With hindsight, I can probably pinpoint the moment that I realised that my boyfriend and I were in it for the long haul to our second date.

Our first date was a week after we met at a mutual friend’s birthday party. We went for a late dinner on a Friday night and a restaurant that has long since disappeared, followed by more mojitos than is probably advisable for a first date.  The next day, I convinced myself that was it; another one of those acquaintances you tend to make in your early-twenties when your worlds overlap for a brief moment and then spin apart.

Our second date was on a Sunday night. We went to see a fairly terrible film (the 2009 version of Dorian Gray) and then went to the Haagen-Dazs café in Leicester Square. We both ate large ice cream sundaes and drank hot chocolate and then spent the rest of the night texting each other about how eating that much sugar before bed was a really stupid idea.

And we’ve been together ever since.




Looking back at the LiveJournal that I kept at the time is pretty hilarious now. There is a lot (and I mean a lot) of woe, the vast majority of which was totally in my head.  There are whole entries devoted to analysing an offhand comment or text message and what it might mean for the future of our relationship or, more likely, the lack thereof.

In amongst all of the self-indulgence, I keep catching glances of what our relationship has become. The foundations of our life together are all in those early months of dating and, just like our second date did, they generally involved ice cream.

For a while, it seemed to be the defining characteristic of our relationship. For our first valentines day together, which came at that slightly awkward 3-month point, I bought him a book of ice cream recipes (which we never actually used; I should probably try and find it now that we have a proper ice cream maker) and we both independently bought each other ice cream related cards.

Almost everything else that we did in those early months was accompanied by a bowl of ice cream.  Now that we’re both a little older and wiser, we don’t tend to eat quite as much ice cream as we did in those early days but it’s a rare week that goes past without at least one trip to the freezer.


roasted strawberry and dark chocolate semifreddo

Serving Size: Serves 8

This a hybrid really of two of my/our favourite things: raspberry ripple ice cream (albeit made with strawberries) and a vienetta. As is fairly traditional for a semifreddo, this recipe contains raw eggs. I am, generally, fairly happy to eat raw eggs especially as I generally buy organic eggs. If you're less inclined, there are recipes out there that involve cooking the eggs or you can just use vanilla ice cream (which, frankly, generates a lot less washing up).


    For the strawberry layer:
  • 200g (8 oz) strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper
  • For the chocolate layer:
  • 200g (8 oz) dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
  • For the semifreddo:
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 100g (4 oz; a touch over 3/4 cup) icing sugar / powdered sugar
  • 300ml (1 1/4 cup) double / heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (for choice, vanilla extract will work too)


  1. Start by making the strawberry layer. Hull and halve the strawberries and mix with the balsamic vinegar and a couple of twists of black pepper. Roast for about half an hour in an oven at 350F/180C until the berries have shrivelled and are soft to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before blitzing with a stick blender or in a food processor. Chill the strawberry puree before using.
  2. For the chocolate layer, line a largeish baking tray with cling film and melt the chocolate in a small pan over a low heat, taking it off the stove just before the chocolate has completely melted. Pour the chocolate into the baking tray and spread out until very thin. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before breaking into shards.
  3. With those two layers done, you're ready to start making the semifreddo. Wrap a 2lb loaf tin with cling film a couple of times and then line with a sheet of baking paper. In one bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff (easiest with an electric whisk but you can do it by hand). In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and icing sugar until pale and thick. In a third (large) bowl, whisk the cream with the vanilla until soft peaks form. So long as you whip the egg whites first, you can generally get away with not cleaning them in between. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the cream and then fold the egg whites through it all. Spoon a thin layer of the egg/sugar/cream mixture into the loaf pan and put in the freezer until almost solid.
  4. Keep on adding thin layers of the cream mixture, separated by shards of chocolate and/or the strawberry puree. The whole thing will take a couple of hours from start to finish but it's not the end of the world if one layer isn't totally solid before starting on the next. No precise instructions here, just do whatever you fancy.
  5. Once you've finished, allow the whole thing to freeze for a couple of hours before serving. At this point, it will have the normal soft semifreddo texture. It will firm up if you leave it in the freezer overnight but will melt fairly quickly once you take it out. It's your choice how you want to eat it.


Liberally adapted from the rhubarb ripple semifreddo in a recent (April maybe?) issue of BBC Good Food.

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33 Responses to "roasted strawberry and dark chocolate semifreddo"
  1. That’s such a lovely story. Nick and I saw a fairly terrible film on our first date that was accompanied by a lot of pic ‘n’ mix and JD & coke. This also seemed to set the tone for our relationship :) This looks delicious and perfect for Summer.
    p.s. I also love vienetta

  2. Aw! That really brightened up my morning; I love hearing about the start of relationships and seeing how far folks have come. What a sweet blog post.

    Also, LOL at the part with livejournal. I kept one too when I was in undergrad, and I cringe just thinking about the stuff that I wrote in there. Quotes from song lyrics, angsty stuff about irrational crushes. Lord.

  3. I love hearing stories like these! I have a similar story, but ours involves cats : ) Ever since we started dating my fiance has gotten me a cat themed Valentine’s Day card (BTW he’s a self proclaimed cat hater, until now, ha!). I believe our first date was with Mexican food and margaritas, so it was a solid start!

  4. Anca says:

    The recipe sounds delicious. Strawberries and chocolate are amazing together x

  5. Emma says:

    I have never thought to make a vienetta-style dessert at home, but it looks far less intimidating than I would have imagined, and much more delicious than the shop-bought stuff!

  6. What a sweet beginning for you and your husband! I’m glad that your love of ice cream has remained throughout the years. I look forward to indulging in this recipe.

    Happy Tuesday

  7. Abby says:

    This post is the sweetest, Kathryn. What a cute story, and this recipe looks delicious. Your photos are stunning. <3

  8. How can I not love this recipe? I also love hearing stories about you and your soon-to-be husband:-) Nothing like a big ice cream sundae to help you fall in love!

  9. I love this cute love story Kathryn – how cute!! Also, the roasted strawberries with black pepper and balsamic sounds like absolute heaven! i would even have that alone on top of vanilla ice cream!

  10. Nora says:

    Aw, I love that story! What a wonderful excuse to eat lots of ice cream. I have never been a big ice cream fan until I met my husband, who adores it. I should make this recipe for him, shouldn’t I?

  11. Every layer of this is pure deliciousness. I am in LOVE!

  12. katherinea says:

    Haha. Recipes always say to do the egg yolks first which means washing and then drying fully to do the whites properly. I do what you do.
    And I think I saw that Dorian Gray film and I *think* I thought it ridic too, but can’t remember enough to be sure. I do remember trying to get the book out of the library and the librarian not seeming to have heard of it, which I found worrying.

  13. Such a great story, Kathryn. There must be something about a second date – my husband and I said the most random, weird phrase at the exact same time on our second date, and now that phrase is inscribed on the inside of his wedding band. Ha. The roasted strawberry layered with dark chocolate in this semifreddo has my mouth watering. Can’t wait to make it!

  14. Erica says:

    This story made me smile, and your semifreddo looks fantastic. I love the strawberry balsamic combination as a layer :) Ice cream really is the best!!

  15. Sounds like a match made in heaven! My boyfriend is not that into dessert, but I’m slowly converting him. You got it all figured out!

  16. Kate says:

    All the best relationships start with ice cream… :-) I adore semifreddo/homemade Vienetta – I had a salted caramel and chocolate one at The Shed in Notting Hill recently which was awesome, but I think this roasted strawberry version wins hands down x

  17. What sweet memories! I find it so important to keep little things that bring us together as a couple, especially when kids come along or life gets too busy and stressful you can always pull out ice cream late at night and remember who you are together. Lovely semifreddo!

  18. Hannah says:

    Lovely story! I’ve been on a date to that exact Haagen Dazs too… hehe. We couldn’t get into the film we wanted to see so we just sat and ate ice cream. This is a beautiful dessert!

  19. Amanda Paa says:

    your love makes me so happy. reading these words shows just how two people who are meant to be together meet and create a journey together. whether it involves ice cream, a lot of laugh, a few tears along the way – well those are all the foundation that holds it together. i can’t think of a better way to put something up in the freezer than this semifreddo, which i have never attempted to make before. i hope to get it to it this summer! xo

  20. LiveJournal! That brings back so many (angsty) memories. :) I love how ice cream is a constant in your relationship. My husband and I bonded over a bag of Sun Chips, which is not nearly as exciting, so I’m thinking of changing our story starting with this gorgeous semifreddo.

  21. Before moving to Amsterdam I lived in London for maaaany years, I know VERY well the Haagen Dazs that was the second setting of your love story. I used to work in a restaurant nearby. Your post brought back some very good memories. Thanks

  22. Joanne says:

    We also eat a lot of ice cream and I similarly do NOT miss those days of early relationship angst. Though it is interesting to think back on them. This semifreddo is the prettiest!!

  23. Erin says:

    Isn’t it funny how that happens? I feel like my husband and I both “knew” on our very early dates.
    And it’s so funny how we tie food to the early days of a relationship (ours was no-bake cookies at the summer camp we worked at). But I suppose in the awkward first days of dating, the food is something you can easily share as you dig in to the deeper stuff.

  24. I love histories like these with special things such as ice cream, so so sweet. Hope you and your man get to come visit California again sometime soon now that I have you dreaming – that way we can meet and maybe even share some ice cream! :)

  25. cynthia says:

    Oh my goodness, this post makes me SO SO happy, Kathryn! I’ve had this open on my browser all week just to gaze at those dreamy, dreamy photos — so perfect for the weather warming up these days! This strawberry and dark chocolate combo could not be more spectacular. And ah the story of you two!!! It made me smile so big. I love hearing how people met and I’m pretty sure there can’t be a better way than ice cream. (Especially ice cream in one of the only parts of London that I can recall visiting, yay Leicester Square!) Thank you so much for sharing this lovely post, it made me feel all kinds of happy. (Also, PS — YES so. much. woe. on LJ. SO MUCH. omg smh hahaha)

  26. I loved hearing about how you and your fiance met! These are the stories I remember most! And this semifreddo you have on this post…Wish I had a piece of that right now!

    Sending much love to you and your ice-cream loving other half.

  27. What a lovely story- its led me to reminisce about the marvellous early days of my now-husband and I’s relationship, thank you for the trip down memory lane!

  28. This post warms my heart. And this dessert — YUM. Also, I can totally relate to too many drinks on a first date, and the fact that he’s still around and is definitely a keeper :)

  29. That picture of the chocolate: I want to dive in. Lovely work here :) The story of how you met your partner is so awesome. My man and I bonded over our love of French fries. We also don’t eat them often anymore, other than when we are traveling, but it still makes us laugh to think of how kind of obsessed we were with them (we may have rated different restaurants versions on a scale of 1-10. Embarrassing).

  30. Krys says:

    Your story makes my heart sing! I love the flavour combination of raspberry and dark chocolate – this semifreddo looks delicious!

  31. Aw! Thanks for sharing about those sweet first moments with us. :-)

  32. Oh, I love hearing the stories of how couples met … and fell in love. So sweet. Definitely as sweet as this semifreddo, which looks absolutely, positively DIVINE. I must try this soon!

  33. Rusty says:

    Wow! This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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