French for perfect, the elegant chocolate parfait was created in the late-1800s as a custard-like puree, which was frozen in a tall glass and daintily chipped away at by hungry cafe-goers equipped with long-handled spoons. It was similar to ice cream and eventually came to be layered with fruit syrups and fruit liqueurs. Depending on where you reside, however, best to double-check with the waiter as it may sometimes include chicken liver pâté!
That’s right, in some places such as Germany and the United Kingdom, parfait can refer to a smooth meat pâté made from chicken liver, or duck liver, which is actually sweetened with liqueurs before being served. While we’re clarifying what parfait is, we must note that if any menu mentions pâté à bombe, say “yes” to this one. This is the rich and fluffy egg base, which is used for mousse and sometimes included in our sweet and delicate parfaits.
But what’s parfait like in other parts of the world? Well, in Italy there’s a similar dessert, Spumoni, with multi-coloured layers of shaved ice and different flavoured gelato. In Canada, the US, and Australia, parfait can resemble its original French version, but also lighter and healthier versions have been adapted to include layers of yoghurt and granola, or muesli. With the addition of nuts and fresh fruit, and even chia pudding, it’s no wonder this dessert joins the ranks of pancakes and crêpes as an acceptable breakfast option.
Other layered after-dinner desserts similar to parfait include the English trifle, which comes in a great big bowl, and the Italian tiramisu, both of which require to be portioned off into individual serves. So nothing else quite compares to sitting down with this individual dessert, double-dipping as much as you want, and having no pressure at all to share it with a neighbour.
Whether you have yours after dinner, or maybe for breakfast, Happy National Chocolate Parfait Day!