Cacao Cherry Pistachio Semifreddo: The Perfect Summer Dessert

You don’t need an ice cream maker to enjoy this tasty frozen treat! Semifreddo is a classic Italian dessert similar to a frozen mousse. The name semifreddo literally means “half frozen,” and it is traditionally made using eggs and whipped cream. The egg mousse base can be any number of flavors from vanilla and chocolate to honey and lemon. Mix in some delicious layers of fruit, crumbled cookies or caramel and you won’t be able to put down your spoon! It’s a shame that this versatile dessert doesn’t get more attention given how simple and easy it is to make!

This Cacao Cherry Pistachio Semifreddo features protein-rich Greek yogurt as the base and incorporates all kinds of nutritious mix-ins including vitamin C-rich cherries and potassium-rich pistachios. This recipe also highlights antioxidant-rich cacao powder and crunchy cacao nibs. Cacao has a dense, chocolatey and almost bitter flavor. It’s less sweet than traditional cocoa powder and offers hints of fruity flavors, making it a perfect addition to this dessert. Cacao is a great source of antioxidants and even contains important vitamins and minerals like magnesium and iron.

With all of these nutrient-dense ingredients, this is a decadent and healthy dessert you won’t want to miss!

Cacao Cherry Pistachio Semifreddo

Recipe developed by Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN

Serves 12

4 eggs, separated
½ cup + 3 tablespoons sugar
1 bar (3.5 oz.) dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
1 ½ tablespoons cacao powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ½ cups full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups frozen cherries, halved
½ cup unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons cacao nibs


  1. Line a loaf pan with foil.
  2. Fill a small saucepan with a small amount of water and place over medium heat. Bring the water to a simmer and set a metal bowl on top of the saucepan above the water (the bowl should not be touching the water) to create a “double boiler” effect.
  3. Add egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar to the bowl and whisk for a few minutes until temperature reaches 140*F. The mixture will become thick and custard-like. Transfer the custard to a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Rinse out the metal bowl and return it to the saucepan of simmering water. Add the dark chocolate and stir until melted.
  5. Fold the chocolate into the custard. Whisk in the cacao powder and cayenne pepper. Whisk in the yogurt and set aside.
  6. Rinse out the metal bowl again and return it to the saucepan of simmering water. Add egg whites and ½ cup sugar and whisk for a few minutes until it reaches 140*F. Remove from heat.
  7. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites for 5-6 minutes until peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into chocolate custard.
  8. Slowly fold in the cherries, pistachios and cacao nibs.
  9. Pour mixture into the loaf pan and cover with foil. Freeze overnight.
  10. Remove semifreddo from the freezer, remove foil and place on a cutting board. For ease, dip your knife into warm water before cutting each slice. Sprinkle with extra pistachios or cacao nibs if desired.

Nutritional info: 249 calories, 30g carb, 11g fat, 9g protein, 40g sodium, 26g sugar

Amari Thomsen on FacebookAmari Thomsen on InstagramAmari Thomsen on PinterestAmari Thomsen on Twitter
Amari Thomsen
Amari Thomsen, MS, RD, LDN, is a freelance food and nutrition writer, recipe developer and author of "Idiot’s Guides: Autoimmune Cookbook." She is a recognized nutrition communications expert with FoodMinds and a health influencer herself as owner of a Chicago-based private practice, Eat Chic Chicago.