Limoncello Semifreddo

Desserts are not a regular part of our meals, but when we entertain, I feel like I need to finish off the meal with something sweet. Since many of the meals I plan for guests are multi-course affairs, I try and keep dessert light, and prefer to make something I can prepare ahead of time. Tiramisu and Panna Cotta are two desserts I often make for guests because they can be prepared the morning of or even the day before our dinner.

A couple of years ago, I added Limoncello Tiramisu to my list of desserts I make for guests, and it always gets rave reviews. Limoncello is a liqueur made by infusing grain alcohol with lemon peel, then mixing it with a sugar syrup. This is a very popular southern Italian dessert wine that has been enjoyed for over a hundred years and works well in many different desserts.

We recently had a group of friends over for pizza night, and I wanted to make something a little different. I came across a recipe for Limoncello Semifreddo and knew I had to give it a try. The dessert was tart, creamy smooth, and got rave reviews so I know I’ll be making it often.

A semifreddo simply refers to a dessert that is semi-frozen and is similar to an ice-cream cake. This is a great dessert to make ahead as it can even be prepared days ahead of time and frozen after wrapping it well. All you need to do is take the semifreddo out of the freezer a half an hour or so before you plan to serve it. After removing the semifreddo from the pan, slice, garnish, and serve!

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Limoncello Semifreddo

Limoncello Semifreddo

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


Soaking Syrup:

  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/3 Cup Limoncello
  • 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
  • Zest From 1 Lemon

Cream Mixture:

  • 1 (325 Gram) Jar Lemon Curd
  • 1 (250 Gram) Package Cream Cheese, At Room Temperature
  • 1 (250 Gram) Package Mascarpone Cheese, At Room Temperature
  • 24 Lady Finger Cookis (Savoiardi)

Lemon Syrup For Serving:

  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • Zest From 1 Lemon
  • 1/4 Cup Limoncello

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar

For Serving:

  • Zest From 1 Lemon


  1. For the soaking syrup, combine the sugar, limoncello, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Cook for 5 minutes, then place the syrup in a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
  3. While the syrup is cooling, place the lemon curd, cream cheese, and mascarpone cheese in a bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Line a 1-pound loaf pan (8 x 4 inches) with plastic wrap, allowing it to overhang the edges.
  5. Once the syrup has cooled, dip each of the lady fingers into the mixture, and line the base of the pan, trimming the cookies as needed to fit.
  6. Spoon half the cream mixture over the lady fingers, then repeat, finishing with a third layer of lady fingers.
  7. Wrap well with plastic wrap and foil, and freeze for a minimum of 6 hours or up to 3 days.
  8. To prepare the syrup for serving, place the sugar, water, zest, and limoncello into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce to a simmer, and continue to cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  10. Set the syrup aside until needed.
  11. Just before serving, beat the whipping cream with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form, then beat in the powdered sugar.
  12. Remove the semifreddo from the freezer 30 minutes before serving.
  13. Cut the cake into 6 slices and spoon a dollop of the whipped cream on each.
  14. Drizzle each slice with some of the lemon syrup, then sprinkle with some of the lemon zest.
  15. Serve immediately.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Dear Deborah,

    It always drives me a little crazy when people don’t follow a recipe as stated at least for the first time. But here I am doing the same thing. Not too far off.
    Since my kitchen is being redone I am basically camping inside. I needed to take a dessert to a friends new home for Easter so it had to be simple and not require baking.
    I made 1 1/2 times the recipe and used a 9×12 pyrex dish. It filled the dish nicely and made a nice presentation for the dessert buffet. I did not include the extra lemon drizzle sauce, but gave them sweetened berries with limoncello and lemon zest along side of it.
    I was able to make it ahead and freeze it which was very handy.
    Living in Fl it is sometimes difficult to find italian items that were available up north. Lady fingers, italian or otherwise were not available so I purchased 2 Entemanns pound cakes which probably made it softer but it was delicious anyway. I used half mascarpone and half cream cheese and in the end I am not sure it made any difference. Maybe next time I will try all mascarpone- how could that ever be bad?
    Anyway, these are just comments of my experience and I wanted to thank you for providing me with a wonderful, memorable dessert for my friends.
    They moaned with pleasure over it.

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