My first memory of July 4th, about 15 years ago, does not include a Mango and Cherry Summer Parfait. I was 18 and living in Rialto California at that time. The big outdoor mall in Rancho Cucamonga had just opened. Somehow, I manifested a job at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice-cream shop. I manifested it because I remember driving past that mall and wishing I could work there.
Mango and Cherry Summer Parfait
So on this 4th of July, I remember sitting at the dining table just off the kitchen and eating half of a huge watermelon. This was the extent of the celebration my stepmom and I had for July 4th that year. Every year since then has been a blur. Partly because I have spent a lot of the years either living outside the United States or working in service jobs.
When you work in service jobs, your sense of holidays start to get warped. During my retail years, the only day the stores closed was on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Every other day was a working day. Yes, the management team would try to cheer us up by providing snacks. But work is still working. Now that I am out of the service industry, I am trying to create a sense of joy and celebration around holidays. Being an immigrant, one of the best things is creating my own traditions that meld my Nigerian and American side together.
July 4th isn’t any different.
I will likely be making some Jollof rice with goat meat or grilled beef suya. My American side will be eating this delicious mess of whipped cream, fruit curd, cake, and fresh fruit called Mango and Cherry summer parfait. Why did I choose the summer parfait as the dessert for the 4th of July celebration? I chose it because it is easy to make. There are a thousand and one variations of the summer parfait easily. Plus, it can be made ahead. Making it ahead actually allows the different layers to blend together and create a delicious sensation in the mouth. So, in my books, summer parfait with cake, whipped cream, fruit curd, and fresh fruits are a total win.
Also, the combination of cake, whipped cream, fruit curd, and fresh fruit is messy naturally. This takes the stress out of trying to make everything look pretty. In this Mango and Cherry Summer Parfait, the haphazard interactions of the reds, whites, and yellow in the bowl actually add the whimsy of the dish. There are a thousand and one variations of the summer parfait. You don’t really have to hunt for ingredients. It is okay to get creative and take some pressure off.
I made the Mango and Cherry summer parfait because I had a simple layer cake from recipe testing.
My vision required two layers but only one cake layer survived recipe testing. I was tired of eating plain cake so I made a parfait. The mango strawberry curd in this parfait is also a result of recipe testing. I had cherries on hand because it is in season. When fruits are in season, I try to have them on in the fridge to soothe my sweet tooth. I also used heavy cream. Heavy cream is a staple in my fridge. I reach for it to make so many quick and delicious recipes. Now that I have explained my choices, let me walk you through a few of your choices.
If you don’t have the things I have on hand, you can still create a parfait of your own. Perhaps, you have granola on hand. You might even croissants or rich brioche on hand. You might have frozen fruits. Maybe some jam and yogurt that has been in your fridge for a while. Guess what, you can make a parfait. It just takes understanding how each element should work in this dish to raid your pantry.
Also, I love this Mango and Cherry summer parfait because I can control the amount of sugar in the recipe.
The cake and the mango strawberry curd I used in this dish are really sweet. I countered that with the fruits and the whipped cream. If you are making a parfait with frozen fruits, I would recommend letting the fruit pieces defrost before layering it. I don’t like my cake or baked layer to be soggy. Defrosting the fruit ensures that I can control the amount of fluid in my parfait. There are people who like the cake or pastry to absorb as much fluid as possible. If that is you, there are a few options for making your fruit juicy. If you are using frozen fruits, they will naturally release fluid as they defrost. You can sweeten the released fluid and pour it over the parfait.
For fresh fruits, you have the option of macerating the fruits a bit before layering the parfait. Sprinkling sugar over the cut fruits and letting it sit for a while releases juices. If you are not getting enough juice from your fruits, you can use some syrup or liqueur to add even more flavor. If you use canned fruits, the canning syrup is a wonderful opportunity to add more sweetness and depth to the parfait.
When I was making this Mango and Cherry summer parfait, I considered adding toasted almonds in the dish or topping off the final whipped cream layer. Ultimately, I just wanted something simpler so I left it off. The point of bringing this up is that as you design your own summer parfait. Think of the textures and flavors that you want to explore. Nuts will generally add some crunch to this dish. This can feel so satisfying will all the creaminess and softness layered into a summer parfait already.
Mango and Cherry Summer Parfait
- 8 oz Pound Cake cubed
- 1 cup Chopped Cherry Pieces
- 2 Cups Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Mango Strawberry Curd
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tbsp Sugar
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar all over the cherries pieces and stir.
- Add vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of sugar to heavy cream. Whip cream until stiff
- In a bowl, arrange the first layer using half of the pound cake. Sprinkle over half of the cherry pieces. Aim for even distribution. Drop dollops of curd evenly around the bowl, again using only half of the mango strawberry curd. Spread about a 1/3 of the whipped cream evenly over the mixture
- Start the second layer in the same sequence. Cake, then cherry pieces followed by dollops of mango strawberry curd. Finish off by spreading the remaining whipped cream over the mixture and creating a smooth surface.
- Cover the bowl with a domed cover or with domed foil. Place in refrigerator, not a freezer, for at least a couple of hours. The summer parfait is best when allowed to chill overnight.
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