Not Your Church Lady's Strawberry Semifreddo


Recipe excerpted from Food Between Friends by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Tanous. Inspired by Julie's childhood favorite Strawberry Pretzel Salad--this creamy, semifrozen dessert swirls strawberries and cream over a pretzel-crumb crust.

Not Your Church Lady's Strawberry Semifreddo
Photo: Eva Kolenko
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
7 hrs 20 mins


Pretzel Crunch:

  • 2 ½ cup salted mini pretzels (about 3 1/2 ounces)

  • 3 tablespoon nonfat milk powder

  • ½ cup plus 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 10 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 ½ pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 4 1/2 cups)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

  • cup sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 ½ cup heavy cream


  1. For the pretzel crunch: Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan crosswise with parchment paper so there's at least 1 inch of overhang on each side.

  2. In a medium bowl crumble pretzels with your hands, breaking them into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Add the milk powder, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, the brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; toss to combine. Pour in 7 tablespoons of the melted butter and toss until pretzels are well-coated.

  3. Spread pretzel mixture on the baking sheet. Bake until pretzels are lightly toasted, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Let cool completely.

  4. Set aside 1/2 cup of the pretzel crunch for topping, then transfer the remainder to a food processor. Add remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter. Pulse for five 1-second bursts. Scrape down sides of the bowl, then pulse about five more times or until pretzels are broken down into small crumbs but are not completely uniform or pulverized. Press the mixture in an even layer in bottom of loaf pan. Freeze until ready to use.

  5. For the jam: In a medium pot combine strawberries and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until strawberries have broken down into a thick, chunky jam and have reduced to about 1 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Let the strawberry jam cool completely.

  6. For the semifreddo: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine cream cheese, condensed milk, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Mix on medium 1 minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl, then continue mixing on medium-high until totally smooth and slightly fluffy, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a medium bowl.

  7. In the stand mixer bowl (no need to clean it), combine the cream and remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. Mix on medium-high until cream holds medium-stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes.

  8. Add a large scoop of the whipped cream to cream cheese mixture and gently stir together. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream and fold together just until no streaks remain. Gently fold in half of the strawberry jam--just enough to create streaks--then gently fold in the remaining jam. The mixture should look marbled with pockets of jam. Transfer mixture to the loaf pan with the pretzel crust, smoothing the top. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours and up to 3 days.

  9. To serve, use the parchment paper to lift the semifreddo out of the pan and place on a flat surface. Let sit at room temperature about 15 minutes. Sprinkle reserved pretzel crunch over top, slice, and serve. Serves 8.


To store leftover semifreddo: Use the parchment paper to transfer the semifreddo back to the loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Leftovers will keep in the freezer up to 1 week. The pretzel crunch can be made ahead and will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or in the fridge or freezer for 1 month.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

652 Calories
43g Fat
62g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 652
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 27g 135%
Cholesterol 127mg 42%
Sodium 482mg 21%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 23%
Total Sugars 49g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 52.6mg 263%
Calcium 192mg 15%
Iron 1.1mg 6%
Potassium 400mg 9%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 50.8mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.4mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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