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Maple Semifreddo: A Sophisticated Take on Ice Cream

November 29, 2015 | By | 2 Replies More

maple semifreddo

A while back, I wrote about homemade ice cream and how it’s not just for summer anymore. Well, it’s also not just for people who have an ice cream maker either.

I’m a big fan of homemade ice cream for a number of reasons: it’s easy, you can control the ingredients for the best quality (YAY! Pastured eggs and cream!) and there’s a “WOW” factor that can’t be beat. If you are hosting dinner guests and you serve up homemade ice cream for dessert, you are nearly guaranteed to make them want to be you.

I own a simple and inexpensive ice cream maker which has paid for itself many times over because I make ice cream at least once a month. I also host Thanksgiving dinner each year, and ice cream is always on the dessert menu.


This year, a new recipe caught my attention. My nose was buried deep in an issue of Food & Wine magazine in an attempt to discourage the traveler sitting next to me on a recent commuter flight to Chicago from striking up conversation. Reading material and my God-given resting bitch face usually earns me a small talk-free trip. The recipe I visited several times on that short flight was this one from Kierin Baldwin for maple semifreddo.

Semifreddo is Italian and means “half frozen.” The dessert custard is simply poured into a baking dish and frozen in the freezer, no ice cream maker required! Semifreddo has the texture of a frozen mousse and is fluffy and less dense than traditional ice cream. It’s like ice cream’s elegant, sophisticated older cousin.

This one ended up being a hit at our Thanksgiving dinner. Maple is one of my very favorite flavors and the double hit of maple in this recipe – first from the maple syrup and second from the maple sugar – put it over the top. You can layer the semifreddo with candied pecans in parfait glasses if you wish, but I sliced this semifreddo into squares topped with the pecans.

Maple sugar isn’t just for this recipe. It’s delicious and can be substituted for cane sugar in many recipes for a flavor twist!

Another note: The original recipe uses a stand mixer AND a hand mixer. Since I do not own a hand mixer, I ended up transferring some of the mixture along the way to other bowls so I could just do everything with my stand mixer. If you only own a hand mixer and not a stand mixer, you can do the same.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

1/2 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

1 3/4 cup heavy cream

1 large egg plus 4 large egg yolks

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 cup maple sugar

maple semifreddo

Making candied pecans is easy and your kitchen will smell heavenly!

candied pecans for topping (I used this easy recipe)

Step one:

1/2 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B

1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

1 3/4 cup heavy cream

Fill a large bowl with plenty of ice and some water. In a medium saucepan, combine the maple syrup with the vanilla bean seeds and the pod and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat for for about 3-5 minutes – the mixture will be a deep brown color and very fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly drizzle in the cream, whisking constantly until thoroughly combined. Transfer the maple cream to a metal bowl that’s slightly smaller than your ice water bowl and set the metal bowl in the ice water bath. Stir the mixture occasionally, letting it cool down for about 30 minutes while you proceed with the rest of the recipe. Discard the vanilla bean pod.

Step two:

1 large egg plus 4 large egg yolks

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

While the maple cream cools, beat the whole egg, egg yolks and salt on medium speed in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Leave the mixture in the bowl while you proceed on.

Step three:

1/4 cup maple sugar

In a small saucepan, combine the maple sugar with 1 tablespoon of water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat, swirling (not stirring!) the pan until the syrup is very foamy and the temperature reaches about 235° on a candy thermometer. This will not take long at all, maybe just a minute after you reach the boiling point.

Now, go back to your stand mixer with the egg and salt mixture in it. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and slowly drizzle the hot syrup in your saucepan down one side of the mixer bowl and continue beating for about 5 minutes. The bowl of the mixer should be cool enough to touch.

maple semifreddoStep four:

By now, the maple cream in your ice bath should be pretty cold. Remove the bowl with the maple cream from the ice bath bowl and dump out the ice water. Quickly rinse and dry the ice bath bowl thoroughly. Now, transfer the mixture from the stand mixer to the clean and dry ice bath bowl and clean out the bowl of the stand mixer.

Now, using your stand mixer on medium speed, beat your chilled maple cream until it’s firm. Keep an eye on it and stop once the cream is firm. Fold the whipped maple cream gently into the egg mixture and continue folding with a spatula until the mixture is homogeneous.

Scrape the semifreddo into an 8×8 baking dish and freeze until firm, about 4 hours minimum.

Slice and serve the semifreddo topped with candied pecans and humbly accept the applause.

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Category: Desserts, Fall, Food, General, Recipes

Comments (2)

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  1. Aunt Sheila says:

    Brande: do you remember Grandma making sugared pecans? She would melt some butter in a pan and stir in the pecans for just a few minutes. After that she would toss them into a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. I always made a pig out of myself because they were the best. I will see if I can get the recipe, if one exists.

    Love your gluten free recipes. I’ve had to eat gluten free for the past 8 years and it’s getting easier to find products.

    Love a very Merry Christmas and please give Mr. President a hug for me.

    Aunt Sheila

    • Brande says:

      Hi Aunt Sheila! I don’t remember those, but they sound amazing. Every Southern lady should have a good recipe for candied pecans, I think! Yeah, the gluten-free thing is getting much easier to deal with and I’m glad you enjoy some of the recipes here. Merry Christmas to you and John as well – I think of you often.

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