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Tahini Semifreddo
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2 c
heavy cream, very cold
7 lg
egg yolks
1 c
½ c
well-stirred tahini

One more smart path to churn-free frozen desserts is to make semifreddo, the Italian mousse–like concoction that freezes up soft and spoonable. Better yet, this tahini version, from Michael Solomonov, chef-owner of Zahav in Philadelphia, has extra insurance against icy stiffness.

Because tahini is made from ground toasted sesame seeds, it’s rich in sesame oil, which turns out to be a good buffer against ice crystals, as well as a happy carrier for the smoky, nutty flavors that we love in tahini dishes both savory and sweet—it’s like peanut butter, but with a huskier voice.

Solomonov serves this with bright fruits like strawberries and rhubarb in spring or passion fruit and lime in winter; with banana and streaks of chocolate; or with crumbled cookies on top. If you don’t want to wait for it to freeze, this also makes a stupefyingly good tahini mousse.

“This requires a bit of a delicate touch, so sip a little chamomile tea and practice some deep breathing before you start.” —Michael Solomonov


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or using a handheld mixer in a large bowl, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Refrigerate the whipped cream briefly as you proceed with the next step.
  2. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a small heatproof bowl set over but not touching gently simmering water in a saucepan. Whisk the eggs and sugar constantly until the sugar is dissolved and the yolks have lightened in color, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat.
  3. Scrape about one-third of the whipped cream into a large bowl with a rubber spatula and pour in the yolk mixture. Stir together until well combined. Scrape in half of the remaining whipped cream and fold it in gently with the spatula until just incorporated. Repeat with the last of the whipped cream.
  4. In a separate large bowl, stir together 1⁄2 cup of the whipped cream–egg yolk mixture with the tahini until well combined. You want the texture of each ingredient to be as similar as possible before folding them together, so be sure the tahini is well stirred.
  5. Carefully fold in the rest of the whipped cream–egg yolk mixture with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Divide the mousse among eight 4-to 6-ounce bowls or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze until firm, about 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Reprinted with permission from Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake by Kristen Miglore, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit: James Ransom © 2018

Food52 Genius Desserts

Kristen Miglore

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