Confession #129: I’ve become a layerer…Lightened-Up Strawberries and Cream Parfaits
Layerer… is that even a word? Based on the red dots lined up underneath it as I type, spell check is telling me it’s not…. Maybe it should be layer-er? Who knows. What I DO know is that layering food is fun, and suddenly I’m doing more of it.
If you remember, there was last week’s Mississippi Mud Pie – four layers of oreo-red velvet-cream cheese awesomeness. This week we’re lightening things up a bit with Strawberries and Cream Parfaits (made with greek yogurt and less cream!). They’re what I call a breakfast/light dessert, depending on which way you want to take it. Either way, they’re fruity, creamy, and summer-perfect.
Layer number one of today’s recipe is crushed graham crackers, nothing more, nothing less. Think graham cracker pie crust, but lighter and easier, because you don’t need butter holding it all together. Layer two is the “cream”: Greek yogurt plus a little cream cheese and a smidge of heavy cream, infused with vanilla extract and vanilla bean. It’s just lightly sweet and per-fect for these parfaits. Then we have layer three, the fresh strawberries, macerated with just a bit of sugar. I have a talent for making things complicated, but today, for once, things are simple and easy. It’s nice. :D
I couldn’t quite decided if these parfaits reminded me more of strawberries and cream, or a light cheesecake (thank you, graham cracker crumbs), or a strawberry tart filled with pastry creme. I just decided that they were parfait (which means perfect in French, in case you didn’t get that). ;) Anndd… I’m officially done with the silly French puns. Thanks for putting up with me, guys.
These light, creamy parfaits layered with fresh strawberries are perfect for a summertime breakfast or dessert. They're like a cross between cheesecake and strawberry tart, in parfait form!
5 ounces (1 cup) chopped strawberries
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
5 ounces (5/8 cup) nonfat greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
2 ounces cream cheese*
1 tablespoon heavy cream**
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Graham Cracker Layer:
1 1/8 ounces (5 tablespoons) graham cracker crumbs
2 whole strawberries
graham cracker crumbs
Place the strawberries in a small bowl and sprinkle on the sugar. Toss gently together. Let sit for about 30 minutes to macerate so that the juices are drawn out from the strawberries. Meanwhile, prepare cream and graham cracker layers.
Combine the yogurt, cream cheese, heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt in a bowl and beat together with a whisk until smooth.
Graham Cracker Layer:
Divide graham cracker crumbs between two serving glasses of choice, shaking the glasses lightly to level out the crumbs on the bottoms.
Assembly and Garnish:
Strain juices from strawberries and reserve for other use.*** Place a layer of yogurt over graham cracker crumbs in each glass, followed by a layer of strawberries, then yogurt, strawberries,and finally one more layer of yogurt. Divide as evenly as possible to keep layers consistent. Top each parfait with graham cracker crumbs and a fresh strawberry. Serve immediately.
*You can use reduced-fat cream cheese to make this even lighter and healthier, although I've never used it, so I can't promise that it will taste quite the same.
**You can also sub the heavy cream for regular whipping cream. Half-and-half should work, too.
***Don't throw away the strawberry juices!! Add it to sparkling water, use them in a smoothie, or mix them with some plain yogurt; just don't throw it away!