Caramelized Fig Semifreddo

Studded with plump figs and swirled with honey-cardamom caramel sauce, this creamy mousse-like dessert pairs beautifully with a glass of sherry to cap off an elegant meal. Best of all, you can whip up a semifreddo pretty much any time you want, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. A semifreddo (which means “half frozen”) is classically sliced and served on a plate like old-fashioned boxed ice cream, but you can also just serve it with an ice cream scoop.
1.5 hr
8 Servings


  • 1 orange
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup Oregon-grown honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 6 ounces dried Black Mission figs, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Instructions

    1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove just the fragrant outer peel of the orange (wrap the orange tightly in plastic wrap and save it for another use). Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add the orange peel strips, honey, ½ cup of the sugar, and cardamom, stirring until the honey and sugar are dissolved. Add the figs, cover, and reduce the heat; simmer until the figs are plumps and tender, about 30-45 minutes. You can do this step ahead of time; just leave the figs in the syrup until you’re ready to continue.
    2. Scoop out the softened figs with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove the orange peel and simmer the syrup for about an hour, until thick (it’ll have reduced down to 1 cup). Allow the caramel sauce to cool down to lukewarm.
    3. While the syrup is simmering, line a 9″ x 5” metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving 6” of overhang on each side. (Make sure there’s enough room in the freezer for the loaf pan to sit flat!)
    4. In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. The consistency should be silky, not stiff enough for piping. Cover the bowl and stash the whipped cream in the fridge.
    5. In a medium, heat-proof mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the other ½ cup of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan with an inch of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t sitting in the water). Bring the water to a simmer, whisking steadily until an instant-read thermometer reads 170° and the yolk mixture starts to thicken.
    6. Remove the bowl from the heat and whip the egg yolk mixture until it’s light and fluffy. Fold in the whipped cream until fully combined, but don’t overmix — you want it to stay light and airy!
    7. Drizzle half of the honey-cardamom caramel sauce into the bottom of the prepared loaf pan, then swirl the rest of it with the figs into the whipped cream-egg mixture.
    8. Scrape the semifreddo mixture into the loaf pan, smooth the top, then fold the plastic wrap edges over the top. Freeze the semifreddo for at least 6 hours (overnight is best). To serve, turn the semifreddo out onto a chilled serving tray, peel off the plastic wrap, and slice (or serve it with an ice cream scoop if you like!).