French for perfect, the elegant chocolate parfait came on the scene the late-1800s. A custard-like puree frozen in a tall glass, it was daintily chipped away at by cafe-goers. Equipped with long-handled spoons, of course. It was similar to ice cream and eventually came with layers of 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 (Germany and the UK), parfait can refer to a smooth meat pâté made from poultry liver. This is sweetened with liqueurs before serving. While we’re clarifying what parfait is…if a menu lists pâté à bombe, do say “yes” to this one. This rich and fluffy egg base has no liver in it. It’s actually used for the mousse that is sometimes in in our sweet and delicate parfait desserts.
But what’s parfait like in other parts of the world? Well, in Italy there’s a similar dessert, Spumoni, with multicolour layers of shaved ice and different flavours of gelato. In Canada, the US, and Australia, parfait can resemble its original French version. Lighter and healthier versions have also been adapted to include layers of yoghurt and granola, or muesli. With the addition of nuts and fresh fruit, it’s no wonder this dessert joins the ranks of pancakes and crêpes as an acceptable breakfast option. Don’t forget the versions made with chia pudding!
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 must be portioned off into individual serves. In other words, we must share it. But 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 leave the last bite for a neighbour.
Whether you have yours after dinner, or maybe for breakfast, Happy National Chocolate Parfait Day! Here’s where you can find some locally made parfaits.