Friday, June 29, 2018

Ave Maria: Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

It was cookbook club time again, and our selection was Mexican Made Easy by Marcela Valladolid. There were some very tasty-looking recipes in there, full of spice and heat! But I really wanted to make a dessert, so I focused on that chapter and selected something described as a trifle. It used things like sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and fresh limes. Yum! Instead of something like pound cake, however, the recipe called for Maria cookies as the base, which are akin to tea biscuits and completely delightful. And the most wondrous things of all? After shopping for my ingredients, I actually FOLLOWED THE RECIPE to make the dish. Exactly. To the letter. Okay, I added a little splash of vanilla extract, but otherwise totally the same. And used some zest as well as the juice of the limes. BUT THAT WAS IT, I PROMISE. I layered and poured and layered again, and you know what? It was terrible! The flavors were excellent, but the consistency lacked...consistency.

It was like a baby had left their teething biscuits in all that milk and then you found this lime-zest-flecked montage-strosity the next day. I must have done something wrong, but I didn't have time to make anything else, so I suffered and brought my soupy mess to the meeting anyway. To everyone's credit, they dutifully tried it. Thankfully, there was a knockout dessert from another member, and all the other dishes were fantastic. But those Maria cookies haunted me. I knew they could be put to better use, and they had paired so well with the creamy milk and the sharp fruitiness of the lime. Heck, they were even delicious on their own! And I still yearned for a layered dessert, something to please the eye as well as the palate:

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits

10 Maria cookies (or other plain tea biscuits), finely crushed (you should have about 1/2 cup crumbs)
2 Tablespoons butter
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled and diced

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat and add cookie crumbs. Stir to coat the crumbs with butter, then continue to toast the crumbs for another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Let cool completely.

In a small bowl, thoroughly combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Using four glass dishes/containers/wine glasses (about a cup in capacity), place a quarter of the cooled crumbs in each. Carefully add a fourth of the cheese mixture to each dish, and spread slowly to cover the crumbs. Finally, add a fourth of the strawberries and serve!

Notes: The parfaits can be made 2-4 hours in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge until ready to serve. Absolutely use any kind of berry, fruit, or a combination to your taste. Can't be bothered to layer? Just make a double or triple batch of the cheese mixture and serve in a bowl as a dessert dip with sliced fruit and Maria cookies on the side (the cookies are also available in chocolate in many stores). I haven't tested it, but I bet the cookies would make excellent s'mores—if you try it, let us know in the comments!



  1. Your dessert wasn't terrible! The flavors were great. Glad you put the rest of the cookies to good use... these parfaits look yummy!

    1. Thanks, Nancy!!! Definitely let me know if you try these over the (HOT) holiday!


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