When it's too hot to cook — and, frankly, even when it's not — a parfait is just what the doctor ordered. This simple, layered dessert at once evokes childhood nostalgia (for me, it's Dairy Queen) and a kind of adult elegance that says, "See? I have made some effort."
I hadn't much thought about parfaits until I binged my way through every episode of "Zoë Bakes," the feel-good Magnolia Network baking program hosted by author and recipe developer Zoë Francois. As the star of the show confidently baked, battered and blowtorched her way through an array of festive sweets, I found myself mentally bookmarking her creations — and remixing them in my mind.
In one early episode, Francois makes a strawberry fool with zesty lemon curd. In another, she whips up a peanut butter "beehive" cake that evokes the sweet sandwiches her dad made for her as a child. By mashing up the two desserts, I aimed to create an easy-tiered treat reminiscent of the lunchboxes of my own childhood. And with strawberries at their peak right now, it would be absolutely criminal not to forgo grape jelly for the beloved summer fruit.
If you're feeling ambitious or perhaps chasing a little more of a project, reach for fresh whipped cream and homemade peanut butter cookies. However, you can also throw this together with the unmistakably evocative flavors of store-bought cookies and whipped topping. Whichever journey you choose, the end result is a breezy summer dessert that is crunchy, soft, tart and oh so sweet.
- 1 can whipped topping
- 6-7 Nutter Butter cookies, broken
- Handful strawberries, washed and sliced
- 4 tablespoons peanut butter
- Into a pair of highball-sized glasses, add a generous squirt of whipped topping.
- Divide half of the broken cookies between the glasses, then top with some sliced strawberries.
- Add another layer of whipped topping, cookies and strawberries. Finish with one more blast of topping.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, warm up the peanut butter for about 10 seconds. Add a drizzle on top of the parfaits and serve immediately.
If homemade whipped cream is your journey, feel free to use your own recipe.
Feel free to improvise with other kinds of cookies and fruits. Ginger snaps and peaches would both be fantastic.
Want more great food writing and recipes? Subscribe to "The Bite," Salon Food's newsletter.
More of our favorite no-bake desserts:
- No baking is required to make this 5-ingredient chocolate truffle pie
- An absolutely effortless tiramisu, courtesy of a nostalgic childhood snack
- Make your own Fudgie the Whale for one: Easy individual ice cream cakes make every day a party
Salon Food writes about stuff we think you'll like. Salon has affiliate partnerships, so we may get a share of the revenue from your purchase.