Cranberry Orange Semifreddo Hearts – Elegant Valentine’s Day Dessert

Have you ever eaten or made a semifreddo, an Italian semi-frozen dessert? My friends never had until yesterday. They had all gathered in my kitchen to eat, talk, make chocolate, and say good-bye to a dear friend who will be moving soon. They had spent hours filling their bellies with appetizers and were totally occupied with making and snacking on marshmallow cream filled hearts, chocolate dipped potato chips, and chocolate covered macadamia nuts, but silly me decided to serve them dessert.

I knew they wouldn’t eat much so I just put out two of the Cranberry Orange Semifreddo Hearts. I explained that the frozen treats were like a cross between a custard style ice cream and a whipped fruit flavored mousse and that they should allow them to sit for a few minutes to soften. I left spoons for everyone and they went back to their candy making. A few minutes later I heard, “oooh, creamy,” “it’s fruity,”  and “so refreshing.” They all took a few bites, then went back to work.

I’m not too sad that more of them didn’t get eaten because we can now enjoy them for dessert on Valentine’s Day. They will keep well in the freezer for several weeks. 

Cranberry Blush Semifreddo Hearts (makes 12)


10 ounces dried cranberries
2/3 cup cran-apple juice
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Supplies Needed:

medium sauce pan
food processor, blender, or immersion stick blender
mixing bowl
wooden spoon or rubber spatula
2 Wilton Mini Heart Silicone Molds with 6 cavities

Place the dried cranberries, cran-apple juice, orange juice and orange zest in a medium saucepan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer the cranberries for 12-15 minutes, until the liquid is almost gone and the cranberries are plump. Remove the pan from the heat. Reserve 2/3 cup plump whole cranberries. Puree the remaining cranberries in a food processor or blender until smooth.  If using a stick blender, you can puree cranberries right in your pan. Leave in food processor while making the custard.
Pour the half-and-half into your saucepan and set over medium heat. Allow it to just begin to boil. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. While whisking, slowly pour in about a 1/3 of the hot half-and-half. Then, pour the egg mixture into the pan along with the half and half. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to lightly coat the back of your spoon or spatula, about 5 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour custard over your cranberry puree in the food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Pour into a large bowl and fold in the remaining whole cranberries.  Chill in an ice bath or refrigerator.
In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chilled cranberry custard. Spoon mousse into the heart shaped molds. 
Freeze for at least 4 hours. Remove from freezer, and un-mold the hearts. You may need to dip the bottom of the heart mold into warm water for about 20 seconds in order to get the hearts out nicely. 
Keep frozen until ready to serve. I drizzled some chocolate sauce on some bowls and plates and set the frozen heart on top. Allow the Cranberry Semifreddo Hearts to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly before eating.

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  1. Anonymous says

    hello :) im from the UK so maybe its just me, but im not sure what you mean by 'half and half' can you explain what ingredient this is ? thanks, Natalie x

    • says

      Hi Natalie,

      Half and Half is a mixture of one part milk to one part cream. It's a very common dairy product here in the states, and I didn't realize it wasn't available in other parts of the world, so sorry I didn't explain. If you can't get it, just mix milk with cream and you'll be fine. I actually do that all the time as I always have milk and heavy whipping cream on hand, but don't often have half and half.

  2. says

    can't wait to try this, never heard of them before. you make it look so easy and the photos are great on all your recipes! i appreciate that as when you are making something, you want it to look like the pics! great photography and such great food ideas for all seasons. just <3 love it. thanks for all the hard work and creativity, Beth! :)

    • says

      I hope you enjoy these semifreddo hearts. I love this flavor combination and these are a great frozen dessert. The molds are easy to use and your hearts should look just like my pictures! Have fun and thanks so much for your kind words.

  3. Anonymous says

    I made these tonight and it was a little too sweet for my taste, but still very good. Is there anything you could recommend that I could do to cut back on the sweetness?

    • says

      You can balance out the sweetness by using lemon juice instead of orange juice in the recipe. It would add some tartness and cut the sweet.

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