Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chocolate Almond Semi-freddo: a Christmas tradition

MARY JANE MAFFINI: I’m so happy to be back at Mystery Lovers Kitchen. I’ve missed everyone and also hankered for the fun and excitement of camera flashes going off in my kitchen all the time.  My husband loved my involvement with MLK, because of all the experiments and the new drama surrounding many of our meals. He’s glad that we’re back too.

But I’ll start off with a confession: I’m all about the easy way out.  

Some of you already know that from previous blogs or just knowing me. The point is that if I make it (and even take pictures) it will be easy and pretty much foolproof. Also you can usually mess around and change the ingredients.  So keeping easy and foolproof in mind, here's a family favorite Christmas treat from the Maffini kitchen. 

We've been serving these since the dim mists of time. The original, Chocolate Almond Velvet, a dessert from a wonderful old seventies cookbook, has been served at Christmas and special events ever since then, with a few changes. 

In  fact I always have to double the recipe because they disappear. It’s very mysterious. It’s also the only thing I’ve ever made where even eight-year-old children have asked for the recipe. I feel like a kitchen heroine.  I am about to make the third double batch for dessert at our Christmas dinner (27 at last count and I am very glad not to be hosting).

This year we have something extra to celebrate as my husband has recovered from a medical crisis and my daughter and I will be launching a new series writing as Victoria Abbott.  Don’t be surprised when you see Victoria Abbott showing up with recipes here too. They will also be easy.
What about you? Are there recipes that you and your family or friends must have during the holidays?

Chocolate Almond Semifreddo   - Makes 24

You will need:

1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 can chocolate syrup (the kind you put on ice cream)
2 cups whipping cream
½  teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup (or more) slivered almonds, toasted
2 muffin tins (for large muffins)
Cupcake/muffin tin liners (I found Christmas ones!)

First: Mix the condensed milk, chocolate syrup, whipping cream, vanilla extract and almond extra until mixed. Chill in fridge for 1 hour.

While it’s chilling:  Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Spread almonds on pie plate. Toast for about 5 minutes until brown. Remove and let them cool.

Place liners in muffin tin. When mixture is chilled, whip (stand mixer is best) until it is thick as whipped cream.  Transfer about 1/3 to ½ cup of mixture in each one (you can tell if the amount looks right)  Should give you about 24.  Top with toasted almonds and freeze in muffin tins (about 24 hours). You can transfer to a pretty plate if you want when they are frozen firm.

Keep an eye on them. They have a tendency to disappear.

I hope you will join me and my daughter, Victoria, in celebrating our new book collector series. We're writing together as Victoria Abbott and our first book, The Christie Curse is due out March 5th.  We promise that there’s food in it and even a few recipes. Murder too, it goes without saying.

Pop in to see us at!  Let us know if you like our cover. Hint: we love it.

We wish you the best Christmas ever: Merry, happy and full of good eating and great reading!


  1. MJ, so delighted to have you back! the recipe looks delicious and the cover is so beautiful. I especially love the pug:).

    Sounds like it will be a joyful Christmas at your house and we're thrilled!

    1. Thanks, Lucy (and Roberta). It's really lovely to be back at MLK. I am so glad you have joined the gang! We think the cover is perfectly cozy and we are taken with the pug too (although we have four dachshunds between us).

  2. Very exciting news about the new series! congrats... and some sweet eats for the holidays.

    1. Thank you, Janet! We're excited about the series too, and all the chocolate during the season. The holidays are all about chocolate in my mind. I think of you as the Queen of chocolate, by the way, as well as mystery royalty.

  3. Welcome back MJ!!

    Love the book cover and thanks for the easy peasy recipe.

    1. Hope your Christmas is full of good books and good eats, Dru (I like your strategy, by the way!

  4. Will have to try these. Congrats on the new series - how fun! Definitely love the cover.

  5. MaryJane, welcome back! I'm so glad you're back and there's healing in your family!! Love the idea of the new series. Victoria Abbott, here we come. :) And these little darling desserts? Yum.



  6. Hugs right back, Avery/Daryl! It's great to be back here with you, my friend. I will say Cheese!

  7. Welcome back, MJ! We really missed you, and it's wonderful to have you back in the Kitchen. Lovely recipe for the holidays and sweet congrats on the new series with your daughter. (I'm off to pre-order the book now!) Great new reading for the New Year!

    A very Merry Christmas to you, your family,
    and your daughter (& partner in crime writing!),
    ~ Cleo

    1. Merry Christmas to you too, Cleo! I missed you too and love being back. Preorders! Yay!


  8. The recipe, as well as the book (and cover), looks great. At Christmas I have to have ribbon candy and my mom's Kris Kringle cookies, but the must have holiday foods appear at Thanksgiving. We have a jello mold (a good, not scary one), cream cheese stuffed celery, and leek dip. Oh--we have leek dip at Thanksgiving too. And Easter, and birthdays, and...we love that leek dip!

    1. Leek dip sounds wonderful and so the other traditions. I love ribbon candy and Christmas cookies. Thanks for your comments!

  9. The recipe looks wonderful, Mary Jane! How long do these keep in the freezer? Or, do they go too fast to know for sure? :-)

    I've already pre-ordered the new book (Amazon says I ordered it on 11/25) and am really looking forward to it.

    I hope you and all the MLK members have a wonderful holiday!!

    1. They are supposed to keep for a month (has never happened). If you are keeping them for longer than a few days, it's a good idea to transfer them to a tightly closed cookie tin.

      Thank for your comments and the pre-order!

      Have a great holiday, full of fun and happiness.

  10. Welcome back, Mary Jane. We're thrilled to see you here again! This recipe just sounds too good to be true! Hmm, and I seem to have all the ingredients on hand!

    ~ Krista

    1. It's great to be here, Krista. Thanks for your kind words and all your help. I hope you like them!