Panettone Semifreddo with Salted Caramel Sauce
A surprising working partnership of traditional British pudding and archetypal Italian cake make this delicious semifreddo dessert for the festive season. The star though is the very ‘in vogue’, wicked homemade salted caramel sauce in which the salt offsets the sweet. Equally as tasty and for ease and speed, you can substitute it with a ready-made ice-cream dessert sauce.
Recipe type: Chilled Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Serves 6-8
  • Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 250ml golden granulated sugar
  • 65ml water
  • 1 tsp golden syrup or agave syrup (optional)
  • 2 tsps vanilla essence
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 level tsp sea salt
  • Semifreddo
  • 200g creamed rice pudding (canned)
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 250ml single cream
  • 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 100g mixed nuts (pecan & hazelnuts), chopped roughly + some to top
  • Panettone – mixed, dried fruit type (6 chunky slices is enough)
  1. Line dariole moulds with cling film and freeze for half an hour before making the dessert. No need to line if using silicon muffin moulds.
  2. Salted Caramel Sauce: Mix the cream, vanilla essence and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a deep, thick-bottom pan, heat the water, sugar and golden syrup gently until the sugar dissolves, then turn up the heat to boil the mixture. Take great care at this point as the liquid may bubble and spit. It will take around 5-10 minutes to turn from light amber colour to a dark brown (caramelizing point). Never leave it alone, nor let it burn (smoke and set). It will turn colour very quickly. When just darkening, remove from the heat and cool for half a minute.
  4. Then, very carefully pour in the heated cream and salt and whisk vigorously to combine. It will rise up and spit when adding the cream, so take care. Let the caramel sauce cool for 10 minutes then pour into a glass jar, cover and store until required.
  5. Panettone Semifreddo: Take 3 scrupulously clean bowls and place the egg yolks and sugar in one; the cream in another; and the egg whites in the third.
  6. Using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks; the cream to soft peaks; and the egg yolks and sugar until they’re pale.
  7. Gently fold the cream, then the egg whites into the yolk-sugar mix. Then, fold in the rice pudding and 3 tbsps of caramel sauce.
  8. Add the chopped nuts and chocolate along with three 1cm slices of panettone diced finely.
  9. Spoon the semifreddo mix into the moulds, then cover loosely with cling film or foil and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours or until required.
  10. Serving: Remove the semifreddo 15 minutes before serving and place in the fridge to defrost slightly.
  11. Turn out the semifreddo from the moulds. Serve on lightly toasted panettone slices with the salted caramel pouring sauce and a sprinkle of chopped nuts.
If you're in Malta, Smart supermarket does a good caramel sauce substitute with Tesco's Toffee Sauce. Just warm a few tbsps and add a pinch of salt.
Recipe by The Red Bistro at