This dessert is perfect for any festive occasion in winter, when pomegranates are in season. It’s especially suited to the Iranian celebration of Shab-e Yalda, when it’s customary to eat juicy red fruits like pomegranate and watermelon, to remind us of summer even on the darkest day of the year. This is an easy semifreddo because it doesn’t require cooking eggs like you would in a traditional recipe. Instead, you just mix up the base—made with cream and Greek yogurt—and pour it into the pan to freeze.
The semifreddo should be made the day before you plan to serve it, so it has plenty of time to firm up. I prefer cooking with unsweetened pomegranate molasses. For this recipe, I like the Sadaf brand of California Pomegranate Molasses because it’s sweet without added sugar, and it has a gorgeous red color. —Louisa Shafia
Test Kitchen Notes
Recipe adapted from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
- Prep time 8 hours 40 minutes
- Serves 8 to 10
toasted, unsalted, shelled pistachios
1 1/2 cups
plain 2% fat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups
Unsalted butter or coconut oil, for greasing
Seeds from 1 (9-ounce) pomegranate (about 1 cup)
1 to 2 tablespoons
honey, plus more as needed
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, so that the parchment hangs over all 4 sides of the pan. (You’ll need one long narrow piece to cover the bottom, and one long wide piece to cover the sides.) Coarsely chop the pistachios and scatter them evenly over the bottom of the pan.
- Whip the heavy cream in a large bowl to form stiff peaks and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Zest the blood oranges into a large bowl, saving the oranges for the compote. Whisk the yogurt, sugar, rose water, cardamom, and salt into the bowl with the orange zest and beat until the sugar dissolves. Gently fold in the whipped cream with a spatula just until it’s incorporated but still has airiness and height. Finally, drizzle the pomegranate molasses on top, then swirl it in, so you can see bands of red running through the cream.
- Pour the semifreddo mixture into the prepared loaf pan without disturbing the pistachios on the bottom. Grease a piece of parchment paper with a little butter or coconut oil and lay it on top to cover. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight. You can wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to one month.
- To make the compote, peel then dice the oranges. Transfer the oranges and all the juices to a fine-mesh sieve placed over a large bowl. Whisk 1 tablespoon of the honey into the orange juice until it dissolves, then stir into the diced orange and the pomegranate seeds. Add the remaining tablespoon of honey (or more) to taste.
- To serve, remove the parchment from the top of the semifreddo. Fill a glass with hot water. Dip a butter knife into the water and run it along the inside edges of the pan to loosen it from the sides. Invert the pan onto a cutting board and pull off the remaining parchment paper. Dip a chef’s knife into the hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the semifreddo into about 1-inch-thick slices. Serve immediately, with a few spoonfuls of compote over each serving.