds (affiliate links open in new tab). Set aside one cup of the puree for serving later. You will use the rest of the mixture in the semifreddo itself.
Next, make the matcha whip. Add the three egg whites to a mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer.) Whip the egg whites until they turn white and begin to stiffen (photo 1 below), then add a ⅓ cup of sugar and whip the egg and sugar mixture until stiff peaks form (photo 2 below). Finally, add 1 tablespoon of culinary grade matcha powder (affiliate link opens in new tab) and mix to incorporate (photos 3 & 4 below). Make sure to clean the mixer or hand mixer before using it in the next step.
Note: This recipe contains raw egg whites. If this is a problem for you, if you are pregnant, serving someone under 3 years old, elderly, or have a compromised immune system, see blog post (above) for directions on how to cook the egg whites properly.
Now, it's time to make the whipped cream. Whip one cup of cold heavy cream in a clean mixer bowl or medium sized bowl. When the whipped cream begins to get stiff (photo 2 below), add ⅓ cup of sugar and vanilla extract. Whip the sugar and cream mixture until stiff peaks form (photo 3 below).
Note: It is important for the mixer and bowl to be clean between making the meringue and whipped cream portions of the mousse or the cream will not whip properly.
Strawberry Matcha Semifreddo
Then you're ready to assemble the Strawberry Matcha Semifreddo. Fold the whipped cream into the matcha mousse, one third of the mixture at a time, until fully incorporated (photo 6).
Very gently fold in the strawberry puree (except the one cup of strawberry puree you put aside earlier.) DO NOT OVER-MIX. You want the puree to be barely incorporated at this stage, because it will mix more as you transfer it into the baking pan.
Did you overmix? If you over-mix the strawberry puree into the mousse, the mixture will still taste good but will not be pretty. Red mixed with green makes brown, and this semifreddo looks better if the red and green stay separated.
Transfer the semifreddo to either a quarter inch baking sheet, or any glass baking dish that is sized 9x13, 9x9, 8x8, 9x5 or a similar size. Cover and refrigerate your semifreddo for at least 8 hours.
Want extra swirls? You can add a couple 1-teaspoon drops of strawberry sauce after you transfer the semifreddo to the baking dish and use a knife or wooden skewer to swirl it into the semifreddo. You will not see these swirls after you use the ice-cream scoop to serve, but they are pretty.
When the semifreddo has set, use an ice cream scoop to serve and drizzle your reserved strawberry sauce over the top. It will taste amazing!
Check out my other favorite matcha recipes like:
- Dalgona Matcha Latte
- Green Tea Ice Cream
- Matcha Peanut Butter Cups
- Bubble Tea with Matcha
- Matcha Mint Julep (contains alcohol)
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Strawberry Matcha Semifreddo
- Add the strawberries and ⅓ cup of sugar to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook about 3 minutes until the strawberries begin to release their juices, about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and cook another 4-5 minutes until they are very soft.
- Let the strawberry mixture cool, then add them to a blender and puree until smooth. Then, strain through a nut milk bag or fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.
- Set aside 1 cup of the puree for serving. You will use the rest in the semifreddo.
Matcha Whip *
- Add the 3 egg whites to a mixer or large bowl if using a hand mixer. When the egg whites turn white and begin to get stiff, add ⅓ cup of sugar and whip to stiff peaks. Then add 1 tablespoon of matcha powder and mix to incorporate. Clean the mixer or hand mixer before moving on.
- Whip 1 cup of cold heavy cream in a clean mixer bowl or medium sized bowl. When the whipped cream begins to get stiff, add ⅓ cup of sugar and vanilla. Whip to stiff peaks.
Strawberry Matcha Semifreddo
- Fold the whipped cream into the matcha mousse ⅓ at a time until incorporated.
- Gently (and barely) fold in all but 1 cup of the strawberry puree. (Remember, you are reserving the 1 cup for serving.) DO NOT OVER-MIX. You barely want this incorporated because it will mix more as you transfer it to the baking pan.
- Transfer to either a ¼ baking sheet, or any glass baking dish that is 9x13, 9x9, 8x8, 9x5 or similar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Use an ice cream scoop and serve with the reserved strawberry sauce.