Saturday, June 18, 2011

Berry Chocolatey Summertime Parfaits

Yes, we do actually eat desserts in this house, though it may come as no surprise that I do try to make them somewhat healthful (we won't talk about my famous double chocolate cupcakes). This recipe is nice and light, a perfect summertime dessert. It serves four as I have written it. I figure one cup of berries per person, and one pint of whipped cream per four to six people. Any more than that, and I double the amount of whipped cream.

Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (especially the latter two) are some of the produce items I buy almost only when they are on sale, which luckily seems to be often lately. I do have two giant pots of strawberry plants in my backyard, but they are new and so far they have yielded five strawberries. The kids bring me fresh-picked berries when they come home from my in-laws' cabin, but that will not be for at least another month or two. Today I hit the berry jackpot though, as fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries were all on sale for really great prices. I have mentioned that I buy organic dairy products whenever possible, and since I got such a great deal on everything else, I did not mind paying more for the organic whipping cream.

All that said, this is another recipe you can adjust to fit your tastes and your budget. If you don't care for a certain berry or don't want to pay the outrageous prices they are often marked with, use more of another variety. Replacing some of the berries with sliced bananas is also a money-saver. If you don't care for the chocolate flavor in your whipping cream, omit the cocoa powder. You can use granulated sugar instead of a stevia-derived sweetener. Skip the almonds on top or use graham crackers, granola, chocolate or vanilla wafers, grated chocolate, etc. You can certainly use a non-organic whipping cream, or you can use the dairy or non-dairy already-prepared options that are out there.

Blueberries provide fiber and Vitamin C, raspberries have even more fiber and Vitamin C than blueberries, and strawberries have less fiber than both but more vitamin C--just one cup of strawberry halves gives you 149% of the standard daily recommendation for Vitamin C. All three contain antioxidants, and that brings us to a subject that surpasses my limited knowledge, though I do know that Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Let's just say that all three are good for you!

Berry Chocolatey Summertime Parfaits

4 cups berries
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 packet of stevia sweetener (or equivalent 2 tsp granulated sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Step 1: Make sure your cream is nice and chilled, pour it into a bowl that is not too small but not so large that the cream is too spread out--you need to be able to whip air into it well. Chilling your bowl and whisk/attachment can help the process as well. Whip on medium speed (or by hand). When cream has thickened slightly and has just started to get foamy, add the vanilla, sweetener and cocoa powder and continue to whip. Most directions for whipping cream will tell you to stop when it forms soft peaks--when you pull the whisk out, the dollop of cream on it should bend over at the top. I personally like to take it a little further, but you have to reduce the speed and watch it closely, as you can have yourself a bowl of butter very quickly.

Step 2: Spoon 1/2 cup berries in the bottom of each serving glass/dish. Top with a layer of whipped cream, another 1/2 cup of berries, another layer of whipped cream and then garnish each with 1 Tablespoon of slivered almonds.

Warning: I like to keep the whipped cream VERY lightly sweetened and let the deep chocolatey taste bring out the sweetness in the berries. If your berries aren't sweet enough, or you prefer it sweeter, you may want to adjust the sweetener/sugar, starting by doubling it and adjusting from there.


Strawberries: $1.50/lb pkg, used 1/2 = $.75
Blueberries: $2.50/pint pkg, used 1/2 = $1.25
Red Raspberries: $1.99/6 oz pkg, used 1/2 = $1.00
Heavy Whipping cream, pint (organic): $1.89
Almonds: $1.49/pkg, used 1/2 = $.75

Total Cost: $5.64
Four Servings: $1.41 per serving

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