Cranberry Semifreddo Cups

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Are you tired of pumpkin yet?

I’m totes not…but, maybe we need a teensy break. Besides, fall has other stars! Pink ones even, like the tart and native-North-American-beauty, the cranberry. In my head I’m saying “cran-brerry,” in case you wanted to know. Anyway, cranberries shouldn’t just be relegated to side dish status. They are tart, a little bitter, and have the prettiest jewel-toned hue.

I’m a big fan of semifreddo, it’s a lot like ice cream–but it isn’t. It’s a little less fussy, since you don’t have to bust out a machine to churn it, but still manages to maintain a light-yet-rich character.  The deep fuchsia cranberry puree turns the best shade of pink when folded into the semifreddo base–no dyes up in here. A little vanilla and some bourbon bring warmth to the bittersweet tang of the cranberry, while whipped cream and egg yolks bring creamy lushness. Even though it’s a pretty easy recipe, this dessert certainly feels fancy and would be a perfect make-a-head treat to round out a fall or holiday gathering.

Cranberry Semifreddo Cups

Adapted from this recipe. 

You could use another fruit puree if you aren’t feeling, or can’t find, cranberries. Any tart, red fruit would be a nice substitute. You can also serve this semifreddo in scoops or smooth it into a loaf pan before freezing and slice once frozen (like this). I garnished these cups with lightly sweetened whipped cream and some chocolate vermicelli sprinkles. I happen to like tart cranberry with chocolate, but if you aren’t a fan, these are lovely unadorned as well. The recipe below produces more cranberry puree than needed–use it to serve these semifreddo cups or save for another use. 

12 ounces cranberries

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons mild honey

2 Tablespoons sugar

3 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons bourbon (optional)

In a medium saucepan combine cranberries, 2/3 cup sugar, and water. Cook over medium heat until cranberries burst and release their juices and the mixture starts to thicken. Press the cranberry mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discard skins and seeds. You will have around 2 cups of cranberry puree. Set aside to cool.

Create an ice bath and set aside.

Fashion a double boiler out of a bowl and a pot with a bit of simmering water in it–place a dampened paper towel on the underside of the bowl, making sure it is just larger than the pot below, to avoid slipping while whisking. This way you are able to whisk without steadying the bowl with your other hand.

Place the honey, remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and egg yolks in the bowl. Whisk over the simmering pan of water until the yolk mixture gains some volume, becomes pale in color, and the whisk is just beginning to leave tracks in the mixture. Slowly drizzle in the vanilla and bourbon–whisking the whole time. Continue to whisk the yolk mixture over the simmering water until thickened and the whisk leaves clear, visible tracks in the yolk mixture. Remove the bowl from over the pot of water and whisk over an ice bath until cooled. Gently fold about 1-1 1/3 cups of the cranberry puree into the yolk mixture.

In a clean bowl, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Fold in 1/3 of the cream mixture into the cooled yolk and cranberry mixture. Once combined, repeat with the remaining whipped cream. Spoon the semifreddo mix into cups, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for several hours until very firm. Serve cold with desired garnishes.

Recipe: Espresso + Toasted Almond Semifreddo

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I really love coffee.

When I was a small child, I would relish visits to my grandparents house…not only for the blackberry picking expeditions and days tromping through the woods surrounding their Sierra foothills home, but, because for breakfast there were often waffles with strawberries and cream AND a mug of sugary milk with a splash of coffee.

That creamy-sweet, slightly coffee flavored mug of goodness was a serious treat. My mom never made it a practice to allow us to have soda, let alone coffee as kids. The only exception (besides trips to grandma and grandpa’s) was when we would go to Baskin Robbins for a scoop–or if we were really lucky, a double–my brother always got a classic kid-friendly flavor, like bubble gum, but I ALWAYS got jamoca almond fudge. Coffee, almonds, and a fudge swirl. So good.

This semifreddo is reminiscent of those childhood days, when coffee-flavored treats felt so mature to my kid-palate. The texture of the semifreddo is somewhere between an ice cream and a mousse–all without the need for a machine to churn it all. It’s flavored with instant espresso, sweet cream, toasty almonds, and creamy almond butter. It’s great on it’s own, but, serving scoops in a puddle of chocolate sauce makes this dessert a touch fancier… Definitely something my young-self would have been into.

Espresso + Toasted Almond Semifreddo

adapted from Pumpkin Semifreddo

I use instant espresso powder in this recipe for ease and because I really like it in desserts.   If you’re feeling fancy, you could definitely brew a few shots, cool, and fold those into the mixture before folding in the almonds and freezing. 

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder–divided

3 Tablespoons honey

3 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons water

3 large egg yolks

2 Tablespoons almond butter

1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted almonds

Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of espresso powder over the cream in a large bowl to dissolve. Once dissolved, whip the cream to medium peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Make an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl. In a large, heatproof bowl whisk together the remaining 1 teaspoon espresso powder, honey, sugar, water, and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and the whisk leaves visible tracks. Remove from heat and continue to whisk over the ice bath until cooled. Fold in the almond butter. Stir in about 1/3 of the prepared whipped cream, then fold in the remaining whipped cream, and lastly fold in the chopped almonds. Scrape the mixture into a container, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 4 hours to set.

Spiced Chocolate Sauce

adapted from The Perfect Scoop

I only made a small quantity of sauce, this is 1/4 of the original recipe. 

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped or chips

1/16-1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan combine water, honey, and cocoa powder, bring to a low boil, remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, spices, and vanilla. Can be used warm or room temperature.




Recipe: Pumpkin Semifreddo

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The weather is definitely cooling down around here, but that doesn’t mean I am done with wanting frozen treats. Sometimes cool and creamy is just what you need despite the season.

It’s true life, that’s all.

It’s been sad times since my ice cream maker broke in the great move to the midwest, but for this dessert you don’t even need that old machine. Just some mad whisking skills (use a mixer or hand blender, unless you just have guns of steel), a bit of folding, and some freezer time. This semifreddo is made up of pumpkin, egg yolks, whipped cream, gingersnap crumbs, and salted caramel sauce.

There’s not one thing in it that I don’t love.

It’s a total win.

Pumpkin Semifreddo

adapted from Tartlette

I added molasses and upped/changed the spice a bit in this recipe. I also layered in that caramel sauce and those gingersnap crumbs I mentioned for texture and goodness. 

1 cup  heavy cream

3 tablespoons mild honey

1 tablespoon molasses

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

3 large egg yolks

3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup gingersnap crumbs

1/4 cup salted caramel sauce

Using a whisk and those guns of steel, or an electric mixer, beat cream in a bowl until it holds soft peaks. Refrigerate.

Separate eggs and place yolks in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Save whites for another use.

Stir together pumpkin and spices in a small bowl, set aside.

In a small sauce pan mix together honey, molasses, sugar, and water. Bring syrup to a boil over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 238F.

Whip egg yolks to break up and slowly add hot syrup while mixer is running on medium. Whip fast enough to make sure the eggs do not scramble, but try not to go so fast that the syrup does not incorporate. Once syrup is completely incorporated into yolks, whip on high until yolks are cool and airy.

Add 1/3 of the cold, whipped cream to the egg yolk mixture to lighten. Fold in pumpkin and spices, plus remaining whipped cream. Sprinkle the bottom of a prepared loaf pan with gingersnap crumbs (line with plastic wrap if you want to turn it out, if simply scooping you can skip that step), scrape half of the semifreddo base into the pan, and smooth the top. Sprinkle with more cookie crumbs and drizzle in about 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce, top with remaining semifreddo base and smooth, sprinkle with more crumbs. Cover the top of the semifreddo with plastic and then a layer of foil and place in freezer for at least 3 hours to set. Scoop or turn out and slice. Serve cold.

Gingersnap Cookies

adapted from Procrastobaker  

I kept the gram measurements here and used a scale, since I didn’t want to mess up the recipe. I also used all butter as I did not have lard or shortening, and upped those spices! 

210 grams all purpose flour

140 grams granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon honey

1 egg

3 ounces of unsalted butter

Melt butter in the microwave and set aside, whisk in honey, and grated ginger, set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and dry spices. Mix melted butter mixture and egg into the dry ingredients until combined well. The dough will be soft and slightly greasy. Chill dough for 30 minutes before rolling.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking pans with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Scoop dough and roll into about 1-inch balls and place on baking sheet spaced about 1 inch apart (cookies will spread). Make a small indentation in the center of each dough ball and bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for 13-15 minutes. Cool cookies slightly on sheets before transferring to cooling racks. Cookies will crisp up as they cool. If they are still too soft in the center, bake for an additional minute or two.

Salted Caramel Sauce

adapted from The Perfect Scoop


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt

In a measuring cup measure out cream and add vanilla, set aside.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat sugar and water over medium-high until sugar is melted and turns dark golden brown in color (the darkest you can get it before burning is best). Remove from heat and quickly whisk in butter and half of cream until combined and smooth. The mixture will steam and bubble furiously, use a oven mitt or towel to wrap your stirring hand. If there are still lumps, heat gently until smooth. Add remaining cream and salt and stir until smooth.