Dessert/ Entertaining/ Vegetarian

Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream

April 29, 2020 (Last Updated: June 11, 2020) by Chef Molly

Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream features layers of chopped ripe strawberries, lightly sweetened mascarpone cream, and gingery biscoff cookies. Lovely, light, and guaranteed to make you happy.

strawberry parfait with mascarpone cream in short glass with two other parfaits in the background

Strawberry season! Is there anything cheerier than walking by the outdoor fruit and vegetable vendors and seeing baskets of red juicy strawberries stacked in rows? That’s certainly on my “what makes me happy” list. In my opinion, strawberries are second only to tomatoes in the difference between a perfectly ripe, just-picked variety versus the off-season grocery store offerings. So when strawberries arrive in the market, it’s time to enjoy. Besides eating them straight out of hand, I have a list of favorite strawberry recipes I pull out each spring. One of my favorites is this Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream.

Parfaits are so easy to make—there’s not much measuring involved. Just prep a few ingredients and then layer them in whatever pretty clear glasses you have lying around. Since you’re only using 3 main ingredients, it’s important to choose high-quality versions—that’s why those perfectly ripe strawberries are essential. But don’t worry, this recipe is very adaptable to ingredient substitutions depending on what’s in season or what you have on-hand. Read on for more. 

ingredients for strawberry parfait: sugar, mascarpone, strawberries, biscoff cookies, and cream

How do you make Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream?

First, rinse, trim, and finely chop 8 ounces of fresh strawberries.

finely chopped strawberries on cutting board

Put 5 ounces of biscoff cookies into a ziplock bag, then crush with the back of a measuring cup or a wooden spoon or meat mallet, until you have small chunks and crumbs. (Up to you how fine you want the crumbs to be.)

crushing biscoff cookies in ziplock bag with cup measure

Whip 8.8 ounces of mascarpone cheese until smooth with mixer, about 1 minute.

whipped mascarpone cheese in large bowl

Add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, and whip for another 2 minutes until light and creamy.

whipped mascarpone cheese with heavy cream and sugar in large bowl

Assemble parfaits by layering first a couple of spoonfuls of biscoff crumbs, followed by a couple of spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture, followed by a sprinkling of  strawberry pieces.

glass with biscoff crumbs and mascarpone cream next to small bowl of strawberries

You really don’t need to measure out exactly, just roughly eyeball the amount of the ingredients you have and make sure you have enough for 2 layers in each serving dish or glass. Repeat with the second layer, ending with strawberries. Serve immediately.

glass with layers of biscoff cookies, mascarpone cream and strawberries

How do you choose the best strawberries?

This recipe really shines with in-season, sweet strawberries. The strawberries that you find year-round in the grocery store are often artificially ripened, and sometimes more sour than sweet. If you do have strawberries that are not perfectly sweet, toss them with a tablespoon of sugar after you have chopped them up. Let them sit for 15 minutes, absorbing the sugar, then drain before using. They will be a little more syrupy than plain chopped strawberries, but will still be delicious in a parfait.

Also, please buy organic strawberries whenever you can. Strawberries regularly rank #1 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. This is the list that ranks fruits and vegetables based on pesticide contamination. And EWG tests produce samples AFTER they have been washed and peeled (if necessary), so unfortunately washing your strawberries before eating will not eliminate pesticides. 

two boxes of fresh strawberries

Ingredient Swaps

  • Strawberries: Feel free to replace strawberries with whatever fruit you have that is in season. Mascarpone cream plus any berries is a fantastic combination. Make Blueberry Parfaits or Blackberry Parfaits or even Peach or Apricot Parfaits. For another take on the parfait idea using mangos, check out my Mango Coconut Yogurt Parfait recipe. 
  • Biscoff cookies: I love these cookies, but they can be easier to find in Europe than in the United States. In the U.S., look for them either near the cookie section or the graham cracker section in the grocery store. But substitutions abound. You can try using any of the following to break up your parfait layers: graham crackers, granola, pound cake or angel food cake, biscotti, vanilla wafers, Oreos, chopped brownie bites, or even chopped oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies
  • Mascarpone: If you don’t have access to mascarpone cheese, you can substitute regular cream cheese. If you do that, I would add a bit more heavy cream to the mixture and another tablespoon of sugar as well. You can also substitute yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt. Or substitute vanilla ice cream or vanilla pudding!
  • Heavy cream: If you don’t have heavy cream, you can leave it out and just use more mascarpone. Make sure to whip the mascarpone quite well in that case, and perhaps add a bit more sugar, so that it is not super dense in your parfaits. 
  • Granulated Sugar: Feel free to substitute another kind of sugar if you’d like. Powdered sugar would work very well. Light brown sugar would also be ok, though it might turn your mascarpone cream a little bit off-white. You could also try sugar substitutes like agave syrup or coconut sugar. Or use a touch of honey instead. 

What is a parfait?

The word parfait actually has a couple of different meanings. One version of a parfait is a layered dessert like this one, usually including layers of cream or yogurt or ice cream interspersed with fruit. The other type of parfait is a traditional French frozen dessert made from cream, eggs, sugar, and sometimes fruit. This advantage of this French dessert is that you can make it without an ice cream maker, because the combination of ingredients prevent the forming of ice crystals. It’s generally made in a loaf pan and then sliced to serve.

Can you make Strawberry Parfaits in advance?

Sadly, no, this is not a great make-ahead recipe. You really want to taste the difference in the textures between the creamy mascarpone and the crunchy biscoff cookies. Refrigerating the parfaits will result in the cookies becoming a bit soggy, and the strawberries will begin to break down as well.

That said, these are so easy to assemble that you can pull them together in minutes when it’s time to serve. You can make the mascarpone cream in advance and keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to assemble. You can also crush the biscoff cookies and keep them in a ziplock bag or airtight container at room temperature. Chopping the strawberries ahead of time is not advised, since they will sit and macerate a bit in their own juices. If you do chop them in advance and store them in the refrigerator, you may be want drain them before you assemble your parfaits if they are sitting in liquid. 

glass of strawberry parfait with mascarpone cream with two glasses and kitchen towel in background

Can you make parfaits with frozen strawberries?

I wouldn’t necessarily advise this, but it could be done. They just won’t have the same texture as fresh chopped strawberries, and they won’t look as pretty. But I’m sure they would taste just fine! Sometimes frozen strawberries are actually sweeter than off-season strawberries, as they’ve been picked at their freshness peak. 

Can you freeze parfaits?

No, this dessert is unfortunately not freezer-friendly. 

Is a Strawberry Parfait healthy?

That really depends on the ingredients you use for your parfait. This one does include a good amount of cheese and cream, so it’s not low-calorie, but it is pretty low in sugar. And, you can absolutely make a much healthier version of this strawberry parfait by replacing the mascarpone cream with Greek yogurt and replacing the biscoff cookies with granola. In fact, if you do that, you’ll have an excellent breakfast parfait. 

What is mascarpone cheese?

Mascarpone cheese is an Italian cream cheese that is a bit more delicate, mild, and softer than American-style cream cheese. In some recipes, you can swap mascarpone cheese for cream cheese and vice versa. Just keep in mind that regular cream cheese has a thicker texture and sharper flavor, so you might need to adjust your recipe to take that into account. 

What other desserts can you make with mascarpone cream?

Mascarpone cream is delicious in so many types of desserts. Here are a few ideas to get you started. 

  • Frost or fill cakes or cupcakes with it. For a lighter, fluffier version, whip the cream separately into stiff peaks, then gently mix in mascarpone whipped in a separate bowl (or if not pre-whipped, at least softened a bit by leaving out on the counter for 15-20 minutes before using). You can also whip in powdered sugar to thicken and stabilize the frosting. 
  • Use as a filling for a fresh fruit tart—to do that, just use a prebaked tart shell (graham cracker, puff pastry, or a regular pie shell) or pre-bake your own pie dough recipe. Then add a layer of mascarpone cream, and let it chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Top with fresh fruit to serve. 
  • Mascarpone cream is delicious in the layers of a strawberry shortcake or on a pavlova. 
  • Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert combining mascarpone cream with espresso-dipped lady fingers
  • Mascarpone makes a delicious cheesecake filling 
  • Use as a filling for cream puffs
  • Fill sweet crepes with mascarpone cream—spread on one side of a crepe, add fresh fruit, and fold over. Top with another sprinkling of fresh fruit and serve!
  • Use it as a dip next to a bowl of fresh fruit or berries
three glasses of strawberry parfait shot from the top down

When is strawberry season?

In the United States, strawberry season is usually late spring or early summer. In France, strawberries begin to appear in the markets with the much beloved Gariguettes in late April, and strawberry season can last until midway through the fall. 

What else can you make with fresh strawberries?

There’s nothing better than ripe, sweet strawberries on their own in my opinion, but there are many other uses as well. 

  • Use them in fresh fruit tarts
  • Make strawberry shortcake or strawberry cobbler
  • Bake a strawberry cheesecake
  • Use strawberries in cocktails and sangrias like my White Wine Sangria with Strawberries
  • Freeze extra strawberries (rinse and trim them first, then pat carefully dry before storing in a freezer bag), then use them in a smoothie like this Strawberry Blueberry Banana Smoothie or a strawberry milkshake. 
  • Blend fresh strawberries with yogurt and then freeze in popsicle molds. 
  • And of course, should you find yourself at the end of strawberry season with a pallet of very ripe strawberries, make jam

More delicious healthy(ish) desserts

Need any more dessert inspiration? I love making desserts that are tasty but don’t make you feel horrible after eating them. If you are the same, you may want to check out some of my favorites:

strawberry parfait with mascarpone cream in a glass with a spoon next to kitchen towel and in front of two other parfaits

Strawberry Parfait with Mascarpone Cream

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Strawberry Parfaits with Mascarpone Cream feature layers of chopped ripe strawberries, lightly sweetened mascarpone cream, and gingery biscoff cookies. A lovely light dessert!

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fresh strawberries
  • 5 oz biscoff cookies
  • 8.8 oz (250 g) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. granulated sugar

Instructions

    1. Rinse, trim, and finely chop strawberries.
    2. Put biscoff cookies into a ziplock bag, then crush with the back of a measuring cup or a wooden spoon or meat mallet, until you have small chunks and crumbs. (Up to you how fine you want the crumbs to be.)
    3. Whip mascarpone until smooth with mixer, about 1 minute.
    4. Add heavy cream and sugar, and whip for another 2 minutes until light and creamy.
    5. Assemble parfaits by layering first a couple of spoonfuls of biscoff crumbs, followed by a couple of spoonfuls of the mascarpone mixture, followed by a sprinkling of strawberry pieces. You really don’t need to measure out exactly, just roughly eyeball the amount of the ingredients you have and make sure you have enough for 2 layers in each serving dish or glass.
    6. Repeat with the second layer, ending with strawberries.
    7. Serve immediately.

Notes

Use a clear glass or clear plastic dish to serve so that you can see all the layers. Smaller glasses are better than bigger since the mascarpone cream is quite rich, and a more narrow glass will make it easier to see the beautiful layers.

Ingredient Substitutions:

  • Strawberries: Feel free to replace strawberries with whatever fruit you have that is in season. Mascarpone cream plus any berries is a fantastic combination. Make Blueberry Parfaits or Blackberry Parfaits or even Peach or Apricot Parfaits.
  • Biscoff cookies: I love these cookies, but they can be easier to find in Europe than in the United States. In the U.S., look for them either near the cookie section or the graham cracker section. But substitutions abound. You can try using any of the following to break up your parfait layers: graham crackers, granola, pound cake or angel food cake, biscotti, vanilla wafers, Oreos, chopped brownie bites, or even chopped oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies
  • Mascarpone: If you don’t have access to mascarpone cheese, you can substitute regular cream cheese. If you do that, I would add a bit more heavy cream to the mixture and another tablespoon of sugar as well. You can also substitute yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt. Or substitute vanilla ice cream or vanilla pudding!
  • Heavy cream: If you don’t have heavy cream, you can leave it out and just use more mascarpone. Make sure to whip the mascarpone quite well in that case, and perhaps add a bit more sugar, so that it is not super dense in your parfaits.
  • Sugar: Feel free to substitute a sugar replacement if you’d like. Powdered sugar would work very well. Light brown sugar should also be ok, though it might turn your mascarpone cream a little bit off-white. You could also try sugar substitutes like agave syrup or coconut sugar. Or use a touch of honey instead.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 564Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 525mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 19gProtein: 17g

Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.

Share and Enjoy !

0Shares
0 0 0

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply