Speculoos & Roasted White Chocolate Semifreddo

Forget ice cream and gelato — semifreddo is all you need. It's dense, super rich, and endlessly versatile. In my opinion, the taste of browned butter is to sweet foods what umami is to savory foods. That goes double for caramel. In that context, roasted white chocolate is a revelation. When roasted, white chocolate loses its fatty, saccharine taste and transforms into a crusty mess of browned butter, caramel, and toasted bread. The addition of speculoos cookies intensifies the browned butter/caramel theme and adds some crunch.

Yields eight to ten servings.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ pound best quality white chocolate
  • 2 cups heavy cream, very cold
  • ¾ Grade-B maple syrup
  • 5 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  • 8 speculoos cookies (I recommend Biscoff brand)

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 250°F. Slice white chocolate into thin shards and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown on top and tan on the bottom. Remove from oven and allow to cool and re-solidify. When solidified, roughly chop so there are no big pieces.
  2. In a chilled bowl, whip the cream on high until it reaches stiff peaks, then refrigerate.
  3. Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat and add the maple syrup. Boil for two minutes, until slightly reduced and darker. Let cool a bit.
  4. Separate egg yolks from whites, placing the yolks into the bowl of a mixer (reserve the whites for another use). Beat on high for two minutes until lighter in color. Slowly and steadily drizzle in the maple syrup while beating on high. Beat continuously for another five minutes, until pale yellow and fluffy.
  5. Stir a quarter of the whipped cream into the beaten yolks, then fold the remaining whipped cream in until it's about half way mixed in.
  6. Crumble in three quarters of the white chocolate and with your hands, crack in 6 of the speculoos cookies. You want big pieces of cookie to contrast with the crumbs of white chocolate. Sprinkle in the flaky sea salt and fold everything in thoroughly.
  7. Spoon into a 5x10 inch loaf pan lined with plastic wrap and sprinkle over the remaining roasted white chocolate and crack in the remaining speculoos cookies. Swirl the semifreddo around the topping to create a pretty ripple pattern on the top.
  8. Freeze at least 5 hours.