Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pistachio Semifreddo with Dark Chocolate Ganache - An Ode to Mario Batali and Gina DePalma

By Mrs. Dine O Mite

Make no mistake about it…I am a dessert addict. What’s worse, I think I have dessert OCD. Whenever I find something that I love, I go on countless internet and cookbook searches trying to find replica-like recipes, so that I can recreate the magic at home. After eating what I consider to be the best dessert I’ve ever had at Babbo in New York City this summer, I have been on a quest to make an at home version of their Pistachio Chocolate Semifreddo. I usually come up short on my efforts, but this time, I nailed it. My husband, who isn’t nearly the pistachio fan that I am, couldn’t stop raving about this.

Special thanks for Mario Batali for making this a mainstay dessert at Babbo and to Gina DePalma, Babbo’s pastry chef for creating this masterpiece. This isn’t the exact recipe, but in my dessert aficionado opinion, it comes pretty darn close. Nevertheless, I’ll continue to have sweet dreams of the original and hope to return to Babbo sometime soon to feast on it again!

Pistachio Semifreddo with Dark Chocolate Ganache

**Special Equipment - 5.5in springform pan

For the Chocolate Crust

8 Nabisco Famous chocolate wafer cookies
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place cookies in a baggie and crush with the back of a wooden spoon, the transfer to a small bowl
  • Melt butter and pour onto wafer cookies, mix well with a spoon
  • Invert the bottom of the springform pan and close it tight. (This will allow you to easily slide the semifreddo off of the base once it’s complete)
  • Evenly spread cookie and butter mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool

For the Pistachio Semifreddo
Adapted from

¾ cups shelled roasted and salted pistachios (3 ¼ ounces)
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites (proud to buy ours from the local farmer’s market)
1 cup chilled heavy cream (another farmer’s market find – try to get pasteurized vs.
ultra-pasteurized, if possible)
¼ teaspoon almond extract

  • Pulse 2/3 cup pistachios with 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add remaining pistachios and pulse until just coarsely ground.
  • Beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks (this took a little longer than I thought it would). Beat in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, then increase speed to high and beat until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks.
  • Beat cream with almond extract in a wide bowl with mixer at high speed until it just holds soft peaks. (I took mine a little too far and it began to look curdled…I quick switch from using the handheld mixer to an old fashioned whisk softened out the peaks in the cream to the perfect consistency).
  • Fold meringue into cream gently but thoroughly, then fold in nut mixture in same manner. Spoon into Springform pan and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours.
Health note/disclaimer: • The egg whites in this recipe are not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache

3 oz. dark chocolate (I was pleased to find some Callebaut in bulk at the grocery store)
½ cup heavy cream (prefer pasteurized vs. ultra-pasteurized, if possible)

  • Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a medium metal bowl
  • In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil, then pour over chopped chocolate
  • Mix well. Once cooled slightly, drizzle or coat the semifreddo with ganache.

Garnish with chopped pistachios and savor every bite!


  1. Wow...that looks gorgeous!!!
    I'm such a fan of semifreddos...I wish I could make 'em all the time, if my family didn't get icky with the raw-egg factor!

  2. That looks incredible! Great photos.

  3. OMG this looks fabulous!

    By the way, pasteurized shell egggs are available and they're great. Perfect for this recipe.

    See for info and coupons.

  4. the dark chocolate ganache looks heavenly. i think i could skip dinner entirely and head straight for this thing with a big fork :)

  5. This looks great- How long can you make this ahead of time? Would this be too big to serve one per person at a dinner?

  6. Yes, I'm wondering what the serving size is. I'd like to make this for a dinner party.

  7. Well, we used a 5.5" Springform. As I remember 6 people had decent sized pieces. I don't know that I'd go much past that, unless people didn't want to eat much (8 people). You could easily double the recipe and use a cheesecake sized pan. I hope this helps.

  8. Hi! Your semifreddo recipe was nominated as one of the "Best 300 Semifreddo Recipes on the Net". To vote for it, please visit - your recipe is positioned at #241 (random order).