Donkey was right

Everyone loves a parfait. It’s true. Especially for those of us old enough to have grown up listening to AM radio.

You can’t beat a parfait for its nostalgic kick. But nostalgia only goes so far, and for a mixture of great tastes and varied textures, parfaits cannot be beaten.

In addition, they are so easy to make that you can add a dose of fun to the end of a weeknight dinner.

For bonus points, they are fun to make. Your kids or grandkids will get a kick out of creating the layers, just like we – again  of a certain age –  used to get a kick out of making those multi-colored sand sculptures in brandy glasses.

With their no-bake preparation, parfaits make patio and porch entertaining easier and you don’t have to have fancy stemmed glassware. Serve them up in food-safe votive candle holders, juice or highball glasses. Got some pint-size canning jars? Fill ’em up.  If you don’t have time to make pretty layers, just slap the ingredients in something that’s not see-through – your china coffee cups will look great. But a parfait tastes just as good in a Dixie cup.  I plan on using my collection of pewter Jefferson cups next time (without using anything acidic, of course).

You could just create a giant mix in a bowl and let people serve themselves. But parfaits made just for each person feel more special, plus you can omit ingredients for picky eaters or add items for more adventurous diners.

The lead singer of the parfait is the pudding or custard. Now, you could make your own, but with all the pudding mixes out there, and sugar-free choices, why would you?  You’d kind of be missing the point about ease. And since you can use sugar-free pudding made with low-fat or skim milk, you can splurge on the other ingredients. Skip that frozen whipped topping and use real whipped cream – from a can.

Here is a totally incomplete list of things to keep on hand for whipping up parfaits any day of the week: pudding mixes, whipped cream, dark chocolate (use a vegetable peeler to create curls), good-quality blueberry, blackberry or strawberry preserves, graham crackers, chocolate or shortbread pie crusts (break them up for crumbs), Nutella, jars of ice-cream toppings, fresh mint.

Some excellent combinations:

pistachio pudding, strawberry preserves, crumbled shortbread crust, whipped cream, toasted sliced almonds

butterscotch pudding, maple syrup, crumbled shortbread crust, whipped cream, toasted pecans

chocolate pudding, raspberry preserves, shaved chocolate, crumbled lemon cookies, whipped cream

You can also try my friend Amy’s recipe for key-lime parfaits. She made these for a British friend who loves trifle and key lime pie.

No-Bake Key Lime Pie Parfaits

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1 stick butter, melted

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup of Key lime juice

Mix the crumbs and butter and place half the mixture in six parfait glasses. In a bowl mix the sweetened condensed milk with the Key lime juice and stir until it starts to thicken. Pour into parfait glasses. Top with the remaining crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.


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