Want to know how to stress me out? Invite me for dinner, ask me to bring a dessert and then say something like, "I like how you always put effort into your desserts and try new recipes!"
That's what my friend said to me when she invited me over for a Canada Day barbecue. Sure -- it's a compliment. But, it also clearly sets up an expectation that I need to maintain a reputation by making something impressive.
The other part of my (first world) stress was that I had gone strawberry and red currant picking the day before and was busy trying to preserve 20 litres of fresh fruit.
I have had the idea of making a layered dish in individual mason jars in mind lately. Since I already had jars out for preserving, I thought this would be a good opportunity. Plus, it's easily transportable, which works well when you're bringing dessert to a friend's.
Strawberry, Red Currant & Vanilla Cream Parfait
I started by making the vanilla cream and refrigerating it.
2 large eggs yolks
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 cup of whole milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Whisk yolks until smooth. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add milk in a slow, steady stream. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.
Pour 1/3 of milk mixture into yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and cook over
medium heat, stirring often, until thick, 2-4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
Pass vanilla cream through a fine sieve into a bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on surface.
Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.
The rest was really simple. I used some of the fruit I had picked in layers between vanilla cream, Nutriwhip and ladyfingers that had been soaked in milk.
Prior to layering the dessert, I debated between 250 ml and 500 ml jars. In the end, I went with the 500 ml. They are a generous size, but the whipped cream takes up so much space, 250 ml wouldn't go very far.
Verdict: Everybody liked the dessert. I think the kid inside of all of us likes the idea of having your very own jar of goodness. The red currants made for a nice punch of tartness. The only issue I had was that the layers were kind of all mushed together. It didn't matter taste-wise. But it didn't quite have the visual effect I was going for.