This recipe is a story of obsession.
Of one woman’s journey to enjoy a dessert…
That she tried one time at Whole Foods.
But then could never find ever again.
It’s a story of triumph, tribulation, of a sweet tooth eventually rewarded.
Of realizing that when it comes to addicting desserts, you don’t want to be at the mercy of an unreliable grocery store bakery schedule.
You want to have the power to create said addicting dessert in your own kitchen.
Because at the end of the day, no one cares about your sweet tooth the way you do.
Ok, humor aside, the following is a true story.
Cherry Pie Parfaits: A True Story
A couple months ago, I went to Whole Foods for a few groceries. I couldn’t resist checking out what desserts were available, so I did.
And what I discovered was the most delicious store-bought dessert I’ve had in recent memory.
It was a cherry pie parfait.
This parfait was so good.
So good in fact, that three days after eating the parfait, I was still dreaming about it.
So I went to Whole Foods to get another cherry pie parfait. And they didn’t have any.
No big deal, I decided to try again the next day.
But the same thing happened, no cherry pie parfaits.
I tried my luck again the next day, but thought I’d be smart, and call the Whole Foods bakery first. I was informed that they didn’t have cherry pie parfaits that day, but they would tomorrow morning.
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Well, guess what Whole Foods didn’t have the next morning?
Yeah. Cherry pie parfaits.
Making My Own Cherry Pie Parfaits
This game of calling Whole Foods, being told that they’d have cherry pie parfaits at a certain time, and then me showing up at the store only to discover that whoever I spoke with on the phone didn’t know what they were talking about, went on for about two weeks.
I’m not going to tell you how many times I went to Whole Foods in my quest for this elusive parfait because it would be embarrassing.
Finally it dawned on me that this was stupid.
I could very easily make my own cherry pie parfaits, even with a few improvements to the one I was obsessing over.
So I did. And the result is these elegant cherry pie parfaits.
Each layer is homemade, and each layer is delicious on its own. Which means when you put the vanilla pudding, cherry filling, pie crust, and whipped cream all together, it’s just about the best dessert ever.
You can take my word for it, but you should really just make these parfaits at home yourself, and taste what I mean.
I think you’ll understand why I’m still happily obsessing over them.
A Few Things!
I recommend compiling and serving the parfaits in 5-6 ounce glasses. Here are my favorite on Amazon [aff. link]. You’ll get 10-12 parfaits using this size cup.
I also recommend using vanilla paste in the pudding. When you use vanilla paste, you get those gorgeous, vanilla bean speckles in the pudding at an affordable price. Here’s my favorite vanilla paste on Amazon [aff. link], but feel free to substitute the vanilla paste in my recipe with vanilla extract if that’s what you have on hand.
For the whipped cream, I prefer to pipe it on top of the parfaits. It adds to the presentation. Alternately, you can just dollop the whipped cream on top of each parfait. It’s definitely a lot easier.
If you do feel like going all out and piping the whipped cream, I recommend using a cupcake injector. I got my cupcake injector set at Sprouts years ago, but this one by Norpro [aff. link] is very similar to the one I use.
Cherry Pie Parfaits
For the pudding:
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla paste, or vanilla extract
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 3 Tbsp corn starch
For the cherries:
- 16 ounces cherries, frozen
- ½ Tbsp corn starch
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ salt
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
For the pie crust:
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup cold butter, or vegan butter, cubed
- ¼ cup cold shortening, cubed
- ¼ cup very cold almond milk, or milk of choice
For the whipped cream:
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the pudding
- In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, and corn starch. Set aside.
Heat the sugar, milk, and salt
- In a medium size saucepan, heat the sugar, milk and salt over medium heat, whisking continuously. Take off the heat just before the milk comes to a boil, about 5-6 minutes.
- Now add half of the hot milk mixture to the mixing bowl with the egg yolks, cream, and corn starch. Whisk continuously until the two mixtures have incorporated.
Transfer back to the saucepan
- Now transfer the mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining half of the hot milk, and whisk to combine.
- Bring the mixture to boil over medium heat, whisking continuously.
- Boil for 30-45 seconds, then bring the heat down to medium-low, whisking continuously the whole time. Let the mixture boil for 2 minutes (yep, you're still whisking!), until it thickens to a pudding consistency.
Add the vanilla and cream cheese
- Take the pudding off the heat, and add the vanilla paste and cream cheese. Stir to incorporate.
- Transfer the pudding to a large bowl, and let cool in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
A Note on the “skin”
- A “skin” will form on the top of the pudding. Personally, I don’t mind the skin. If I don’t want to eat it, I just peel it off the top of the pudding.
- If you don’t like the skin, you can help prevent one from forming by pressing saran wrap directly atop the pudding at the start of cooling.
Make the cherries
- While the pudding cools, make the cherries.
- Add the cherries, corn starch, sugar, maple syrup, and salt to a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until the cherries defrost and the cherry juice starts to thicken.
- Now turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very warm and has thickened further.
- Take the cherries off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice and zest. The cherries are done, set aside.
Make the crust
- In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, and salt with a fork.
- Now add in the cold butter and shortening. With a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients. (I always use my hands.) Basically, just work the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until you end up with a crumb topping-like mixture, with little balls the size of peas.
- Add in the cold milk, and mix until the pie dough comes together. If it feels a little dry, add an additional tsp or two of cold milk.
- At this point, you can form the dough into a disk, and refrigerate the dough for later use, or preheat the oven and bake it now.
Bake the pie crust
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a standard-sized baking sheet with cooking spray, and place the pie dough disk on top. Lightly flour a rolling pin, and roll the pie dough out. It should be about ⅛ inch thick, and cover the majority of the baking sheet.
- Bake the pie crust for 9-12 minutes at 375 degrees, until lightly browned. Let the pie crust cool.
Make the whipped cream
- Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract to a large, clean mixing bowl.
- With a handheld mixer over medium-low speed, whip the cream until it thickens and becomes whipped cream, about 10-14 minutes.
A note on the whipped cream
- If you will be piping the whipped cream on top of the parfaits, I recommend whipping the cream to stiff peaks. This will help the whipped cream retain structure both as you are piping, and afterwards. If you will just be dolloping a spoonful of cream over the top of each parfait, you can stop whipping when soft peaks form, if you prefer.
- Refrigerate the whipped cream until you’re ready to compile the parfaits. If piping the whipped cream, it’s best to make the whipped cream within 30 minutes of compiling the parfaits. The whipped cream will have the most structure and be easiest to pipe within 30 minutes of whipping.
Compile the parfaits
- Once all the parfait ingredients are prepared and have cooled, compile the parfaits.
- I prefer using 5-6 ounce cups for serving, and this recipe will make 10-12 parfaits of that size. If you use larger or smaller cups, adjust the ratios of each parfait component to preference.
- Start by layering about ¼ cup of the pudding in the bottom of the cup.
- Break the pie crust, and layer a few pieces over the pudding.
- Now add about 2-3 Tbsps of the cherry filling over the pie crust.
- Finally, dollop or pipe whipped cream over the top as the final layer.
- Repeat the layers in the rest of your serving cups.
Serve and enjoy!
- Enjoy the parfaits as an elegant dessert, or even for brunch.