Vanilla Bean Semifreddo with Caramel & Pecans

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Once again it’s been a while since I updated my blog. Though previously I had wanted to avoid posting two sweet dishes back to back, this recipe is so easy that I really wanted to share it. The first time I made it I decided to make the caramel sauce from scratch following David Lebovitz’s recipe. Making caramel seems to be hit or miss with me. Sometimes I will get the batch right on the first try, but other times I’m likely to turn an entire bag of sugar into charcoal. Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) has a great fool-proof recipe for caramel sauce as well, if you’re not prepared to tackle the daunting task of creating molten sugar syrup the old fashioned way. And of course if you want to take the easiest way out, get thee to a local grocery store and buy a jar of their tastiest caramel. Ideally you’ll want something with pouring consistency that can easily be swirled throughout your vanilla mixture, but let me just say that I tried this with a jar of super firm dulce de leche and it was awesome. While you don’t get the beautiful marbled appearance that comes with using a more liquid sauce, the finished product is chock full of hidden caramel treasure globs. Yeah, that’s right – treasure globs. Whichever way you decide to do it it’s gonna taste incredimazing.


Vanilla Semifreddo with Pecan Caramel on a Chocolate Pecan Crust


Some of you may be sitting there asking yourself, “What the heck is semifreddo anyway?” Well, it’s basically a frozen dessert similar to ice cream, except it is served slightly soft… which makes sense when you consider that semifreddo literally translates to “half cold”. The texture is silky and creamy and wonderful… but that’s not even the best part. The really great thing about it is that there is no churning required. It is a fine day indeed when an apartment dweller with limited storage space for single use appliances learns how to make a delicious no churn ice cream. Honestly I am torn between feelings of righteousness and guilt over sharing this recipe. On one hand you’re going to learn that you can make a super awesome dessert that people will think you slaved over (when it’s actually in the freezer in about 20 minutes), but on the other hand I’m giving you the key to a vault that holds eleventy billion scrumptious calories. You know what? I’m over it. Go make this and thank me later.


Vanilla Semifreddo with Pecan Caramel on a Chocolate Pecan Crust

Vanilla Bean Semifreddo with Caramel & Pecans

Summary: A delicious no churn ice cream pie swirled with caramel and nuts.


  • 1 half sleeve chocolate wafer cookies (about 15-20); I used Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of roasted, salted pecans
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 tablespoons spiced rum
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pecans, chopped
  • Chocolate sauce for drizzling (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In food processor add wafer cookies, 1/2 cup of pecans, and brown sugar. Pulse until coarse and crumbly then add in the melted butter and pulse until mixture is just moistened. Press into bottom of a round springform pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  4. In a large bowl whisk together sweetened condensed milk, rum, vanilla bean scrapings, salt, and 1 tablespoon of your caramel sauce. Set aside.
  5. Whip the whipping cream until soft peaks form. I prefer to do this in my food processor, but you can always use a hand held beater or even good ol’ elbow grease if you like.
  6. Very gently whisk half of the whipped cream into your sweetened condensed milk mixture. When combined gently whisk in the rest until smooth.
  7. Stir chopped pecans into prepared caramel sauce. Depending on how much “swirl” you would like in your ice cream you can always adjust the amount of caramel and pecans to suit your taste.
  8. Pour half of the cream mixture onto the baked and cooled crust. Follow by spooning half of the pecan caramel on top of it. Repeat this step so you have cream, caramel, cream, caramel in the pan. Gently swirl a knife through it to create a marbled effect.
  9. Transfer to the freezer, cover, and allow to set for a good 6 hours, preferably overnight. To release it from the pan run a sharp knife along the edges and pop the springform clasp so the pan opens up. Top with additional caramel, chocolate sauce, or chopped pecans if desired (trust me, it’s desired). It should keep in the freezer for about a week, but holding onto it any longer could risk the formation of ice crystals and the loss of that silky texture.

Preparation time: 25 minute(s)

Freezing time: 6-12 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

Calories: 438


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