Chocolate and Dulce De Leche Semifreddo

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A frozen dessert that's better than ice cream - chocolate and dulce de leche semifreddo.“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” – Forrest Gump

That is sometimes how I feel when I clean out my refrigerator – I just never know exactly what I am going to get. Unfortunately, most of the time it isn’t something as nice as a chocolate!! Occasionally though, I come across something that is a pleasant surprise – in this case that would be some leftover dulce de leche and some whipping cream. Being the thrifty soul that I am (yes, dear I can hear you laughing as I type this!) I figured I simply couldn’t let it go to waste so the next question of course was “what am I gonna do with that”?

Fortunately finding uses for dulce de leche and whipping cream isn’t brain surgery – ice creams, puddings and Chocolate Chili Dulce de Leche cookies all sprang instantly to mind. But I’d been wanting to make a semifreddo and thought this would be the perfect opportunity. For those of you who  aren’t familiar with it, Semifreddo is a frozen dessert that is (at least to my way of thinking) a cross between a mousse and an ice cream and typically consists of meringue, whipped cream and whatever flavoring combination you fancy. Hence, an internet search will turn up hundreds of recipes.

Yikes. Cleaning out the refrigerator was the easy part.

After reviewing a bunch of recipes it was easy to narrow down what I was going to use as my basic recipe – I passed on those that included gelatin (not that I have anything against gelatin but in this dessert it just seemed wrong) and on those that were heavy on the egg yolks since I really wanted something lighter and airier. I finally settled on one from The Essential New York Times Cookbook to use as my starting point – 1)  because I didn’t have to convert mL’s and grams (tough for me when I am adapting a recipe) and  2) because it included a technique for an italian meringue that I’d never tried.

Suffice it to say that I will be using this technique for italian style meringue from now on…to be blunt, it rocks. No drizzling hot sugar syrup into egg whites and hoping I don’t cook them.. those days are now gone!!

Have I lost you or bored you to tears yet? Sorry about that – I tend to “geek out” a little when it comes to technique but in the interests of brevity I think I am gonna just move on to the recipe.

And tell you that it is ONE of the best desserts I have ever made.

And tell you that you really should try it. Today.

And that it is TOTALLY worth splurging on.

And that it would make a fabulous Valentine’s Day dessert…so you can plan ahead.

Chocolate and Dulce De Leche Semifreddo
Serves: 6 - 8 servings
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate, plus 1 - 2 oz. extra for garnish
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup dulce de leche
  • 1½ Tbsp. dark rum
  1. Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a metal bowl over a pan of water (don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl) or in the top of a double boiler. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 140 degrees.
  2. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a mixer and with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed for 20 - 25 minutes until the meringue is cool.
  3. While the meringue is cooling, combine the chocolate and the butter in a metal bowl set over the same pan of water (or in the top of a double boiler) and cook over medium heat until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the dulce de leche. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, combine the whipping cream and the rum and whip the cream until soft peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
  5. If serving as a sliced dessert, line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and stir in the dulce de leche. Fold in the whipped cream. Then fold in ¼ of the meringue mixture and then fold in the remainder of the meringue. If some meringue streaks remain, that is ok! Scrape the semifreddo into the prepared loaf pan or into a plastic container. Cover and freeze overnight.
  7. To serve, remove the plastic and, if using the loaf pan, invert the loaf pan on a platter and peel away the plastic wrap and slice into ½ inch thick slices. If using a plastic container, use an ice cream scoop to scoop portions into dessert cups or glasses. Garnish each with chocolate shavings if desired.
Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook. Traditionally, this is made in a loaf pan and served as a slice. You can serve it that way or place the semifreddo in a container and serve as you would ice cream or you can pour it into your serving dishes and freeze them!


  1. says

    Holy Cow! I just feel in love. That is a Triple D dessert if I ever saw one. You can come hang at the beach anytime you like, just make me this when you do purty please 😀

    • says

      LOL!! I have to admit it is pretty rich… but oh, so good! Definitely will have to come and hang at the beach with you.. and I will, of course, bring this!

  2. says

    Another perfect creamy, chocolate dessert! My girls are going to love you for this:) I usually have all the ingredients at hand (except for dulce de leche), including frozen egg whites:)
    I am eager to try this method for Italian meringue: so far I only attempted the old-fashioned one:)

    • says

      Hi Lana! I love this method – no more worries about cooking the egg whites!! Hope you like the dessert – it was a big hit in our house!!

    • says

      Hi Lucy! Actually there is a story! my great aunt used to work for the Doheny family as their house manager and these goblets were given to her and she in turn passed them on to my mother. You can’t see it in the photo but each goblet has the family’s monogram on it!

  3. Madonna says

    The best you ever made is quiet a declaration. I almost passed on this because it is chocolate, and I can’t seem to find any chocolate without lecithin. However, as I read on I see that I could adopt your technique for other semifredo. I always passed on semifredos because of the egg white issue, but this seems to be the answer.

    Also, I love it when you elaborate on technique. I am more interested in that than the recipe – well almost. Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Hi Madonna,
      Oh yes, you could make this completely without chocolate – you could use just lemon curd for example (no chocolate and no dulce de leche!) or just with dulce de leche – you could even add some toasted nuts to it – it really is a very versatile type of recipe! So glad that someone else loves to “geek out” over technique!!!

  4. Madonna says

    Oh darn, I hit the send button too soon. One question, is it true if you put a little booze (rum) in the frozen semifreddo, or ice cream it keeps it from getting icy?

    • says

      Hi Madonna,
      Yes, alcohol can impede the freezing process! With the semifreddo, even without the rum it would still be softer than ice cream because of the meringue. When making a regular ice cream adding alcohol can be tricky since the ice cream won’t be as firm as regular ice cream !!

      • Madonna says

        Oh good. That is just what I wanted to know. If we do not eat all of the ice cream the first day it gets too hard and icy. So if it keeps it from freezing so solid I will be very happy. Now where is my booze?

        Thanks Nancy.

  5. says

    Wow, this only caught eye because I have dulce de leche, chocolate and cream in the fridge to use up too.

    I don’t recall ever having semifreddo and judging by your description I’m damn sure I would have remembered the experience.

    I also happen to have rum. Perfect, must be fate!!!! Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Debs!

      I do hope you like it – although with Dulce de leche and chocolate that hopefully won’t be hard! It really is easy to make – the hardest part is waiting for it to freeze!

  6. says

    I love that you cobbled together such a beautiful dessert via leftovers you needed to use up in your fridge. I only use the swiss meringue method now – not only easier, but I find the results to be thicker and creamier, especially for frosting cakes or use in mousses, or well, just baked meringues. Love the Essential NY Times Cookbook – fantastic recipe to adapt, and you did it more than justice!

    • says

      Hi Lisa! I have to admit, I’ve never had quite so much fun cleaning out my fridge!! I totally agree that the swiss meringue method is easier and that the results are thicker and creamier – can’t wait to play with it again!

  7. says

    Wow, you came up with this gorgeous recipe after cleaning out your refrigerator? I wish I had found delicious finds when I cleaned mine on Sunday, LOL! Simply beautiful! Hugs, Terra

  8. Madonna says

    Because I have a difficult time finding chocolate without lecithin I decided to make coffee semifreddo using your method. I had a few scary moments when the whites came to temp so quickly. I thought I might have overcooked it, but I made it through. Nancy, this is so good I can’t stop eating it. Thank you so much – Another for my keeper file. BTW I found my chocolate in the back of the pantry, but now who cares.

  9. Jennifer says

    Can’t wait to try this! Thanks so much for sharing. Just an FYI, your meringue technique is actually known as Swiss Meringue, and is the basis of a wonderful, easy buttercream we used to use at a cake shop I worked at. Yum!

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