Strawberry Ricotta Parfait
Could someone please tell me why have I spent my entire life NOT making trifles? I think I had trifle once about a hundred years ago when I was 18 or 19. My own mother never made anything like it. She was more of a jello 1-2-3 kind of gal when she wasn't making pies, but I do have a fuzzy memory of eating it at a boyfriend's house. It must not have left much of an impression since I waited another hundred years to actually make one myself, although I do have very fond memories of jello 1-2-3.
I have a friend who makes all of these little desserts in jars whenever she hosts a party and there is almost always some sort of trifle along with something cheesecakey and something chocolately and this must be what sparked my interest. My Christmas Rum and Eggnog Tres Leches Trifle was everything I love about a dessert. It was delicious, although time consuming it was easy to make and, most important of all, it looked super impressive. I have made a few other trifles over the holidays and even the ones that I threw together totally on the fly using stuff I already had in the house were pretty amazing, to be honest. Trifles are new the black for 2014.
One of Shack's very favourite desserts is angel food cake with strawberries that have been left to macerate with sugar until soft and juicy. I don't even bother making angel food cake anymore because he actually prefers those little spongey cakes with the well baked in them that you get at the grocery store. For our NYE dessert I wanted to make him happy but I also wanted to step it up a notch and since I am all about the trifle right now, I turned his simple little dessert into a pretty parfait, adding some whipped ricotta for a little richness. The chambord adds a nice boost to the berries and you can totally replace the strawberries with raspberries too if that is your preference. All in all this is simple, easy to throw together at the last minute as long you have your components prepped in advance and still looks like you took a lot of time to make it when, in truth, I whipped up the ricotta, did the berries and cut up the cake the night before and just threw them together while everyone was relaxing after dinner.
At first, he balked because he would be happy to just have a little sponge cake on a plate with tons of whipped cream and berries slopped on but his face lit up after he took his first bite and I knew I had a winner. I kept all of the ingredients in the fridge and made both boys another the next day. I changed them up a the second time by adding a bit of crushed up gingerbread to one, some finely chopped up dark chocolate to another, and changed the dollop on top to whipped cream. The beauty of these little babies is that you can make it a bit different each time or customize each one to suit your picky recipients but here is the basic recipe.
As far as how many servings you will get out of this recipe, it is going to depend on the size of your serving vessels. I used rock glasses that you would typically drink scotch on the rocks out of (which is a very common occurrence during the winter around here , so sue me) and I got about 6 servings all in all. Obviously, if you use bigger glasses you are going get fewer servings. It's science.
Strawberry Ricotta Parfait
1 lb strawberries
3 tbls sugar
2 tbls chambord
1 cup ricotta
2 tbls honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 angel food cake
At least a few hours in advance and up to the day before, wash and slice the berries and put them in a bowl with the sugar and chambord, stir to combine, cover and put in the fridge to macerate (if you are doing it a few hours in advance, just leave it on the counter)
put the ricotta, honey and vanilla in a blender or food processor and whip it up until it's nice and creamy and set that aside.
Now, I just bought an angel food cake but you can make one if you like.
So, you choose a serving vessel. I served them in rock glasses but you could do little jars, parfait glasses, wine glasses or whatever you like. It's nicest in a clear glass of some sort so you can show off the pretty layers.
Slice your angel food cake into 1/2" slices and cube that up roughly. Put down a layer of cake and then cover that with the berries, making sure you also spoon some juice over them as well. Now, add a dollop of ricotta and smoosh that around but when you add the second layer of cake, it will help spread the ricotta out to the edges. Put your second layer of cake down, spoon more juicey berries over the top. Repeat this until you have got to the top of the glass with your top layer being the berries. Add one dollop of whipped ricotta (or you could use a bit of whipped cream for that too if you like) and serve.