Durian Ice Cream Semifreddo Pie

durian ice cream
Durian. Just the mere mention of the name elicits extremes of love and craving as well as horror and disgust. Anthony Bourdain, a lover of durian, describes his experience as thus: “Its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” We fall squarely in the love durian camp and it so happened that our brother in law told us he was dreaming of a durian cake for his birthday. At the same time we were reading the Pie A Day on Evan Kleiman’s blog Good Food and the wheels in our heads started churning and our concept was born. Durian in a form of an ice cream is much less offensive (at least to some) and with the hot whether it would be the perfect filling for a frozen pie.

We didn’t stop to think that for one, we don’t own an ice cream maker and two, we have never made a pie, meringue, tart or anything close to resembling a pie before. The closest thing to is our pork filled banh pate chaud, a meat pie with puff pastry. But we took it as a challenge and a concept that we tossed around in our heads, praying that it would work. After doing some research we decided on using Jaime Oliver’s basic recipe for a semifreddo (Italian for “half cold”), which is like a ice cream, but has more of texture of a frozen mousse and can be made without an ice cream maker. For the crust, we wanted something that would hold up to a good freeze so decided on a basic short bread cookie crust.  We made this entirely with our brand new Viking Pro Stand Mixer which we won in California Olive Ranch contest.

The durian has a high amount of natural fats so we added some key lime to the durian to add some tartness and cut down some of the richness. The guava coulis is another tart yet sweet flavor that we though would work well with durian.

durian semifreddo

This recipe yields 2 small 9 inch pies–you don’t want to reduce it–trust us, it’s worth it! If after reading this you still have no desire to try durian, you can substitute with any fruit puree.

An even quicker way to enjoy this is just by pouring the mixture into a mode such as a baking pan lined with plastic wrap and a layer of nuts and forego the crust.  Freeze and then either scoop out or flip out the semifreddo and slice small sections. 

durian semifreddo

The end result? A smooth semifreddo with just enough hints of durian to peak everyone’s interest and nice texture with the crumbly shortbread crust.  No ice cream maker? No problem! The semifreddo method is quick and simple. Our brother in law had a very, very, happy birthday and had his durian cravings fulfilled. 


Durian Semifreddo Pie with Shortbread Crust and Guava Coulis


Durian Semifreddo
1/2 cup durian puree (use up to 3/4 cup for the more adventurous)
1 1/2 tbs fresh squeezed key lime
1 1/2 tbs sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt
Shortbread Crust
1 cup AP flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/8 ts salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Guava Coulis
1 cup guava puree
1/4 cup sugar
1 ts key lime


This recipe does require a little bit of planning. Ideally you should make this one day before you plan on serving.
Start with the crust by processing the flour, sugar, salt, and slowly adding the butter until it forms into a clumpy dough. In a greased pie pan, make a very thin layer of crust, about 1/8 inch thick. Freeze for at least 1/2 hr to prevent shrinkage and during this time preheat oven too 400 degrees. Remove chilled crust and add a pie weight (of layer of parchment paper filled with beans/rice etc to prevent puffiness) and bake about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the weight and liberally score the crust with a fork and continue to bake until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool.
Fresh or frozen durian will work. Two good size pieces of durian flesh will yield approximately 1/2 a cup. Puree durian flesh with sugar and key lime until very smooth and set aside.
In large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until a thickened smooth pale yellow color. Fold in the durian puree and mix well. Set this aside in the fridge.

In a separate bowl, mix the whipping cream until it form soft peaks. Do not over whip as it will curdle. Gently fold this into the yolk and durian mixture until it complete incorporates. Set this aside in the fridge.

Finally, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until you get stiff peaks. Gently fold this into the durian mixture until it is completely incorporates.

Now carefully add the mixture to the cooled pie crust and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for about 4 hours or overnight.

To make the guava coulis, reduce the guava puree, sugar, and key lime by 1/3 under low heat. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

About 1 hour before serving, transfer pie into fridge to become "semifreddo." Sprinkle any toppings you like..chopped pistachios or almonds works well. Top with guava coulis (use a squeeze bottle or spoon on) and enjoy!

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26 Responses to “Durian Ice Cream Semifreddo Pie”

  1. 1

    Dee — July 7, 2010 @ 9:41 pm

    I fall into the horror category. Smelled it once, tried it once. NEVER EVER EVER again. Is there such a taste as gasoline drenched rotting banana slugs seasoned with cat urine. If there was, that would be durian.

    haha. sorry, wont be trying this recipe out. might sub durian for something pleasant, like mango 🙂

  2. 2

    Gastronomer — July 7, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    I want to love durian SO SO much, but alas, it tastes terrible to me… Your pie, on the other hand, looks so dang good that I'm willing to give durian another go 🙂

  3. 3

    Fresh Local and Best — July 7, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

    In the book The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy, the British novelist Anthony Burgess describes the experience of eating durian “like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.”

    I grew up eating durian every week, and while I love it, got sick and tired of my mom's obsession with this "aromatic" tropical fruit. I'm sure I would love this pie as much as my mom would. Great job on creativity and imagination!

  4. 4

    Forager @ The Gourmet Forager — July 8, 2010 @ 5:43 am

    I fall in the love category – but I was too optimistic that everyone would like it if introduced to it properly. My bf's 87 year old Italian grandfather was brave but not surprisingly didn't like it. He was astounded at how much it stank. Might have to make this and eat it alone!

  5. 5

    Ju (The Little Teochew) — July 8, 2010 @ 9:33 am

    NO YOU DIDN'T! OMG! This looks so so so good!!! Can you hear me squealing??? You guys, this one's a star!

  6. 6

    momgateway — July 8, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    You leave me speechless with this pie…where can I get durian??

  7. 7

    nelehelen — July 8, 2010 @ 10:54 pm

    i have yet to try durian.. so i guess i can either hate it love it. But, if durian tastes as good as your pictures look, then i'm sold!! 🙂

  8. 8

    Dskco — July 9, 2010 @ 2:59 am

    Ahhh!!! Durian *runs away* lol
    Looks beautiful guys and my parents would LOVE this if I made it for them, but I'm part of the population that can't be around it, haha.

  9. 9

    Debi (Table Talk) — July 9, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    I have never had durian, but am now curious to see which side of the fence I would land. ~Now to find some…
    You sure have made a pretty dessert with it!
    p.s. I wrote about your Bun Thit Nuong in my latest post—can't get enough of it in this hot weather.

  10. 10

    pigpigscorner — July 9, 2010 @ 4:16 pm

    You got me at durian!!! I miss durian!

  11. 11

    Jackie at Phamfatale.com — July 10, 2010 @ 6:39 am

    I just read the comment on this thread and it just made me smile. My husband absolutely hates the smell (overwelmingly foul to my hubby), the look and don't get me started with the taste of durian.
    But I LOVE durian, love love everything about it. It is very sweet and creamy and I'm sure the pie was delicious. Beautiful decoration with the guava drizzle. 🙂

  12. 12

    ♥¸¸.•*¨Skip to Malou¨¨*•.¸¸♥¸ — July 11, 2010 @ 12:58 am

    Because of the "rumored" notorius smell of durian, I never laid my eyes nor hand on the fruit…

    But looking at your Durian Semifreddo Pie, I wouldn't even think that it's the same fruit, I've known it to be.

  13. 13

    thang @ noodlies.com — July 11, 2010 @ 2:45 am

    Looks amazing! Making me hungry!

  14. 14

    Ravenous Couple — July 11, 2010 @ 2:36 pm

    thanks everyone for your comments! we just got back from a week long vacation and love hearing your durian stories and where you sit on side of the love/hate relationship with durian.

  15. 15

    Jen Archer — July 12, 2010 @ 10:08 am

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  16. 16

    Tiny Urban Kitchen — July 12, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

    I'm in the "dubious" camp. I once tried durian ice cream and I thought it smelled faintly of garbage, but I'm willing to give it another shot! Maybe your pie would convince me otherwise! In any event, it's beautiful!

  17. 17

    Ravenous Couple — July 12, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

    Jen: brought the pie into work and everyone ate it and enjoyed it–didn't tell them what it was until after–think it gets lot of preconceived bad rep

  18. 18

    Kitchen Runway — July 12, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    My mom and sister are huge fans of durian…me not so much….but this pie looks pretty delicious! =)

  19. 19

    Diana — July 13, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

    I've only encountered durian once — at the Chocolate Salon in Pasadena in truffle form. It did not go over so well with my mouth. I immediately washed the taste out with another piece of chocolate. That said, this semifreddo looks amaaazing. Might actually be inclined to try a slice of it! If there's some chocolate nearby in case I need to wash out my mouth again. 😉

  20. 20

    Mei Teng — July 15, 2010 @ 8:10 am

    I love durians on its own and also in cakes, pancakes etc. Yum!

  21. 21

    petite nyonya — July 17, 2010 @ 1:33 pm

    durian must be really expensive in the US? can you get fresh ones there or frozen puree? no one in my fmly who doesn't love durian. it's the king of fruits for us malaysians!

  22. 22

    Ngân Đàm — July 27, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

    I splurged and bought a fresh durian last week. It was delicious, just the perfect ripeness, hence no leftover for pie-making!

  23. 23

    Kung Food Panda — August 3, 2010 @ 2:53 pm

    I'm not sure I could accept this. I've had fresh, frozen, durian in a pastry, and I still dislike it. Sorry, it does look like a damn tasty looking pie/cheesecake/semi freddo though!

  24. 24

    Anonymous — November 10, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

    I tried this recipe out, and it is amazing; so, thank you so much for sharing! However, I was not able to find guava puree. Where would you be able to find this? There's guava nectar at my local grocery store, but I figured it wouldn't give the same texture or result. Again, thanks for sharing your genius creation! – Brianna

  25. 25

    Olive Oil Gelato and Give Away! — May 31, 2011 @ 5:08 am

    […] love “exotic” ice cream flavors. Take our durian semifreddo pie for example.  Perhaps its in our Vietnamese blood growing up eating exotic fruits such as […]

  26. 26

    Easy Italian Recipes — April 10, 2014 @ 7:43 am

    Hi! Your semifreddo recipe was nominated as one of the “Best 300 Semifreddo Recipes on the Net”. To vote for it, please visit http://easyitalianrecipes.org/dessert-recipes/best-300-italian-semifreddo-recipes-on-the-net-vote-for-your-favorite/ – your recipe is positioned at #64 (random order).

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