Lime Semifreddo with Pretzel Crust Recipe

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The list of desserts I like is lengthy, but semifreddo is definitely one I could have on a weekly basis. Semifreddo (translation: half-cold) is a partially frozen dessert, often, as in the accompanying recipe, made by folding meringue into a flavored base that's then chilled. The result is a light, almost ethereal dessert that doesn't overwhelm. It's the perfect ending for a heavy meal, especially when it's warm out.

This recipe is inspired by Key lime pie—it starts with tart limes, gets sweetened with condensed milk, then you add super-glossy, billowing Italian meringue. A salty, crunchy pretzel crust provides a nice textural contrast and makes the lime flavor pop.

Recipe Facts

Active: 30 mins
Total: 8 hrs 30 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • 1 cup pretzel crumbs (about 2 cups of small pretzel sticks)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Line a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing it to hang generously over the edges. Combine pretzel crumbs, butter, and light brown sugar in medium bowl. Press mixture into bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared loaf pan. Place pan in freezer.

  2. Whisk sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and lime zest in medium bowl until smooth; set aside.

  3. Stir sugar, water, and corn syrup in heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and boil syrup until it registers 240°F on candy thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes.

  4. While syrup boils, with electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat whites and salt on medium speed until loosened, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. When ready, with mixer running on medium-high speed, slowly and carefully add syrup to egg whites. Beat until outside of bowl is cool to the touch and whites are thick and glossy, about 7 minutes.

  6. Mix about 1/3 of meringue to lime mixture. With rubber spatula, fold in remaining meringue. Scrape mixture into frozen crust and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Freeze at least 8 hours.

  7. When ready to serve, wipe sides of loaf pan with a towel dampened with hot water. Using the plastic wrap, pull the semifreddo up and out onto a platter; discard plastic wrap. Slice and serve immediately.

Special equipment

9- by 5-inch loaf pan, candy thermometer