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Try this Pumpkin + Maple Semifreddo with Graham Cracker Streusel for a new take on Thanksgiving dessert!
Last summer, I made a meyer lemon semifreddo for my Mom’s birthday dinner. It was seriously so amazing and rather easy to make! I can’t believe I’d never attempted a semifreddo before! Since then, I’ve been dreaming about other flavors I could try — like espresso…and cinnamon (my fav ice cream flavors). Or, pumpkin?! Tis the season, right?
What is Semifreddo?
A semifreddo is a partially frozen, Italian dessert made from eggs, cream and sugar. It’s like ice cream, in that sense, but requires no churning. Once formed and frozen in a mold, it slices into creamy slabs of deliciousness!
You won’t miss the pie! Ok, maybe you will, but isn’t there always an apple pie lurking at the end of the dessert table? Imagine a slice of this Pumpkin + Maple Semifreddo with a steamy cup of spiced chai or a spiked latte. Or, any number of warm autumn cocktails you might enjoy after dinner!
How to Make Semifreddo
You’ll start by making the graham cracker streusel. Crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, spices and butter are combined, then toasted. This gets pressed into the bottom of a lined loaf pan. When inverted, it becomes the topping of the semifreddo.
The eggs are ‘cooked’ with other ingredients over a water bath to create a pumpkin custard and the flavor base of the semifreddo. The custard then gets combined with fresh whipped cream to create an airier mix.
Last, transfer the mix to the loaf pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Cover the semifreddo with overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for at last 8 hours.
Serving Pumpkin + Maple Semifreddo
When you’re ready to serve, unwrap the top of the plastic wrap. Place your serving patter upside down on top of the loaf pan. Carefully hold the loaf pan and platter together as you flip it all over. The plastic wrap will allow the semifreddo to release from the pan and you simply need to gently peel it away.
Run a sharp knife under some hot water to warm the blade — this will make portioning the dessert easier. Wipe it dry and slice the semifreddo into about 1 inch pieces. A little drizzle of maple syrup and a smattering of spiced nuts are lovely optional additions to this dish (I love the Sweet & Spicy Pecans from Trader Joe’s).
The best part of incorporating this into your Thanksgiving menu is that you can make it days in advance! Skip the last minute baking and reclaim some precious zen moments before the big dinner!
Psst…want more dessert? Try my Hazelnut Chocolate Meringue Cake!
Pumpkin + Maple Semifreddo with Graham Cracker Streusel
Graham Cracker Streusel
- 5 whole graham crackers sheets, not individual crackers
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 whole eggs large
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Graham Cracker Streusel
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Crumble graham crackers into the bowl of food processor and add the brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Pulse to a coarse texture, not too fine. Remove to a medium bowl. Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs and stir by hand to combine. Dump this onto a sheet pan lined with parchment and bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool.
- Line a 9×5 metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang all around the edge of the pan. Add the graham cracker streusel to the loaf pan and press in evenly.
- Add water to a saucepan that your stand mixer bowl will sit in. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Bring the water to a simmer.
- Add heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until stiff. Remove to another bowl and set it in the fridge. Clean the bowl & whisk attachment of the stand mixer.
- Add maple syrup, eggs + egg yolks, pumpkin, salt and spice to the stand mixer bowl and whisk to combine. Set it on top of the simmering pot of water and continue to whisk until it reaches 165° to gently cook the eggs. (Use a candy or instant read thermometer to check the temperature.)
- Remove the stand mixer bowl from the simmering water and set it back on the mixer. Whip on high until the bowl is cool to the touch.
- Fold half the whipped cream into the maple-pumpkin mixture. Fold the remaining whipped cream in until combined. Pour this into the loaf pan and smooth the surface with a spatula.
- Gently fold the overhanging plastic over the semifreddo to cover and freeze for at least 8 hours.
- Unwrap the top of the semifreddo and invert it onto a serving platter. Remove the plastic wrap.
- Run a knife under hot water to warm the blade and slice into about 1" slices. Repeat as needed.