This low-carb and keto chocolate chip almond semifreddo is sweet and creamy, light and airy, and full of sugar-free chocolate chips and crunchy, toasted almonds. In case you're not familiar with semifreddo, it's a frozen Italian dessert that's a cross between ice-cream and frozen mousse. It's a perfect treat on warm summer days!
This semifreddo recipe, adapted from the famous Marcella Hazan and featured in New York Times Cooking, is a quick and easy dessert to make at home. It has only 6 ingredients and takes about 20 minutes to prepare before going in the freezer to chill overnight.
And no, you don't need any fancy kitchen equipment to make semifreddo — just a few bowls, a hand mixer and a loaf pan. That's right, semifreddo chills in a loaf pan and slices like an ice-cream cake. We love making this dessert on weekends, so we can enjoy it throughout the week. If you haven't tried it yet, you should give it a try!
What Is Semifreddo?
Semifreddo, which means half cold in Italian, is a soft, creamy dessert that is a cross between frozen mousse and ice cream. Semifreddo is similar to mousse since two key ingredients, heavy cream and eggs, are whipped, adding a light, airiness to this frozen dessert. Ice cream, while soft and creamy, is slightly different since it's more dense in texture.
The main ingredients in semifreddo include heavy cream, eggs, and sugar. It's often flavored with fruit, nuts, chocolate, or other flavors and ingredients. It's made in a loaf pan, so it serves like an ice-cream cake.
Since this low-carb and keto version of semifreddo uses a sugar-free sweetener (as opposed to real sugar), it's not quite as soft as your typical semifreddo when pulled out of the freezer. Therefore, we recommend softening it at room temperature for several minutes before eating. But, don't worry, this low-carb and keto semifreddo tastes just as good as the real thing!
Just 6 simple ingredients in the recipe:
- Heavy cream: A must in semifreddo!
- Egg whites: You'll need to use pasteurized eggs from the store since the egg whites are not cooked in this recipe. If you prefer to heat the egg whites before using, we've included directions below. Some semifreddo recipes include egg yolks, but this recipe simply calls for egg whites, which makes for a lighter semifreddo. Eggs should come to room temperature before use.
- Swerve Sweetener: We use Swerve Sweetener in this recipe. Although it does not produce as soft of a semifreddo as regular sugar, it still works. We have not tried other sugar-free sweeteners in this recipe.
- Vanilla extract: Just a little extract for some vanilla flavor.
- Lily's sugar-free semi-sweet chocolate chips: Lily's are the best sugar-free chips out there. You could also use Lily's dark chocolate chips or another flavor chip if you prefer
- Slivered, toasted almonds: We love almonds in this recipe, but you could replace with any nut of choice (such as macadamia nuts, hazelnuts or pecans).
How to Make Semifreddo
Although it's simple to make semifreddo, it's important to follow these steps for best results. Here's what you'll do:
- To start, remove eggs from refrigerator and let them come to room temperature (this helps eggs reach full volume when whipped). Put beaters (from hand mixer) and two large mixing bowls in freezer to chill. Be sure that beaters and mixing bowls are clean before use (to avoid any issues with whipping). Crush sugar-free chocolate chips and slivered, toasted almonds into smaller pieces.
- Next, use chilled beaters and chilled bowl to beat heavy cream, at high speed, to the consistency of buttermilk. Then, add the Swerve Sweetener, a little at a time, while beating, until fully integrated. Continuing beating until stiff peaks form. After, fold in vanilla extract, ⅔ cup of crushed chocolate chips and ½ cup crushed slivered almonds with a spatula. Set aside.
- Thoroughly wash and dry beaters. In other chilled bowl, beat egg whites on high until just stiff. (If you prefer using heated egg whites, see directions below). Fold whipped egg whites into whipped cream mixture. Continue folding until egg whites are fully combined and there are no large visible chunks. Do not overmix.
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper to cover the length of loaf pan. Pour the semifreddo mixture into pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for overnight, or at least 8 hours. Remove from freezer and let soften for several minutes. Run a knife around the edges of pan to help loosen semifreddo. Then, flip loaf pan onto serving platter and pull on parchment paper as needed to release semifreddo from pan. After semifreddo releases, remove parchment paper and sprinkle with ⅓ cup crushed chocolate chips and ¼ crushed slivered almonds. Slice and serve.
Using Raw, Pasteurized Eggs & How To Heat If Desired
Since this recipe calls for uncooked egg whites, be sure to purchase pasteurized eggs from the store. Although many recipes use raw, pasteurized eggs (like ice cream, eggnog and mayonnaise), you can heat your egg whites if you prefer.
To do so, you'll:
- Place a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Be sure bottom of heat-proof bowl is not touching water.
- Add egg whites and continuously whisk until eggs reach 160 degrees F and have thickened.
- Remove from heat, while continuously whisking until eggs have somewhat cooled (just a few minutes).
- Let whipped egg whites sit for 10 minutes.
- Incorporate whipped eggs whites as directed in recipe.
Other Cold Low Carb and Keto Desserts
Here are some other cold low-carb and keto desserts you many enjoy:
- Coconut strawberry popsicles with drizzled chocolate: These dairy-free and keto popsicles are creamy, coconutty, fruity and sweet, and perfect for hot days! Plus, these keto summer treats are super easy to make with just 6 ingredients!
- Keto salted caramel affogato: With this keto salted caramel affogato, you'll have a hard time stopping yourself from eating seconds. Plus, it's so quick and easy to make!
- Vanilla panna cotta with raspberry compote: Panna Cotta has got to be one of the best Italian desserts (in our opinion, any way). It’s a light, smooth and creamy pudding that is simple and elegant. This keto vanilla panna cotta is beautiful on its own, but when paired with raspberry compote, it’s heavenly.
Chocolate Chip Almond Semifreddo
- 2 cups cold heavy cream
- ¾ cup Swerve Confectioners
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup toasted slivered almonds crushed
- ⅔ cup Lily's Semi-Sweet Baking Chips crushed
- 6 egg whites at room temperature
For sprinkling on top
- ¼ cup toasted slivered almonds for sprinkling on top
- ⅓ cup Lily's Semi-Sweet Baking Chips
- Get started: Remove eggs from refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Put beaters and two large mixing bowls in freezer to chill. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper to cover the length of pan. Crush sugar-free chocolate chips and slivered, toasted almonds into smaller pieces.
- Whip heavy cream mixture: Use chilled beaters and bowl to beat heavy cream, at high speed, to the consistency of buttermilk. Then, add Swerve Sweetener, a little at a time, while beating, until fully integrated. Continuing beating until stiff peaks form. After, fold in vanilla extract, ⅔ cup of crushed chocolate chips and ½ cup crushed slivered almonds with a spatula. Set aside.
- Whip egg whites: Thoroughly wash and dry beaters. In other chilled bowl, beat egg whites on high until just stiff. (If you prefer heated egg whites, see directions in above section). Then, fold whipped egg whites into whipped cream mixture. Continue folding until egg whites are fully combined and there are no large visible chunks. Do not overmix.
- Freeze and serve: Pour the semifreddo mixture into loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for overnight, or at least 8 hours. Remove from freezer and let soften for several minutes. Run a knife around edges of pan to help loosen semifreddo. Then, flip loaf pan onto serving platter and pull on parchment paper as needed to release semifreddo from pan. After semifreddo releases, remove parchment paper and sprinkle with ⅓ cup crushed chocolate chips and ¼ cup crushed slivered almonds. Slice and serve.
This sounds delightful to serve at a dinner party! Well, I tried to make two Ninja Creami protein ice creams kind of like this since the flavors sounded interesting. The first had some of the semifreddo's ingredients in the mixture and the second does not. I whipped up 1 egg white to stiff peaks, whipped 2 tablespoons HWC, mixed it with 1 1/4 cup reconstituted coconut milk powder (which tried to separate as it froze - I had it for homemade keto cocoa so gave it a try but found it only works well in warm water), 6 tablespoons confectioners Swerve, 1 plus teaspoon almond extract (BTW - way too much, have been burping almond this evening), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp guar gum, 1 scoop whey protein isolate. Was frothy and foamy mixture that spun to a way too foamy soft serve. It has some notes of cream and meringue in it but I prefer the almond applied to your more standard protein powder ice cream - just using almond instead of peppermint. I'd make sugar free meringue cookies to chop as a mix-in with SF chocolate chips and whipped cream as topping to get the full flavor profile. I still used too much almond (that stuff is strong) - definitely 1/4-1/2 tsp almond next time. Funny how most almond oil/extract isn't made from almonds so those of us with nut allergies can have the flavor! So, Almond chocolate chip protein ice cream- Yay!