Pie-a-Day #22: Durian Semifreddo Pie

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Thanks to the Ravenous Couple for this incredibly creative — and brave — pie.

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 think many of the descriptions tend to be more hyperbole, scaring away many would be durian lovers.  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 in this 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.

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. 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.

So what side of the durian camp do you fall on?

Check out the recipe here.