Fig and Amaretti Semifreddo al Mascarpone

by Jenn on September 22, 2011

in Desserts,Gluten Free

Fig and Amaretti Semifreddo al Mascarpone

I love how when a cold front comes in, the lake becomes enveloped by its own foggy cloud, bathing the land in a softened dewy light.  And while it may be chilly out, there is an unexplained warmth by the light wrapping herself around us – and looking out to the lake is a wall of bright, making one wonder if something different might lie out there beyond the mist….

Boats on the water

The wall of light silhouettes the world looking out to the lake, and for a split second one wonders if nature is just showing us the simpler bare version of ourselves, our souls…

In this light everything seems in harmony and at peace.  And while I lament not being able to see the mountains beyond, it is only for an instant, as now I can see the beauty within the lake itself, here on the shore.  For the mountains don’t define the lake.  The lake is her own being, fully of splendor all in her own right, shining from within herself.

And then I begin to wonder what defines me.  Am I too, often mistakenly defined by that which surrounds me? Or is there an inner quality that makes itself known to the world?  In a day where society desperately wants us to put ourselves in many ever increasingly confining boxes with everyone else, how do we even know who we are anymore?  What is it that defines us?

Lake Geneva Shore

It seems to me that the more I live this life, the more I realize that all of society attempts to make sense of the world by putting everything into compartments, and that compartmentalizing pervades our culture.  Increasingly I see attempts to define people (and people’s attempts to define themselves) by the movies we like, the songs we listen to, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the sports we do, the brands we shop.  The advent of social networking has only exacerbated this, everyone’s profile a nice little summary of their target niche for advertisers to latch on to.  But know what? I am not defined by the clothes I wear, my favorite football team, the products in my home nor even my music taste.  I am not defined by my love of cooking, hiking, nor even my love of photography.

No.  Instead, I am defined by the types of relationships I have and with whom I choose to include in my life and share.  By how I interact with those that I love, and those I do not.  I am defined not by the activities in which I endeavor, but how I handle experiences in life and more importantly, how I moved on from them and grew as a person.  For each experience does not define me, rather, each one gives me an opportunity to define myself.  We define ourselves by the values with which we choose to live by, and how well our decisions do or do not align with those values.  As well as how we grow and change over time.  These are the things that make us individuals, unique.  And these are precisely the things for which there is not box to fill in on one’s profile.  Sometimes they may not even be known to ourselves.

Maybe we are fighting too hard to be individuals, to be unique – is it that with personality becoming seemingly more and more manufactured in our world, we all are striving to find our own truths and in turn suffering from chronic identity crisis?  I think it’s ok if we don’t have it all figured out yet.  Even as an adult, I still am learning about myself – I hope I always am.  And I hope I change and grow, that my mind and myself evolves as I find each subsequent truth in this life.  We all have different ever changing facets about ourselves – and part of what brings that individuality is how they all interplay with each other throughout our interactions and experiences.  I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago, and for the most part that is a very good thing :)

Change, in of itself, is an element of beauty.  And it’s another reason why I love living near this lake – because every time I gaze out across the waters, I see something slightly different.  Different moods, whims, and fancies, colors and shapes.  And it’s all beautiful.


Sunset on Lake Geneva

It’s how we change.  How we evolve ourselves based on new interactions and experiences, that’s what makes us who we are.  That’s what defines us.  Not what movies we watch or where we live or what activities we do.  Who we are, each of us, goes much deeper than that.

In a world that wants to put everyone into a box, never forget what makes you who you are.

I made semifreddo, with figs and amaretti cookies.  Not because making food (sweet or savory) is who I am, simply because I enjoy cooking, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying ice cream here :)  No deeper meaning other than it sounded good.  Did I mention figs are in season right now? So hard to have figs in our home long enough to actually make something with them, they’re my husband’s favorite fruit.  But this semifreddo? Might just be worth it.

Fig and Amaretti Semifreddo al Mascarpone Fig and Amaretti Semifreddo al Mascarpone



Fig and Amaretti Semifreddo al Mascarpone

Adapted from Gourmet Kitchen Tales  and
Prep Time: 1 hr to make cookies and prep ingredients
Total Time: 6-8 hoursdepending on freezing time


  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 150g sugar
  • 100 mL water
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 300 mL cream
  • 190g mascarpone
  • 300g figs, chopped (the smaller the better)
  • 100g amaretti cookies, crumbled


  1. Add vanilla bean, sugar and water to a pot and heat until the sugar dissolves.  Bring the sugar to a boil and let boil until it reaches hard ball stage (250F/120C) about 5 – 7 minutes.
  2. While the sugar is boiling, in a large mixing bowl whisk (or beat) the egg yolks until thick and creamy, and pale in color.
  3. When the sugar is ready, while still beating the egg yolks, slowly trickle some of the sugar syrup in.  The idea is to incorporate all the boiling syrup into the eggs without scrambling them.  It helps to have 2 ppl here –  one to hold the bowl and whisk, and one to slowly pour in the sugar syrup.  But take care also to do it quick enough that the syrup doesnt’ cool too much else it won’t blend into the eggs well.
  4. Keep beating the eggs until cooled to room temperature.
  5. In another bowl, beat the cream and mascarpone together until one has stiff peaks.  Also now is a good idea to line a banana bread pan with plastic wrap – this will make it easier to take out the semifreddo later.
  6. Fold the whipped cream into the yolks, and then add in the figs and cookies.
  7. Pour into the banana bread pan, and let set in the freezer overnight.
  8. To serve remove semifreddo from pan by lifting up the plastic wrap, and slice.



Ariane September 22, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Looks amazing. Do you think I could use dried figs? Fresh are hard to source for me….

Things are cooling off enough here in Indiana that my days are spent baking and making soups, though :-) Pumpkin pie and quiche and beef short ribs, oh my!

My own personal philosophy: the day I stop learning is the day after I die.

Jenn September 22, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Thanks Ariane! Dried figs are definitely a bit chewy, so I would make sure to chop them up quite finely – i might try freezing one first and seeing if it becomes too hard to eat… but I don’t see why not – really you could throw any fruit that you wanted into the semifreddo. And semifreddo is meant to be eaten half melted anyways, so should be fine :)

Ariane September 22, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I could re-hydrate in amaretto? 😀 Ok, now I’m really drooling…. I make a banana pecan bread pudding and always soak my raisins in dark rum for deliciousness!

Jenn September 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm

Oh now that sounds awesome!

Jennifer (Delicieux) September 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I love your post, and it’s interesting how our definition of ourselves changes over time. That certainly has held true for me.

Your semifreddo looks so delicious Jenn! I love the last photo with it melting on the spoon. I also love the photo of the boats on the water, especially how the sun looks in that shot. It’s so serene and calming.

Jenn September 22, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Thanks Jennifer!

Rosa September 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm

That second picture is awesome!

A delightful dessert! Wonderfully seasonal.



Jenn September 23, 2011 at 7:13 am

Thanks Rosa!

Jodi September 23, 2011 at 2:49 am

wow – this looks amazing! I think I am going to make this for dessert for my dinner party on saturday. Fab!

Jenn September 23, 2011 at 7:14 am

Thanks Jodi, hope you enjoy it!

chriesi September 23, 2011 at 7:53 am

I love everything about this dessert! And as always fantastic photos!

Jenn September 23, 2011 at 8:38 am

Thanks so much!

Joy September 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

The semifreddo looks great. I have yet to tackle this dish. Good job.

Jenn September 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Thanks! This recipe is really not difficult, as long as you add the sugar to the yolks without scrambling the eggs or hardening the sugar – that’s really the only tricky part :)

Sneh | Cook Republic September 24, 2011 at 3:26 am

Gorgeous delicious and oh my my! I am always on the lookout for unique lovely ice cream/semifreddo flavours and this fits the bill perfectly!

Jenn September 24, 2011 at 1:48 pm


InTolerantChef September 24, 2011 at 6:53 am

Deep, deep thoughts… best pondered over a bowl of this delicious dessert!

Jenn September 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Thanks! Yes deep thoughts are best pondered over a bowl of dessert :)

Christine September 25, 2011 at 12:38 am

Congrats on Foodbuzz top 9!

Jenn September 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Thanks !!

Alison September 27, 2011 at 4:05 am

Wow, looks amazing! I’ve never tried a semifreddo before, but now might be the time to branch out! :)

Jenn September 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

Thanks so much !!

Jamie September 27, 2011 at 9:55 am

I was drawn here by the stunning dessert – I have long craved a freezer big enough to make a semifreddo and yours is inspiring! Now where is my freezer?! My husband and I have long been discussing the whole “what defines us” dilemma and wondering about how we fit into this society… or if we really are obliged to fit into it. Can we become who we want to be, shedding the constraints and the definitions? Can we spend our days on this earth without conforming to society’s definition of who they say we should be? We struggle with this every day and hope to find an answer soon and break out of the mold. We are who we are.

Jenn September 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Thanks Jamie – I think it’s something a lot of people struggle with – I like your last statement – “we are who we are” – maybe we all need to stop trying so hard to define ourselves…

Heather September 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm

Jenn your talent just amazes me! We need to plan a GTG when you come to CT! I LOVE the 5th picture. Gorgeous!

Jenn September 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Thanks Heather! And yes, we do :)

Reese@SeasonwithSpice September 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Hi Jenn – this is my first time here after looking up on semifreddo recipes. I must say it is a delightful find. The first time I tasted fresh figs was in Australia three years ago and I was hooked since. Love your idea of using figs in semifreddo. Too bad I can’t really find them here back home. Really miss some fresh figs now..

Jenn September 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Thanks! Fresh figs here are perfect right now, we can’t get enough of them…

a spoonful of yumm October 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm

love how you always come up with posts that make me think. i love yachts, that image is gorgeous ! i love figs so much 😀

Jenn October 10, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Thank you !!

Jeanne @ CookSister! October 10, 2011 at 5:07 pm

I have been drooling over this dessert since you posted it and your comment today reminded me that I still had to come and read the accompanying post – and I’m so glad I did. Loveed all of this post – it’s always nice to know I am not the only person struggling with these questions! It’s an excellent question to ask – what makes us who we are? I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves – and far too many people get stuck on “I am what I do” (defined by their job), or “I am what I drive” or where I live… or what I wear. It’s really sad. I have learnt a lot about myself over the past year – some of it good, some of it not so good, but all of it surprisingly gratifying. Like you, I have learnt that I define myslef through my relationships with other people (on a bad day I call it my pathalogical desire to be liked LOL!). And having gone through the process of my dad’s death and going through all my parents’ possessions, I can say with a large degree of certainty that the only useful legacy you leave behind is the mark you make on the lives of others.

LOVE the recipe too – it’s clearly the month for figs here in the blogosphere :)

Jenn October 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

What lovely heartfelt comments Jeanne, thanks so much.

Kimberley Owen November 23, 2011 at 5:49 am

Hi Jenn,

Just wanted to say, this is such a beautiful recipe. I made it for my fiance as a special treat, but I used mango and almonds instead of the figs. It worked perfectly! So rich, smooth and creamy. I can’t wait to try it again with figs when they come back into season here.

Many thanks! :)

Jenn November 23, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Oh thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Mango and almonds sounds fantastic!

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