In the province of Ontario, we can’t buy alcohol at a convenience store. We have the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, or more affectionately known as the LCBO. We can buy beer and local wine at a couple of other locations, but for the most part, this is THE place to buy alcohol, and the only place to buy liquor and imported wine. I’m not going to talk about our alcohol situation (I barely even drink), but as you might imagine, sometimes it’s a little more annoying and expensive than it should be to get booze around here. To prevent us from complaining (or to sell more booze), the LCBO comes out with an amazing and free seasonal publication called Food and Drink. It’s filled with gorgeous photos, delicious recipes, wine pairing suggestions, and loads of other information. This magazine is usually my reason for visiting the LCBO. I take note of the next release date in every current issue and make sure to be there within a couple of days, they go fast. The spring 2012 issue has a parfait of peppery apricots and chocolate.
Apricots are cooked in orange juice, ginger, peppercorns, and sweet wine, then layered between chocolate-yogurt-mascarpone cream. This looks crazy good! The page corner got folded for future making, but I was intrigued to experiment with the yogurt-mascarpone combination right away. I lightly sweetened it with honey, and layered it with a super simple strawberry-honey-basil puree.
My mom always makes a delicious strawberry puree when strawberries are in season. It’s super simple with only two ingredients: strawberries and sugar. It only takes a few minutes to prepare and goes well with everything. We use it on waffles, ricotta gnocci, fresh cheese, ice cream, yogurt, as a cake filling, or I sometimes just eat it with a spoon. In this version, I’ve dialed down the sweetness and replaced sugar with honey. I’ve also added a couple of basil leaves just because I love that combination.
Now as I said, I’m saving the apricot-chocolate version of the parfait for another special time, as it requires more ingredients and some time for preparation. I promise to share it when I do. I realize that people outside of Ontario don’t have access to the wonderful Food and Drink magazine, but you can access most (if not all) of the recipes online. The current issue’s recipes are not usually available right away, but the archives are. It’s a really great resource.
What I’m sharing today requires a few basic ingredients and 5 minutes – no cooking required. The mascarpone added to the yogurt easily transforms the parfait from breakfast to dessert, adding the perfect kick of indulgence. What I loved about making this, aside from it being ridiculously simple, is that everything can be tweaked on the spot. Want it sweeter? Add more honey. Lighter? Use more yogurt and less mascarpone. Don’t like basil? Try mint.
Oh, and if anyone can suggest a sexier word for “puree”, please help me out, I’m drawing a blank.
- 1/2 lb strawberries, trimmed + 1 cup strawberries, trimmed and chopped
- 1 Tbsp. + 3 Tbsp. honey + more for drizzling
- 3 large basil leaves
- 1 cup plain yogurt (at least 2%)
- 1 cup mascarpone
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Combine 1/2 lb of strawberries with 1Tbsp. honey and basil in a food processor and pulse until pureed with some strawberry pieces still visible.
- Taste and add more honey if you like it sweeter and set aside.
- Using a whisk, stir mascarpone, yogurt, 3 Tbsp. honey, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
- Divide yogurt-mascarpone mixture and strawberry puree between 4 glasses or dessert cups, layering appropriately for the shape of the glass.
- Top with chopped strawberries and basil leaves. Drizzle with honey.