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Red & White Parfaits Tested Recipe

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Red and White Parfaits Recipe

Some recipes come about simply by chance. That is how it was with these Red and White Parfaits. One day I decided to redo the photographs for both the Panna Cotta and the Strawberry Creams. While I was making these two desserts it suddenly occurred to me to pair the Panna Cotta with the Raspberry Jelly (which was the topping for the Strawberry Creams). How delicious this combination turned out to be; the beautiful ivory colored, custard-like Panna Cotta with its a rich and creamy flavor and silky smooth texture, layered with the intensely tart fruity flavor of Raspberry Jelly. And you must agree that the red and white layers make this the perfect dessert for Canada Day and July 4th (when garnished with fresh blueberries).

Panna Cotta is a cold Italian dessert that literally means "cooked cream". It contains only a few ingredients; cream (and/or milk), sugar, and vanilla that are set with gelatin. Raspberry Jelly is also set with unflavored gelatin and is made from unsweetened frozen raspberries that have been heated with sugar and then pressed through a fine sieve to remove their seeds. To make these parfaits, the Panna Cotta and Raspberry Jelly are first made and then a layer of raspberry jelly is poured into each serving glass and placed in the refrigerator to set for an hour. Next, a layer of Panna Cotta is poured on top of the raspberry jelly and, again, placed in the fridge to set. The layers are then repeated. The important thing to remember when making any layered gelatin dessert is that each layer must be allowed to set before you add the next layer. This keeps each layer separate and prevents one layer from bleeding into the other. I like to make this dessert a day before serving so the raspberry jelly's tart flavor has time to soften. For an elegant presentation, make these parfaits in long stem wine glasses.  .

I know there is an ongoing debate about whether leaf gelatin is better than powdered gelatin. For practical purposes, though, I have used powdered gelatin as leaf gelatin is hard to come by in North America, save ordering it. Powdered unflavored gelatin is sold in the baking section of grocery stores and is packaged in small boxes which hold four paper envelopes of powdered gelatin. Each 1/4 ounce (7 grams) (scant tablespoon) envelope of gelatin will jell about 2 cups (480 ml) of liquid. Unflavored gelatin is tiny granules that are tasteless, colorless, and odorless. It is used as a thickening agent but only becomes active when dissolved in hot water. To use gelatin you first need to sprinkle it over a cold liquid so the gelatin softens, swells and becomes spongy. The softened gelatin then needs to be warmed so the granules completely dissolve and the proteins become activated. To check to see if the gelatin has completely dissolved, dip a spoon into the gelatin and check to see that all the crystals have melted.


Raspberry Jelly:  Place the frozen raspberries and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Cover the bowl with a piece of aluminum foil and heat the berries, stirring occasionally, for about 30 - 40 minutes, or until the berries are soft and have released their juices. Then, remove the berries from the heat and press them through a fine meshed strainer suspended over a large measuring cup. All that should be left in the strainer is raspberry seeds. You need 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) of raspberry juice so add water, if necessary, to get that amount.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl soften the gelatin in 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water. Let this mixture sit for 5 - 10 minutes.  Meanwhile heat the raspberry juice until hot, stirring constantly. Stir the softened gelatin into the heated raspberry juice until the gelatin particles have completely dissolved. If necessary, return the saucepan to the stove and stir over low heat until you no longer see any gelatin particles. Let the raspberry jelly cool slightly and then take half of the jelly and divide it evenly between four - 1 cup (240 ml) serving glasses. Place in the refrigerator to set for about one hour or until firm.

Meanwhile, make the Panna Cotta. Place the gelatin and cold milk in a small bowl and let this mixture sit for about 5 - 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the powdered sugar. Once the cream is very hot, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla. Stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved. If necessary, return the saucepan to the stove and stir over low heat until you no longer see any gelatin particles. Remove from heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cool but not set. Take half of the Panna Cotta and divide it evenly between the four serving glasses (pouring it on top of the raspberry jelly). Refrigerate until set, about one hour. Repeat with another layer of raspberry jelly and then another layer of Panna Cotta. If either the raspberry jelly or Panna Cotta becomes too firm, set over a saucepan of simmering water until softened.

To serve; top each parfait with fresh raspberries and blueberries.

Makes 4 - one cup (240 ml) servings.


Alexander, Stephanie. 'The Cook's Companion'. Lantern. A Penguin Group. Victoria: 2003.

Gold, Rozanne. 'Desserts 1-2-3'. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. New York: 2002.

Grigson, Jane. 'Jane Grigson's Fruit Book'. Penguin Books. London: 1982.

Killeen, Johanne and Germon, George. 'Cucina Simptica'. Harper Collins Publishers. New York: 1991.

Martha Stewart Living Magazine. July 2006 Issue.

Raspberry Jelly:

1 - 12 ounce (340 grams) bag of frozen, unsweetened raspberries

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 grams) granulated white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water

Panna Cotta Recipe:

1 package (1/4 ounce) (7 grams) unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup (60 ml) cold milk

2 1/4 cups (540 ml) heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract


Fresh Blueberries and Raspberries


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