Semifreddo & buñelos

by Luke Mackay

Luke Mackay’s Colombian-inspired take on the classic coffee and doughnut combination

I wanted a recipe this week that would let Eduardo’s Colombian coffee shine, as well as being a classic combination. The doughnuts are Colombian style—they’re called buñelos, and they are delicious. The coffee is a smooth semifreddo, half ice cream, half mousse and aromatic with fine caturra timor beans. The presentation of the semifreddo and the buñelos is inspired by Eduardo, who serves coffee from his stall in beautiful bone china from his grandmother, and the day I spent at the stall with him. My version is served in a beautiful tea set inherited by my wife from great aunt Winnie Vandore of Fife.  


For the semifreddo:
4 eggs, separated
120g caster sugar
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
4 shots of cold Colombian coffee
300ml double cream

For the buñelos:
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 packet (7g) active dry yeast
7 tbsp milk
2 tbsp butter
180g plain flour
Vegetable oil, for frying

For the topping:
40g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon 


Using an electric mixer, whish the egg yolks plus 2 tbsp of the sugar and the vanilla for 7 mins, until pale and creamy. Add the coffee slowly and incorporate. Set aside.

Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks and slowly add the remaining sugar until you have a smooth meringue consistency. Fold this into the coffee mixture. Finally, whisk the cream until soft and billowy but not overly stiff and granular, then fold it into the egg mix. Pour into 8 coffee cups and freeze for at least 3 hours or overnight.

To make the buñelos, in a small bowl stir together 50ml lukewarm water and the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over this and let it set for about 10 mins. You will see a froth form on the top it, and you will be able to smell the yeast.

In a small saucepan over a medium to low heat, heat the milk, butter and ¼ tsp salt, just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool down to lukewarm.  

Place the flour into a large mixing bowl and begin to mix in both the yeast and the milk mixtures. When the dough becomes too thick to mix with the spoon, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 mins, until the dough is springy and elastic.

Take a small amount of your vegetable oil and place it into a large bowl. Roll the dough ball in the oil, flipping it over and covering with a thin coating of the oil. Cover the bowl loosely in clingfilm and leave it in a warm spot for at least 2 hours (or overnight), until the dough has doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and cut into quarters, then each quarter into 3, and form into balls. Pre-heat the oil to 180C and cook the buñelos for 5 mins, until golden and crisp. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and dredge the buñelos in the mixture.

To serve, take the semifreddo from the freezer 20 mins before service, so that they are semi-frozen (semi-freddo!) and eat with the freshly fried hot buñelos. There will be a few extra for the chef or the greedy!

Recipe: Luke Mackay