Pumpkin Semifreddo With A Side Of Gingerbread Houses

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Semifreddo

Instead of making pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving this year, I am bringing Pumpkin Semifreddo to my sister-in-law's. It's a riff on one of the desserts we had last week in Asheville and given that we devoured 8 of them in record time, I am pretty sure his family will also appreciate the change. It's cold, creamy, mousse-like with a nice crunch from the gluten free streudel on top. Makes me think of Fall with every bite.

I have always had a soft spot for Asheville during Fall and Winter. When we lived in upstate SC, we would take the beautiful mountain roads and drive around the area, always making a pit stop in there. We had an impromptu getaway in Asheville one Christmas years ago and I dragged B. through the gallery of gingerbread houses on display at The Grove Park Inn. I knew there had been a competition. I had no idea I'd be judging it one day, 5 years later! And with a beautiful friend and work peer as my traveling companion to boot.

The Grove Park Inn - Asheville, NC

Arriving at The Grove Park always makes me feel like I have steppped back in time, somewhere around 1935 when F. Scott Fitzgerald could have been my almost neighbor in room 441 (we were in room 552). Truly a special place, yet one that evolved perfectly with time and where people are the embodiement of Southern hospitality. Fun, gracious, never stuffy and most of all with some of the best foods and drinks around.

I love the view out my kitchen but waking up with this everyday made me rubb my eyes quite a few times. Was I dreaming? What do they put in those drinks that one is constantly beaming to be so peacefully there? Wait, don't answer that one.

The Grove Park Inn - Bloody Mary at The Corner Kitchen

Maybe it's the food. Maybe it's the mountain air. On Saturday night, we all gathered for a "Meet&Greet" among the judges and were treated to some fabulous finger foods prepared in the nick of time by one of the hotel kitchens. Crab salad shooters, various kinds of sushi, potstickers, sliders, shots of lemon mousse and Tiramisu. A special drinks menu prepared just for us and greatly enjoyed by yours truly. The Gingerbread White Russian was as close to liquid dessert as one can get. Don't be fooled though...they hit you like a brick about an hour later.

In hindsight I am quite glad I started the day with a virgin Bloody Mary at Corner Kitchen and burned a couple of calories walking through the River Arts District with Tami and Dodie whom we met on our previous trip there (from Asheville CVB).

Christmas Tree Details - The Grove Park Inn

Yes, there is something magical about The Grove Park this time of year and if you are a sucker for holidays, Christmas, trees and ornaments as much as I am, you will be in heaven walking through the hotel right now. There is a tree in front of every window, each with its own theme. Whether you are a coffee or vintage addict to a Santa and gingerbread figurine lover, you are sure to find a tree for you!

Christmas Tree Details - The Grove Park Inn
My head was spinning at every corner of the hotel with all this whimsy! Glad I found a compass to navigate my way around, down the stairs, up the elevator, around the piano bar and back to our room!

Actually, this much fun is highly conducive to good nights of sleep. I sleep very little and yet I had no problem here putting my brain to rest, close my eyes and sleep a full night. This proved extremely important for the reason I was there in the first place: judging the National Gingerbread House Competition™. Yeah! Get to work Helen! Stop having that much fun with trees! Trust me, this is not an affair taken lightly by anybody. From the competitors entering, to the staff wheeling the houses in the main ballroom to the judges, armed with clipboards and scoring sheets.

Gingerbread House - National Competition

One random thing that hit me around noon is that I should have had more than coffee that morning. After looking at two full rows of houses, the smell of gingerbread was making my stomach growl and my concentration weep. We had 5 criteria on which to base our scores and we took plenty of time to evaluate each and every house thoroughly (from 9.30am to 4.30pm).

There are times when putting the camera down is appropriate, especially when you are surrounded with such seriousness as Colette Peters, Nicholas Lodge, Mark Seaman and Steve Stellingwerf pointing to you the latest trends and techniques. To be honest, just to hear the words pastillage and wafer paper was sending me back years ago when I use to eat, drink and sleep that stuff for work and I *had* to put the camera gear to the side.

Gingerbread House Details

I did however sneaked in toward the end and while a hired team was taking full shots of the houses, I wanted to focus on the details and the artistry behind some houses. These are some of my favorites in design and whimsy although they did not make it to my top picks as they did not have enough "gingerbread" elements which is what we had come here to judge. Sometimes you have to put your heart waves aside and focus on that spread sheet. The grand prize and other winners in each category can be viewed here.

I did marvel at The Fruitcake House (pictured above). All the details were blowing me away. From the floor tiling to the cracked eggs on the work table, the nonpareilles, the fruit cake tally chalk boards and so forth and so on.

Gingerbread House

Another one I admired was the first place winner. It reminded me of the of A Christmas Story and the details were so whimsical and aesthetically perfect that everyone had to stop and admire that one. For some judges, there was "not enough gigerbread" to win Grand Prize for others, it was "the one". Yeah, I know, we're tough, but in the wash-out of scoring and tabulating, I think that we indeed picked all the houses that deserved to be in the Top 10.

Gingerbread House Details

I just love the aesthetics and color scheme of that one!

It was a long and exhausting day but we were rewarded with a fantastic dinner at Horizons where I had the chance to sit across Colette and Steve and talk shop, sugar and cake for a few hours. I was also blown away by Mark's fluent French and truly envy his yearly excursion to France to tour Patisseries.

Before I get to the recipe I want to extend a huge "Thank You" to my fellow judges, to Jeff, Brian "The Gingerbread Man", Susan, Ron and Rick who made our stay so pleasant and memorable. You guys know your stuff and do it well. Bravo.

Pumpkin Semifreddo

We have had many reasons to feel lost this year but we have many more reasons to be grateful, starting with our family, our friends and your constant support and visits. Thank You. Have a fantastic Thanksgiving!

Now...let's talk Pumpkin Semifreddo...

During our lavish dinner at Horizons at The Grove Park Inn, we were presented with a delicious selection of desserts, some I had had the pleasure to make before and one that made everyone ask for more, the Pumpkin Semifreddo. I did not ask for a recipe because it is pretty straightforward to reproduce and instead of doing a full blown plated dessert as we had that night, I served mine in jars and other ramekins for a more casual presentation.

Pumpkin Semifreddo

Pumkin Semifreddo

Serves 8

For the semifreddo:
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
3 tablespoons (65gr)honey (I like wildflower the best)
2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (120gr) pumkin puree (I used canned as I was making 150 of these for a catered event but feel free to make your own puree from fresh and cooked pumpkin)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumble topping:
1/2 cup (80 gr) sweet brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca (30gr) flour
1/4 cup sorghum (30gr) flour
1/2 cup (100 gr) light packed brown sugar
1/2 stick (55 gr) unsalted butter, softened

Prepare the Semifreddo:
In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the whisk attachment or hand held one with ballon whisks, beat the cream until it just holds soft peaks. Refrigerate it while you prepare the base of the ice cream. Wash your bowl and whisk attachment.

In a heavy saucepan, stir together the honey, sugar, and the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Since you are not making caramel, it is ok to stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Let it boil and bring the mixture registers 238°F on a candy thermometer.

This second part is easier to do with a hand held mixer than a KA for example since the quantity of egg yolks is small and the bowl tends to be deep in some models. It works, have no fear...it's just easier with a hand held one.

In the clean bowl of your mixer, still using the whisk attachment, beat the yolks for a minute to loosen them up. Reduce speed to medium and pour the hot honey mixture in a steady stream over them. Go fast enough to prevent the eggs from scrambling but not so fast that you end up with most of the syrup on the wall of the bowl or the whisk. Continue to whip at medium-high speed until the mass is completely cold and airy.

Fold about one third of the chilled whipped cream into the semifreddo base to loosen it up and make it easier to incorporate homogeneously. Add the pumkin puree, the spices and the remaining whipped cream and fold until everything is incorporated.
Divide mixture evenly among dishes cover with plastic wrap and freeze until set.

Prepare the topping:
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, blend the flours, sugar and butter with your fingertips or a pastry cutter to form large clumps of dough. Lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature before breaking the clumps into smaller crumbs.

When ready to serve, take the ramekins out of the freezer 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time so they have a "half frozen' consistency and top each semifreddo with some crumble and some whipped cream if desired.

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[Full Disclosure] As a guest of The Grove Park Inn, I did not pay for the room and dinners (friday through monday). Any meals and drinks that were not part of the group scheduled ones (saturday brunch-nightcaps at the hotel) were paid by me. I drove my own little self there, on my own little gas money.

80 comments:

Jessica said...

Beautiful pictures to put you in the holiday spirit. Love them. :) I've never semifredo. I'm so deprived!

Maria said...

I am in awe every time I visit your site. Great holiday post!

Fifi Flowers said...

OMG... that looks soooo DELICIOUS... PLEASE let me come over and taste test it for you!!!

Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf said...

Wow! The details are extraordinary, just boggles my mind that it's sugar. And yes, even the cracked egg with yolk there on the table! This post will certainly get you in the holiday spirit! Such beautiful photos and a delicious recipe to go with. Fabulous.

Lindsay C said...

Your pictures are beautiful...and very yummy looking! I was thinking of making my own pumpkin custards for Thanksgiving but I may have to give these a try instead!

El said...

Sounds like it was a lot of work and a lot of fun. I can't believe the level of detail on some of these houses - incredible. Great photos too!

Cheri said...

Those gingerbread houses are absolutely stunning! So much detail and such artistry. Congratulations to all who made it in the top 10!

That pumpkin semifreddo has go me drooling. My parents just went gluten free so I just may have to make this for them over the holidays. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

montague said...

that must have been fun! also, i love your twist on Thanksgiving dessert, and your presentation is impeccable and lovely, as usual.
and i have a little giveaway on my blog if you want to play!

Baked Alaska said...

Thanks for sharing the photos with us. It looks like there were some amazing works to judge there. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful photography! I hope they had as much fun making those gorgeous creations as you did judging them. Happy Thankgiving to you!

Toni said...

Woоооw! Incredible beauty! I stayed left speechless!!!

Kitchen M said...

The best and cutest gingerbread house I've ever seen!! When you put those up on Twitter photo last night, I thought you made them. (Actually I wouldn't be shocked if you did.)

Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Mmm beautiful pumpkin semifreddo -- that sounds so delicious! And thank you for posting the fantastic gingerbread creations you got to see! Looks like it was a lovely event. Makes me want to make my own (much, much simpler) gingerbread house this year :)

Karine Keldany said...

I love theses gingerbread creations. I checked the Official website through the link you posted and I was blown away. All categories were amazingly creative. I also love the Fruitcake house. It reminds me a lot of an amazing huge gingerbread sail boat with almond paste sailor bunnies; I had received from an uncle when I was 6. You should have seen the details of this boat. The bunnies were all dressed in sailor suits and the wood floors were made of croquants and pralines. I still dream of this amazing creation till now. hehehe

I have a small question Helen. I live in Montreal (Canada) and can't find brown rice flour anywhere. Is there a way of making it with brown rice? Will it be the same if I just grind it? Or do you know any online vendors? Thank you in advance.

tami said...

Helen-

Your post is absolutely beautiful. It's making me miss Asheville and miss YOU. Oh yeah...and crave that semi-freddo. XOXO <3

-t*

Elizabeth said...

As someone who has been known to watch the national gingerbread house competition on TV, I appreciated the insider's perspective! Thanks for those up-close photos of the beautiful detail. I love the gingerbread library!

Tartelette said...

Karine Keldany: I make my own by grinding raw brown rice in a coffee grinder until very fine and by sifting it before using.

Maris said...

This post put me in the holiday season early! I love it. Have a great Thanksgiving and enjoy the semifreddo!

candice said...

The photos are absolutely gorgeous. I love holiday colors---they're so bright and warming! The gingerbread man inside the mug is just too cute. So is the mini-chef. :o)

I've bookmarked this recipe. I only first tried semifreddo during the summer, but seeing as how I love anything pumpkin, this'll have to be my second taste! I love how you use all the different types of flour for the crumble topping. ... Of course, I'm wondering how this would taste if I subbed kabocha for pumpkin... ;)

Lauren said...

Looks like a blast! And the semifreddo sounds delicious. Since my Thanksgiving was a month ago, this may just be the perfect way to end November, or at least the week =D.

Marija said...

How fun! Those houses are so adorable!

♥peachkins♥ said...

I love those Christmas decors!

Quinn said...

Beautiful shots and Happy Thanksgiving Tartelette!

boogie said...

i'm definitely in the Christmas mood now after seeing these pics! mmmmm i love everything pumpkin!!!

alisa said...

I want to make this recipe for thanksgiving but I'm slightly confused. How do you get the 'mass cold and airy' when you are pouring hot liquid onto the yolks? I think I missed something.

Thank you!

Mimi said...

Thanks for sharing your awesome photos and experience at the gingerbread competition.
The details of the houses blow my mind.
The pumpkin semifreddo sounds so light and refreshing, just what you need after a big meal.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Mimi

Tartelette said...

alisa: the hot liquid tempers the egg yolks bringing them to a temperature that is safe to be eaten (as they are not cooked in a cake for example).
The continuing whipping until they are cold and airy is two-fold: the batter won't melt your whipped cream as the two come into contact and the air you incorporate as you whip is there to create the light texture of the frozen base, kind of like churning an ice cream base.
Hope that helps.

shaz said...

Wow, those "houses" sure are a work of art, you judges certainly had your work cut out for you. The semifreddo sounds divine. Happy Thanksgiving

sweetakery said...

Wow! The details are amazing! Fabulous photos and recipe, i wish to try the recipe but most of the ingredients are not available here! =(

angela@spinachtiger said...

Between the pumpkin and gingerbread I smell holidays. I understand "the lost" part of this past year. My husband lost his job and has started a business venture with one set back after another, but also with blessings. I'm going to browse your site to make him something special. We still feel very fortunate. Your site is so beautiful, not just the pictures, but your personality comes through and keeps me coming back.

Dodol & Mochi said...

Looks yummy! Awesome photography & styling as always!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cheers from Malaysia,
Pei-Lin

strawberriesinparis said...

Wow! What an honor to be able to judge such masterpieces! That semifreddo sounds really good! think I'll make some of that for friday when I'm just having dinner with my dad! Happy thanksgiving Helen, I am so thankful for all of the inspiration you give me all the time.

Mary said...

The semifreddo looks unbelievably good and I'm sure it tastes every bit as good as it looks. The photography in your post is really spectacular. Have a wonderful holiday.

gaelle@whatareyoufeedingyourkidsthesedays.com said...

It is incredible! I'm amazed by the level of details in all the houses on display (and there were many!). What an incredible experience! Needless to say that you are putting me in a Holiday mood (and mode). I am just so disappointed you did not post any recipe for gingerbread (but maybe it's already on your blog). My husband and I wanted to make one with our children for Christmas. In the meantime, I'll try the semi-freddo. Merci and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Tartelette said...

gaelle: there are so many people making great gingerbread that I tend to leave that expertise to them. And I seriously lack time and space these days to venture into it!!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

What a wonderful post. I am sure it was bliss being there, it looks beyond charming! Thank you, for the timely holiday inpsiration.
xo Happy Thanksgiving, Lidy

tasteofbeirut said...

Thanks for sharing this event. I am so blown away by the artistry and le savoir-faire of these pastry artists.
I wonder how many hours went into each one of these!

Rambling Tart said...

Mmm, absolutely gorgeous! Makes me feel all warm and mumsy :-) Thank you!

Ellie said...

Awesome pictures, awesome details on the gingerbread houses. Read this post really put me into festive mood.

Veronique said...

I live in Trinidad & Tobago, no thanksgiving for me. I do miss it, I lived 18 years in the U.S, and really enjoy this special day. I am however having a dinner party on Saturday and will definitively try the Pumpkin semifreddo. I will let you know how it turned out

Lori said...

Nothing like pumpkin and cream together this time of year. Delicious.

Amy J in SC said...

Just got back yesterday from The Grove Park. The creations were lovely and your two favorites were definitely in my top picks. Amazing. Have yet to look through my photos but I hope I managed to get some as good as yours. Look forward to posting about it next week.

Pumpkin semifreddo...yum! I wish I would've known that was there too!

eliza said...

my spirit is lifted when I saw all those holiday pictures! happy Thanksgiving to you Helen!

Katie said...

Wow those gingerbread houses are amazing. The attention to detail is fantastic - I want one! Your pumpkin semifreddo looks divine and perfect for this time of year

Y said...

Thanks so much for sharing those pictures! Incredible, the amount of detail in those houses. Love your semifreddo too.

Aran said...

this post is making me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! how i love this time of year!

The Purple Foodie said...

Love the warm colours of the photos. The semifreddo looks lovely. Happy thanksgiving to you and your family!

zegliano said...

thanks for the semifreddo recipe - looks great.

allison
@
http://lastbite.blogspot.com

writing4612 said...

That dessert looks delicious and I don't eat pumpkin that often. You certainly have a knack for coming up with out of the box recipes and presentations.

The details on those gingerbread houses are amazing. I have no doubt that the contestants hands were throbbing after doing those meticulous designs. I'm in awe of the limitless imaginations of some people. I'm sure the judges had a very hard time narrowing it down.

Dharm said...

I just love this! It is just so fantastic - all that detail!!

Ash said...

I love the pumpkin semifreddo!! love it in the jars too!

Oh my!! Those houses are amazing!!!

Eléonora said...

Une belle recette, bien savoureuse…bon week-end !

Jen Yu said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you guys! Thinking of you and B and the pups. Great recipe but I have to say your captures of the gingerbread houses are awesome. I mean, the captures are awesome AND the houses are awesome! So adorable, the attention to detail. I'm sure had you thrown your hat into the ring, you would have blown them all away ;) xoxo

glamah16 said...

The details in those Gingerbread houses blow me away!

Manggy said...

I love that the dude appears to be making a very tiny batch of gingerbread!! I don't think I would have made a very good judge-- the smells of the gingerbread would have hypnotized me :)

Jo said...

The pictures of all the Christmas stuff are so beautiful and you know that the holidays are just around the corner. Although Chinese New Year is a big holiday in Singapore, I always enjoy Christmas more .. the whole atmosphere makes me feel so warm and comforted.

Kelly-Jane said...

Wow wonderful pictures. There is just so much detail in the houses - amazing.

nikki said...

Beautiful photos and gingerbread houses! The photos make me feel as if I'm watching a stop motion film unfold in slow motion.

Kate said...

Beautiful gingerbread houses. Wow! The attention to detail is phenomenal!

Cakebrain said...

What gorgeous pictures! I am floored with the detail in the houses! My favourite is the fruitcake house!

Sandy Smith said...

This is a gorgeous dessert, and as I cannot face one more pumpkin pie, I will be using this recipe to take care of the remaining pumpkin puree in my refrigerator. Thank you!!

kellypea said...

What a fabulous city -- it sounds like it has the makings of a perfect place to stay for a while and relax. Gorgeous photos of amazing talent with those gingerbread houses. The pumpkin dessert isn't too shabby either, of course. I just happen to have some left over pumpkin. What shortage? ; )

A Life In Focus Photography said...

wonderful post! love the photos and the food...

lisa @ dandysugar said...

Wow,looks like such a fantastic time--such amazing artistry. The pumpkin semifreddo would be a great alternative to the pumpkin pie. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Lisa said...

Wow, Helen..I came here to wax poetic about how bummed I was that you didn't take part i my challenge because I couldn't wait to see what YOu came up with (I always look forward to your challenge posts, and I know you would have done some serious 'damage' to traditional cannoli..'damage' being a good thing!) and what do I see? Amazing pumpkin semifreddo and the fact that YOU'RE ONE OF THE JUDGES IN THE GROVE PARK GINGERBREAD HOUSE COMPETITION!!! OK..I sort of worship this event and want to take part in it one day. I am more than duly impressed and so excited to read about it! *HUGS*..everything looks so quaint and beautiful..I can almost smell the gingerbread and spicy potpourri like 'air'. That is one cool gig, and your write up and photos are wonderful and fun as always :)

Jennifer Iannolo said...

This blog post just seriously sparked my holiday spirit. Your photos are so lovely that I want to crawl inside them so I can taste. :)

emma. our kitchen said...

Your photos are stunning! They are making me hungry and it is only 8am here in New Zealand and breakfast has not long passed! It is so beautiful to see all your Christmas photos too - the first things to really get me into the Christmas spirit.
Thank you!

The Teacher Cooks said...

This really gets you into the spirit of Christmas. Beautiful photos.

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Where to start.... It sounds like you had a great time. Love the detailed scenes you captured, truly shows off the artistry of the builders, but of the photographer too. I can almost picture some of those scenes coming to life. Also love that you've turned the quintessential Thanksgiving dessert into an Italian masterpiece.

Kelsey said...

What a gorgeous post - it really puts me in the spirit!

Jenny said...

Brilliant choice in having you as a judge! We went to see the houses yesterday and the book and bakery two were my favorites. Your photos do them so much justice; the rest of us have to view them behind glass.

Cristie said...

Beautiful post. Beautiful place. Beautiful food.

Asheville Foodie said...

Helen, you are part artist and part genius! You write the best blog posts and the photography with it is always exceptional.

Thank you for joining us again! I deeply regretted being out of the country while you were here (full disclosure: only I regretted missing you but loved my trip to Mexico!).

Merry Christmas!
Kevin

Julia @ Mélanger said...

What a fabulous event that you were involved in. And judging all those creations????? So difficult.

I see things like this, and it really starts to feel festive - even though the weather here in Brisbane doesn't!

Terry said...

I love your site and appreciate the photography.Great.I have a question for the group.I want to make this but where I live (Arkansas)I can't get tapioca and sorgum flour.What can I do to make this?

Tartelette said...

Terry:
tapioca flour is also called tapioca starch. You can replace it with potato or cornstarch. For the sorghum, you can use sweet rice or regular rice flour, amaranth, millet, quinoa flour, almond flour or any other nut flour, even coconut flour, etc.. If you don't have to go gluten free you can replace all the non gf flours with 1 cup all purpose flour.
Hope that helps.

Christie Bishop said...

Hi! I've been a fan of your site for a while and love, love, LOVE this pumpkin semi-freddo recipe. And the photos of the gingerbread house contest? Fantastic. I just started my own food blog (www.PardonMyCrumbs.com) and aspire to have my site as polished as Tartelette! Thanks for the inspiration. :)

Q. said...

The detail in those gingerbread houses is astonishing. Crazy stuff! Beautiful shots of the ornaments.

Jen said...

I will be trying these~~ Thank you so much for posting it!! My daughter asked me just yesterday if she can ever have pumpkin pie again (recently diagnosed with Celiac) I will be making these for her tonight! The gluten free topping will make her SO happy!

Alisa said...

I made this the other day and it is delicious indeed. Maybe a little late in the season.. but I wager there is nothing wrong with a little nostalgia. I wonder how it might taste with a little yogurt added to the cream. Anyway, thank you!

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