There are some days where a dessert just grabs you at first glance and doesn’t let you go. We hosted family this past weekend and between furiously cleaning every speck of dust and tidying chair cushions, I fretted over what to bake. Spring had finally blossomed (for the day, anyway) and I wanted something special to serve up. It also gave me the chance to cook a dessert that I normally don’t do for just the two of us.
And that leads me to something else. Why is it, that out of all of the most enjoyable things in the world, dessert is normally not for two? Or three, for that matter. Look at most cake, brownie, and cookie recipes and you’d be hard-pressed to find one that served up just the right amount for two servings. I’ve stumbled across some recipes that cater to the “two” crowd, but they are usually of the non-inspiring variety – some type of fruit concoction or a mini- somethingorother.
So, given the opportunity, I searched multiple blogs for ideas. I found dozens of delicious creations that I waffled between and bookmarked for later. It was truly a struggle to decide what to make since everything not only looked gorgeous but yummy.
Then I saw them.
The pretty red berries, the pillows of cream and cream cheese and the crumbly graham base.
Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits
And that’s all I really need to say. In fact, if you are anything like me, those words would have won you over right there and then.
Nevermind that they came from The Italian Dish (that in itself also a clue to their greatness).
Just try not to crave these delectable treasures.
I dare ya.
The recipe calls for graham crackers for the “crust”. This bothered me for days. I don’t mind store bought crackers, but they always seem a bit bland. The flavor is mundane and it doesn’t sparkle. These parfaits deserved sparkle so I fretted about what to do to jazz up the crust.
Do I add other ingredients? Like Spice? Lemon juice? Something to the butter?
Then it dawned on me – I had just the thing! A while back, Smitten Kitchen had posted a recipe for homemade Graham Crackers. They looked and sounded delicious and I rifled through my vast pit of links for the right one.
They were perfect. I can’t tell you what a difference they made to the parfaits. I can’t imagine what these would have tasted like otherwise (still good, I’m sure, but not THIS good). Yes, the crackers took a little bit of effort to make, but it was completely worth it. In fact, I think I’ll make them again when a recipe requires a good tasting graham. Honestly, you have to try them!
Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits with Homemade Graham Crackers
(Notes: You can find the original parfait recipe here.
- I made alterations to the recipe, which are in red below.
- I doubled the original recipe to make 8 parfaits for regular sized cups. The recipe is easily scaled to whatever quantity you need.
- I also made the graham crackers two days ahead and the cheesecake mixture the night before. This made assembling really easy the following morning. Truth be told, I think they’d be just fine being made the night before.
- You can find the graham cracker recipe here. I followed it exactly, except I cut the recipe in half.)
2 pound of strawberries, hulled and chopped
4 tablespoons sugar, divided (I used Splenda)
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (use store bought or Smitten Kitchen’s homemade recipe found here)
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 packages of 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup greek yogurt
1 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cup heavy cream
mint for garnish
- Make your grahams and then crush them in your food processor. Add melted butter and stir to mix. Set aside.
- To make your cheesecake mixture, beat cream cheese on medium until smooth. Add yogurt, confectioner’s sugar and almond extract. Beat until smooth and mixed.
- In a separate large bowl, whip your heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form (I slightly overwhipped since I don’t fold correctly and I wanted to make sure the cream didn’t puddle on me). Fold into cream cheese mixture and set aside.
- Cut and hull strawberries, mixing them with two packets of splenda until desired sweetness. Set aside.
- Assemble parfaits by beginning with a crumb layer, then cheesecake until topping with strawberries. Repeat until cups are full.
- Top with mint leaves nicked from someone’s garden (or your own, if you grow them, which I don’t, but I do have a mother who does – lucky me!).