15 October 2007

(Decidedly Not) Guilt-Free Parfait Cones

"You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, 'Let's get some parfait,' they say, 'Hell no, I don't like no parfait'? Parfaits are delicious." – Donkey (in Shrek)

I have to agree with Donkey on this one. Parfaits are delicious. Of course, not everybody likes them, but you've got to give him some credit. He's a donkey for starters, how many people could he have possibly put this query to? Granted he is a remarkably loquacious donkey with absolutely no concept of personal space, but he's still a donkey, none the less. He's also not entirely wrong: lots of people like parfaits. As far as guilt-free desserts go (despite the high sugar content and, in proportion, low nutritional value) parfaits are pretty well liked across the board. And hey, if you can buy it at McDonald's, doesn't that pretty much make it a staple of the American diet?

Besides being generally well-liked (and not-so-surprisingly easy to make), parfait will always be tied to one particular experience of mine that never fails to put a smile on my face.

On the night of my senior prom, eleven of my friends and I met at one of our houses to have dinner. Our parents had gotten together, designed a menu, dressed up as waiters, and served us the food. I don't remember the main course, I think because I was too busy trying to keep my lipstick from smearing and laughing at the spectacle we made in our lobster bibs and fancy dress. You try keeping a straight face with eleven other teenagers all dressed to the nines – sequins, silk, taffeta, bowties, glass beadwork, and cummerbunds – having to put on a crinkly plastic bib with a giant red lobster on it. Yeah.

Anyway, dessert came out, and I completely forget how hideously the red of the lobsters clashed with my maroon dress. (No snide comments about the wisdom of maroon – it was school colors and I was seventeen.) Perhaps the first shock was my mother sweeping in with her totally 1900's coat-and-tails men's jacket looking every inch the fancy French waiter. But the second, and surpassingly more delicious, was the parfait she was ferrying in.

Arranged in stemmed glassware, the layers of pinky-red strawberry, deep red raspberry, calm blue-violet blueberry, and white cream looked delicate and rich. The smell was an amazing promise – pure sugary, syrupy heaven. The first spoonful floated around the mouth, light and airy yet focused in staccato bursts of tart blueberry. I've never been fond of over-large, sickeningly sweet berries. The littler, sharply sweet ones have always been my favorites. I've never had a parfait that compared. (Sorry McDonald's.)

Since I knew I'd never be able to make perfect parfait, or afford the stemware, I decided to go with an untraditional approach when creating my own. I figured that since Mickey D's has hit on a good thing with the granola, I'd throw dieting to the wind and put in something crunchy but decidedly not guilt-free: waffle cones. McDonald's has their bubble-topped cups, prom night its stemware, and I have my waffle cones. If you're going for dessert, you might as well indulge yourself, I always say.

As an added bonus, all ingredients come from our old buddy, Monsieur Dining Hall. (On a good day. Try this one time when they stock vanilla pudding instead of chocolate. Heck, just try it with the chocolate; it'll probably be even better.)

A note: Photos courtesy of Emma, who has a lovely camera and a lovely eye for detail. Plus, you know, my third arm hasn't grown in yet, so I did kind of need her for this. Thanks Emma!

(Decidedly Not) Guilt-Free Parfait Cones

Things you can pilfer from the dining hall:

1 cup vanilla pudding

1 teaspoon (or two packets) sugar

½ cup strawberries

½ cup mandarin oranges

6 sugar or waffle cones

½ cup blueberries (when available)

  1. Slice the strawberries into thin slivers, discarding the stem and inner white core.
  2. Mix everything – except the waffle cones, of course – together in a large bowl, reserving a few strawberries and oranges for decorating the top.
  3. Fill the cones with your parfait mixture and top with one or two of your reserved fruit slices.

    Tip: To fill the tip of the cone, use some of your mixture without any fruit in it. Otherwise, you'll have an empty last few bites of just cone, as the fruit slices won't be small enough to fit down there.



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Anonymous said...

Yum! I added a little jello (not mixed in with the pudding but made separately, set, and chopped up). I like the cone as vehicle.