Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Ninety-Four: A Passion for Desserts

by Emily Luchetti

What do you think of when you hear parfait? Me, I envision a layered dessert (trifle like) in tall clear glasses, not a loaf shape that is sliced and placed on a plate with nothing other than a sauce drizzled over the top. 

This past Tuesday was my sister's birthday and originally I was going to make a fruitcake, yes fruitcake. We loved my grandmother's fruitcake that she made every Christmas (wish I had her recipe) and we had just been talking about it and decided that is what we would have - until the day before as I was making my grocery list and reading the recipe I found online - best if made at least two weeks ahead! Well that wasn't going to work. 

A frantic search for a new dessert led me to this delicious treat. This is why I love Emily Luchetti's recipes - always easy, elegant, and with wonderful flavor. The parfait is lemony, smooth, pillowy soft and light, and the sauces oh so tasty. I had added my own touch to this dessert - chopped crystallized ginger and fresh raspberries. The ginger was a bit overpowering - next time I would decorate the top with additional raspberries and no ginger. (EDIT: Eating the leftovers a whole week later, this was still delicious - sauces and all. Even the chopped candied ginger tasted really good this time around.)

This dessert is perfect for a beautiful spring day, unlike our first day of spring her in California where it is raining. This being so light and refreshing, we can imagine it's not.

Success meter (1-3): 3

It's important for you to get the plastic wrap as smooth as possible before filling the loaf pan. The creases will show up in the final product. This was my second time lining the pan. The first was almost perfect, then I noticed a tear in the bottom and had to start over and did not have the patience to get it as smooth as I would have liked.

I can always say I was going for the draped look.

These sauces were so good. I can see using them drizzled over vanilla ice cream, pancakes, crêpes or even on toast.

Happy Birthday Laura!

Frozen Lemon Parfait
With Lemon Ginger & Cassis Sauces
Serves 8

Frozen Lemon Parfait

6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Grated peel from 1 medium lemon
1 ¾ cups heavy whipping cream

Lemon Ginger Sauce

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
½ ounce unpeeled gingerroot, cut into several pieces
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Grated peel from 1 medium lemon

Cassis Sauce

½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons cassis liqueur

Grease the inside of a 6-cup loaf pan (about 5 ½ x 9 ½ inches). Line the pan with plastic wrap, making sure to press it into the corners of the pan.

To make the parfait: Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a stainless-steel bowl until combined. Set the bowl over a saucepan of just-boiling water. (The bowl should sit over the water without touching it.) Whisk vigorously until thick. Place the bowl over an ice bath (another bowl filled with ice water). Whisk occasionally until cold (being careful not to let any water get into the parfait mixture). Whisk in the lemon peel. In a medium bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the lemon mixture. Spread the parfait into the prepared loaf pan. Freeze until frozen, at least 4 hours.

To make the lemon ginger sauce: Combine the lemon juice, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Put the cornstarch in a small bowl. Remove ¼ cup of the liquid, whisk it into the cornstarch, and then whisk the cornstarch liquid back into the pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens slightly. Strain and stir in the lemon peel. Refrigerate until cold.

To make the cassis sauce: In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in the cassis liqueur. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate until cold.

To serve: Place a cutting board or plate on top of the parfait pan. Invert the pan and cutting board together. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the plastic wrap. Slice the parfait 1 inch thick. Cut each slice in half diagonally. Place 2 pieces of parfait on each plate and spoon some of each sauce around them.

Planning ahead: The parfait and the sauces can be made several days in advance and kept refrigerated. Let the sauces come to room temperature before serving.

A Passion for Desserts/Emily Luchetti


  1. I thought about a draped cloth too! It looks so great, and those raspberries, I love them! For me parfait is like this one, only I´ve had it in individual portions, something very common in buffet dessert tables for weddings and parties, because they can be made in advance and hold up so well.

  2. That is such a gorgeous dessert!

  3. That's so beautiful! I am trying so hard to use the books I have. You inspire me!

  4. What a lovely dessert for a birthday!!!!
    Wonderful, I love the combinations of the flavors!!!
    Perfect parfait!!!!


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