Cheesecake Parfait – A Lesson on Dessert in a Glass

Sorry to disappoint but I do not come bearing any St. Patty’s Day (oops sorry I know that will rile some of you up – make that St. Paddy’s Day) recipes. No artificial, alien-like, neon green concoctions here. If it’s any consolation, the limes I used in the citrus curd were green. Although the resulting juice definitely had more of a yellow hue.
What I really want to talk about though is dessert – dessert in a glass that is. I’m kind of obsessed with the concept lately. A few weeks back I made this killer trifle so I guess I had to keep the streak going.
There’s something about putting your sweets in a glass and taking a spoon and going to town that is just the epitome of appealing. It’s like vegging out on the couch with a tub of ice cream after a long, traumatic day. Not that I have ever done that actually but I imagine that is what it would be like.
The 2 keys are texture and flavor. There has to be that balance of creamy/crunchy rich/tangy. Something acidic to brighten up the works. I would say you need at least 3 different components to make the perfect dessert in a glass.
1. The base. This can be a pudding, a mousse or whatever other combination of spooned deliciousness that comes to mind. It is the element that you have the most of and provides the base for the rest of the dessert.
2. The sauce. Berry compotes, jams, curds, etc. Something fruity and acidic works nicely to cut the richness of the base which is probably cream-laden (yet addictive, don’t get me wrong).
3. The garnish. All we’re missing now is some crunch. You need to add a component that isn’t essentially liquid. Cakes, crumbles, cookies, nuts, even bruleeing the top – they all fit the bill.
The more I think about it, there is a 4th component to dessert in a glass that is satisfying and memorable. Well a 4th and a 5th depending what way you look at it. Creativity and an understanding of flavor pairings. As long as you know what goes good together – screw that, you don’t even have to “know” – as long as you think something goes good with something else, you are set! And once you start eating your dessert out of a glass, I’m telling you, there’s no going back.
cheesecake parfait
cheesecake parfait
Cheesecake Parfait
Cheesecake Mousse
1/2 lb. cream cheese (regular or light, just not fat free)
3 ounces white chocolate (that’s 3 squares of Baker’s chocolate), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. white sugar
Whip the cream to soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Then beat the cream cheese and white chocolate until light and fluffy. Fold in the whipped cream, portion into the vessels of your choice and refrigerate.
Citrus Curd
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. citrus juice (I used mostly lime with a hint of lemon)
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 egg
Combine everything but the egg in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Beat the egg in a separate, heat-proof bowl and gradually pour in the hot liquid, tempering the egg to ensure it does not scramble. Fill up your now empty saucepan with a couple of inches of water, making a double boiler. Return it to the heat, put your bowl on top and stir constantly over medium heat until everything thickens up (it should coat the back of a spoon, as if you were making custard). Once it has adequately thickened, you want to cool the curd as quickly as possible to stop the egg from over-cooking. Fill your sink with ice cold water and submerge the bowl in it. Stir to cool the mixture to room temperature. Then you can refrigerate it (it will thicken even more) until you are ready to use it.
Graham Cracker Cookie
1/2 cup graham crackers
1/4 cup oats
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil
Mix all of the ingredients until they form a wet “sand” of sorts. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and shape the cookies by pressing a tablespoon or two of the mixture into the ring mold size of your choice. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes of until golden and fragrant. Don’t worry if they seem super fragile, they will harden as they cool. These can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container or even on a plate covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to assemble the parfaits. Just keep them off to the side, they are also excellent for munching on!
The final assembly: Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the citrus curd over top of the mousse. Finish with the cookie for some crunch and these babies are ready for your consumption!
cheesecake parfait
cheesecake parfait

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