Belinda Jeffery

Crunchy Lime Semifreddo

Although this rather gorgeous-looking dessert has to be made the day before you need it, its looks belie the ease with which it comes together, and I find that it has become a staple for me in summer when I need a special dessert, but don’t have much time up my sleeve. It can be served just as is, though I often partner it with finely sliced strips of mango dotted with tiny mint leaves – it’s a very lovely, very summery combination. For the biscuit layer, I usually use Anna’s Almond Thins; Destrooper are very good too, as are McVitie’s Digestives if you prefer a plain biscuit. If you can find some candied citron (also called cedro), do give it a try as a garnish – the delicate shavings look beautiful.

  • Serves 8


  • 1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
  • Finely grated zest of 6 medium-sized limes
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) strained fresh lime juice
  • 300ml pure cream
  • 120g almond thin or digestive biscuits, finely crushed
  • Candied citron, to garnish, optional

Line a lightly oiled 20cm x 11cm x 7.5cm loaf tin with baking paper, leaving an overhang all around. I must admit that lining the tin is a bit awkward – the easiest way I’ve found to do it is to cut one long, narrow strip of paper to line the base and narrow ends so that it runs up over each end, and then line the sides with separate sheets of baking paper that have been cut to fit with a bit of an overhang. Oiling the paper on the side you press against the tin, as well as the tin itself, helps. Put the tin in the freezer to chill.

Pour the condensed milk into a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the lime zest and juice – as you do this the mixture will start to thicken. Pour the cream into a chilled bowl and whip it until it is softly thick but not at all grainy. Fold the cream, gently but thoroughly, into the condensed milk mixture.

To mould the semifreddo, spoon a quarter of the lime mixture into the prepared loaf tin; use the back of the spoon, or shake the tin, to level it out. Sprinkle a quarter of the crushed biscuit crumbs as evenly as you can over the top. Shake the tin gently again to help level the crumbs. Put the tin in the freezer for 10 minutes. Loosely cover the remaining lime mixture and pop it in the fridge. After 10 minutes, remove the tin from the freezer and repeat the layering with a third of the remaining lime mixture and a third of the remaining biscuit crumbs. Return the tin to the freezer. Repeat the layering and freezing twice more until all the lime mixture and crumbs are used up, ending with a layer of crumbs. Cover the tin tightly with plastic film and return it to the freezer. Leave it for at least 8 hours, or preferably overnight.

To serve the semifreddo, chill a long, narrow platter. Uncover the semifreddo and sit the chilled platter on top. Grasping the tin and the platter, invert them, then gently lift off the tin using the overhanging paper to help. Carefully peel away the paper.

If you are using candied citron as a garnish, run a veggie peeler down the sides to remove long, slender strips and drape these over the top. Slice with a sharp knife.


*The big crush… To crush biscuits, you can either whiz them together in a food processor, or seal them in a thick plastic bag and run a rolling pin firmly backwards and forwards over the top until they are finely crushed.