As a kid, I remember making weekly trips to my grandparents’ home in a nearby city. We lived about an hour away in a rural area. So rural that the nearest gas station was 15 minutes away, our home was a mile down a dirt road, and children my age were so few and far between that I grew up talking to myself and whatever characters I could concoct in my mind. That’s how I came by what the boy calls my “lovable crazy”. Even if it’s a little heavy on the crazy.
At the end of a day of visiting, we’d often stop by KFC on the way home and stock up on enough food for dinner and maybe a few meals after. It’s not a glorious memory, and I haven’t been to a KFC in over a decade, but it’s a memory with my parents. Alongside the bucket o’chicken and runny mashed potatoes topped with sodium sauce, we’d grab a few of the ready-made parfaits at the counter. I remember being remarkably smitten with the sweetness that inhabited these plastic containers. The strawberry filling was tart and flavorful, the crumbled cake sweet and vanilla-y, and the whipped cream was thick and fluffy. I loved these cups of sugary death, and it goes to prove one important thing: you can’t screw up a parfait.
Parfaits can mean a variety of different layered things. Maybe it’s granola with fruit and yogurt. Ice cream, fruit preserves, and whipped cream. Or what we have here: cake, fresh fruit, and whipped cream.
I love the ease, potential, and wow-effect that this dish provides. It’s simply a game of scavenging through your fridge for any undiscovered and talented ingredients, then quickly layering them together in a glass dish for a charming presentation.
Have you ever wondered what to do with the cut-off tops of a layer cake? Parfait them. Are baskets of fruit slowly succumbing to old age on your counter? Parfait them. Did you overzealously buy 3 cartons of heavy cream much to your husband’s horror and now need to use it quickly before the dreaded expiration date? Parfait it.
That’s the story of what we have here. I had some leftover bits of vanilla cake and heavy cream staring at me longingly from my kitchen. Next to them were ripe mangos and blackberries, together creating the oh-so-prettiest color scheme I ever did see. The process of putting it all together was ridiculously simple and dangerously gratifying.
It’s light, fresh, and the ideal sweet treat for these steamy summer days. You can prep it a few hours ahead of time and let it cool in the fridge until you’re ready to wow your guests (or just yourself while watching a Netflix marathon). To make this a Fourth of July treat, you could adultify it by spiking the whipped cream with a tablespoon or two of bourbon, or replacing the plain fresh fruit with some kind of spiked fruit (rum and strawberries, anyone?).
But if you’re serving children, I highly suggest you forego that idea and stick with the recipe below.
Mango Blackberry Parfait
- 2 cups cooked vanilla cake crumbled (I like using Martha Stewart's Versatile Vanilla Cake recipe)
- 1 1/2 cup fresh mango diced
- 1 1/2 cup fresh blackberries whole or halved
- 1 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the heavy cream on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. Slowly bring it back up to medium high speed until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag with a wide tip with the whipped cream (or a gallon ziploc with a corner snipped).
- Either in individual glass cups or a glass trifle dish, evenly layer first the whipped cream, then a generous layer of crumbled cake, then a mixture of fruit. Repeat until you reach the top, topping with fruit for a pretty presentation.