Desserts and Sweets

Meringue and zabaglione semifreddo

This comes from Osteria de’ Poeti in Bologna. Though the recipe doesn’t call for it, it’s easier to slice if you freeze it.

My stepdaughter, Olivia, was so taken with it, she’s going to make it next time we have people round. I like cooking with her. She loves making desserts and wants to be a pastry cook.

Serves: 6 people


  • 3 egg whites
  • 170g caster sugar


  • 5 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100ml sweet marsala
  • 125ml double cream


  • 400g fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

01 Heat the oven to 80C (100C non-fan). Line a baking sheet of at least 24cm x 33cm with baking parchment.

02 Make the meringue: whisk the egg whites until you have soft peaks, then add half the sugar and continue to whisk. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk to fairly stiff peaks. Spread into a thin layer of about 24cm x 33cm on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 2 hours.

03 Make the zabaglione by whisking the yolks and sugar in a large heatproof bowl until fairly thick and pale, then set over a pan of simmering water and continue to whisk for about 5 minutes, until really thick. Start adding the marsala a little at a time, whisking well between additions. You want the mixture to be as thick as possible.

04 When all the marsala has been incorporated, take off the heat and set aside. Lightly whip the cream to the same consistency as the zabaglione, then fold them together.

05 Line a 25cm x 12cm loaf tin with 2 sheets of clingfilm placed at right angles to each other and with the excess hanging over the sides. Cut the meringue into 3 equal rectangles of about 24cm x 11cm and place one in the bottom of the tin. Spoon in half of the zabaglione, top with another layer of meringue and the rest of the zabaglione, and finally top with the third piece of meringue. Fold the clingfilm over the top and wrap the whole thing in a final sheet. Freeze for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.

06 About 15 minutes before serving, combine the strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a bowl and toss briefly. Set aside to marinate.

07 To serve, remove the semifreddo from the freezer, turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate and unpeel the clingfilm. Cut into slices and serve at once with the strawberries.