Last time, I covered a super simple spin on an American Parfait involving layers of ice cream and chocolate. This time I will be tackling an even simpler spin in the form of a cheesecake. For the cheesecake, I will be building a base that's not only simple but also versatile -- it can be used for other dessert ideas like a mousse or frosting.

When assembling in the glass, I'll start with a graham cracker crust-like layer, followed by the cheesecake base, sliced strawberries, and finish it off with whipped cream on top. And again, it'll all be made simple in this recipe.

The recipe

Cheesecake ingredients:

  • Two packs (eight ounce) cream cheese, softened
  • One tsp lemon zest
  • Four ounces castor sugar
  • 2 ounces of heavy cream
  • One tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 strawberries, halved
  • Eight ounces graham crackers
  • Eight ounces whipped cream, retail or homemade (check below)

Homemade Whipped Cream ingredients:

  • One cup heavy cream, cold
  • Two tbsp powdered sugar
  • Half tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Beat together the cream cheese and lemon zest in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer over a bowl until smooth. Add the heavy cream and vanilla extract and beat together until fully incorporated. Refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Wash the strawberries and dry them with a kitchen cloth. Cut each strawberry in half vertically.
  3. Grind the graham crackers in a food processor or blender.
  4. Layer the bottom of each parfait glass (a total of eight) with one ounce of the grounded graham crackers, then spoon or pipe two ounces of the cheesecake batter on top of the graham cracker layer per glass to form another layer. Follow up with a layer of cut fruit consisting of eight strawberry halves. Finally, pipe a swirl of whipped cream on top to complete the parfait. If whipped cream can't be obtained from the store, simply combine one cup of cold heavy cream, two tablespoons of powdered sugar, and half a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a chilled bowl with a hand mixer or whisk until it reaches the right consistency. Don't overwhip it.
  5. Serve or refrigerate.

Makes eight parfait.

Variations

  • Chocolate Cheesecake: Before step one, melt eight ounces of dark chocolate with the heavy cream in a microwave for 45 seconds and stir to combine. After beating the cream cheese and zest, beat in the melted chocolate followed by the vanilla extract.
  • Mascarpone Cheesecake: Substitute eight ounces of softened mascarpone cheese for the cream cheese.
  • Blueberry Cheesecake: Substitute blueberries for half or all of the strawberries.
  • Espresso Cheesecake: Add one fourth cup of brewed espresso to the beaten cream cheese before the heavy cream and vanilla during step one.

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