On a gorgeous summer evening, on the banks of Lake Geneva, we attended a very posh dinner with our friends, the Bradfords. The extraordinary meal was completed with a frozen parfait we all gushed and oohed and ahhed over. Even Gabe, who rarely touches any form of fruit, scraped the bottom of his glass.
So when our church party committee puzzled over a light, festive fruit dessert I knew exactly what we needed. My family loved my many experiments over the past few weeks, and after creating two hundred of these last Saturday, I’m something of an expert.
Let’s give it a name: Wildberry Meringue Parfait (let me know if you think of a better one).
After the party, I was asked over and over for the recipe. I tend to be extremely vague when giving recipes (in fact, I tend to be vague in general. My handwriting is lovely, but illegible. If you ask me directions somewhere, you’re likely to get lost.), so I’ve tried to be extremely precise. But really, all you do is crush some meringues, blend up some berries, top with whip cream and throw them in the freezer.
Trader Joe’s Meringues (approx. one per parfait)
Frozen berries- this time around I used Trader Joe’s Cherry Berry Blend, for the church party I used the Costco Three Berry Blend simply because it comes in 4 lb bags (surprisingly, the Costco berries weren’t any cheaper than TJ’s).
REAL Cream– fine, use one of the spray cans if you want, but don’t tell me about it.
1/2 cup sugar per pound of berries (I know it looks like more in the cup. That’s because I changed my mind after taking the photo. Told you I’m vague. Use more sugar if you want.)
First, crush the meringues, then pour them into cups. Or, if you’re making two hundred, assign Xander to crush hundreds of meringues and layer them in plastic cups (thank Xander).
Next, whisk the sugar with an equal amount of water in a saucepan. This is called a ‘simple syrup’ because it’s super simple. When the syrup becomes clear and starts to boil, you’re done. If this takes more than two minutes you’ve made it too difficult for yourself.
Pour the hot syrup over the full pound of berries you’ve already places in the blender. You can blend up to two pounds at once. The heat from the syrup makes the concoction much easier to blend than if it cooled and you’ll immediately have a soft sorbet. Also, you don’t need as much syrup this way. When I cooled the syrup, I found I needed twice as much to get the mixture to blend. During one experiment I put the blended mixture in an ice cream machine to make it a real sorbet– complete waste of time, it make no difference.
Pour the berry mixture over the crushed meringues, then place them in the freezer (told you this was easy). You can add the whipped cream now or later, it doesn’t matter much.
We use a large pastry bag. It’s so easy, even a baby ballerina can form impressive swirls. If you want to make the dessert a little more European, try mixing a soft cheese (like mascarpone) with the cream.
Winter or summer, on the shores of Lake Geneva or at your kitchen table, it’s pretty much the perfect indulgence.