Recipe: Nonna Constanza's Marsala Semifreddo

By Silvia Nacamulli, July 14, 2011

This tasty recipe was given to me by my aunt Isabella, who inherited it from her delightful Sicilian mother, Nonna Costanza.

It is an easy ice-cream recipe that does not need an ice-cream maker. The end result is what in Italy we call a semifreddo - literally semi-cold. A semifreddo is made with beaten egg yolks, sugar, whipped cream and various flavourings, in this case Marsala wine. It is important to take the semifreddo from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving, so it becomes semi-cold and regains its creamy consistency.

You can replace the Marsala wine with other liquids; coffee - Italian espresso if you can - is my favourite.

Time: 30 minutes plus 12 hours in the freezer.

Serves 6-8 approx.


● 4 egg yolks
● 100g caster sugar
● 200ml Marsala/sweet dessert/Kiddush wine
● 300ml whipping cream


● Separate the egg whites from the yolks - for this recipe we will use only the egg yolks. Beat the yolks with the sugar, by hand or ideally with an electric hand mixer until you have a smooth and creamy consistency. Slowly add the Marsala and gently mix with a wooden spoon.
● Pour the mixture into a saucepan and put it on the stove over gentle heat. Cook it for a few minutes while stirring with the spoon. Once it starts boiling, keep on stirring for a few minutes until the consistency thickens. Switch off, remove from the stove and transfer to a bowl to cool.
● Once cooled, whip the cream until stiff, ideally with an electric mixer, otherwise with a hand whisk, and gently fold into the egg and Marsala mixture until evenly blended.
● Gently pour into a freezable container and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours. To freeze it in individual portions pour into ramekins, silicon baking moulds or plastic disposable glasses.
● Remove the ice-cream from the freezer 20 minutes before serving. Serve alone or garnished with fresh mint and berries.

Last updated: 10:53am, July 14 2011