Semifreddo: The Semi-Frozen Italian Treat You Should Know About

August's sweltering heat reminds many of childhoods spent at local ice cream shops, watching with wide eyes as soft serve machines crafted creamy spoonfuls destined for waiting mouths. Those who tried making ice cream at home probably found that churning was key to the process, but it could take a long time to see results and even longer for the cream to cool. Thankfully, there's a quicker way to beat the heat — semifreddo, a "no churn" dessert.

Semifreddo, which means "half-frozen" in Italian, according to Allrecipes, is a frosty treat similar to ice cream. The recipes for these frozen treats aren't all that different, Allrecipes explains, as both delicacies use eggs, milk, sugar, and heavy cream. Unlike ice cream, however, semifreddo isn't churned and is instead whipped to create a light texture. 

This is where semifreddo really diverges from ice cream. Ice cream is built upon a thick, creamy base, while semifreddo requires aeration for its signature mix. Air is semifreddo's greatest ally.

Aeration makes all the difference in semifreddo

The base for semifreddo can be made in a number of ways but results in a whipped mousse. Some recipes call for whipped cream to be folded into the mix gently. Others, like this Corn Pop Semifreddo one, focus heavily on beating and whipping the ingredients into an airy mixture. Because it's made from a mousse base rather than a cream one (as in ice cream), semifreddo generally contains less fat than ice cream, says Proportional Plate.

Once the mousse is light and pillowy, it's time for it to be transferred to the freezer. Serious Eats suggests lining a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap to hold the mixture as it cools. After a few hours, the treat is ready to be served. According to The Spruce Eats, semifreddo is then sliced like a loaf of bread. This ensures the treat keeps its airy, moussey texture while staying cold and compact. Fruit and other garnishes can be placed on top of the dessert for decoration or served on the side.

The final result is a light, cool dish smooth anyone with a stove and mixer can make. No churning necessary.