Strawberry season in New England is short and sweet.
I remember going to the local farm as a kid, where you could pay to pick your own fresh, ripe berries in early summer.
My two little brothers loved to eat the berries more than they liked to fill their containers.
I’d cringe to see them emerge from the fields, the evidence of their feast dribbling down their chins and covering their T-shirts with vivid red berry stains.
I was always sure the cashier would add an extra pint to our total payment, to account for all those fresh berries now clearly in their bellies, but no one ever did.
And now I realize, who could blame them?
A juicy bite of sun-ripened, fresh-from-the-field strawberry is pure bliss.
So, of course, I couldn’t let strawberry season slip through my fingers without at least one sweet, berry-filled dessert recipe.
So I made this indulgent strawberry parfait.
Instead of a typical buttery biscuit, I used a light, airy cake that has the slightest hint of almond flavor.
And I topped it all off with a sweet mascarpone cream.
This was one of my first recipes working with mascarpone (a thick Italian cream), and I really loved it.
It has the perfect consistency for a parfait – really rich and creamy (a little goes a long way) but not too thick (it’s so quick and easy to simply stir in a bit of sugar and vanilla – no whipping or electric hand mixer required!)
Here is the complete, printable recipe:
- Serving size: 16
- Calories: 253
- Fat: 10.4g
- Saturated fat: 3.2g
- Carbohydrates: 34.1g
- Sugar: 19.5g
- Sodium: 148mg
- Fiber: 1.6g
- Protein: 6.3g
- Cholesterol: 34mg
Vitamin C (56% Daily Value) - helps detoxify the body, protects against free radicals and pollution, builds a strong and healthy immune system, promotes clear and smooth skin
Calcium (10% Daily Value) - builds strong, healthy bones & helps body burn more fat and store less fat
Total Time: 45 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 16 servings (16 mini parfaits)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup organic 1 percent milk
- ½ cup organic low-fat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 organic pastured eggs
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons almond extract
- 1½ cups mascarpone
- 1 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
- 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 32 ounces strawberries, stemmed and diced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the following until well combined: milk, yogurt, eggs, olive oil, granulated sugar, and almond extract.
- Add the flour mixture to the olive oil mixture and stir just until ingredients are combined.
- Lightly grease a small round cake pan with a bit of oil, and pour the batter into the cake pan. Smooth the surface of the batter so that it is evenly distributed in the pan.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the edges begin to turn lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Allow cake to cool, then transfer to a large plate or platter. Cut cake into small half-inch cubes.
- While cake is baking, prepare the mascarpone cream. In a bowl, stir the mascarpone, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until well combined.
- Assemble parfaits by layering first cake, then diced strawberries, and topping with a dollop of mascarpone cream. Serve.
To make the parfaits, I started by collecting all of these ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Then grab a mixing bowl and add the dry ingredients: some whole wheat flour and some all-purpose flour, a bit of baking powder and baking soda, and a pinch of salt.
Then, in a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: a bit of low-fat milk, some plain Greek yogurt, a couple of eggs, some granulated sugar.
Also add a bit of almond extract – this gives the cake the slightest almond flavor.
And add some extra virgin olive oil (you won’t taste the flavor of olive oil in the cake it all – the heart-healthy oil just adds a buttery richness to the cake).
Next, pour the flour mixture into the olive oil mixture and stir just until all of the ingredients are well combined.
Then grab a round cake pan (I used a 9″ cake pan, and the batter filled it about halfway) and coat it with the slightest bit of oil (just to keep the cake from sticking to the pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan.
Smooth out the surface of the batter so that the mixture is evenly distributed in the pan.
Pop the cake into the oven and let it bake until you notice the edges turn golden.
At that point, insert a toothpick into the very center of the cake – if it comes out without any batter clinging to it, the cake is finished (if it’s not ready, allow it to bake for several minutes more before testing it again).
Let it cool for several minutes (in the meantime, it will fill the kitchen with the tastiest aroma of freshly baked, sweet almond cake.)
Then run a knife all around the edges of the cake to make sure it’s not sticking to the pan at all…
…And transfer it to a large plate or platter.
Then cut the cake into mini half-inch cubes.
While the cake is baking, prepare the mascarpone cream.
I love mascarpone because it tastes amazing (it’s a thick Italian cream you’ll likely find near the sour cream and cream cheese in the dairy section).
And, it’s the perfect consistency for a parfait, so it’s extremely easy to prepare, with no whipping or electric hand mixing needed.
In a bowl, stir the mascarpone along with some confectioners sugar and a bit of vanilla extract until well combined.
Next, dice up some fresh strawberries and then the fun part: assembling the dessert!
Any kind of mini parfait glass will work – – I used mini mason jars.
Layer first some cubed cake, then plenty of the diced berries.
Then top it all off with a dollop of the mascarpone cream (I quickly learned that I used way too much mascarpone in these photos – a little goes a long way!)
This recipe makes enough mini desserts to feed a crowd.
If you’d like to make fewer parfaits, it’s easy to just cut the recipe in half (using a small 6″ round pan works well for the cake).
I called this recipe “Skinny” Strawberry Shortcake Parfaits, and I think most recipes that feature fresh summer berries as the star could claim that title.
Berries are so low in calories and so rich in healthy vitamins and antioxidants – they really boost the nutrition in a dessert.
It’s the best of both worlds – sweet, indulgent flavor with some health and wellness benefits too!