After a full day touring, or teaching cooking classes, when I really have no energy left for cooking at home, especially during summer – and this summer’s crazy heatwave – I usually resort to easy and quick recipes to cheat my way onto the dinner table, and bring happy faces to family and friends. The recent food press is all in favor of the no-cook trend, which greatly picks up during the hotter months, when there’s no desire to potter stove side, not to mention lighting an oven to bake.
There’s one particular dessert that’s always a huge success when I host cooking classes, especially during summer. This recipe is perfect for those hot July and August days. It takes 5 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to chill and few seconds to finish off.
A parfait is usually a dessert consisting of layers of ice cream, meringue, and fruit, served in a tall glass. My version involves gelato, fresh seasonal fruit and crumbled cookies. I use Gentilini cookies, which are fantastic butter and honey biscuits made in Rome since the end of the 1800s. Buttery sablé Gentilini “Osvego” taste of childhood bliss, sunny afternoons and playtime.
Ingredients for 4 servings of my no bake summer parfait:
- 500 g (2 lbs) gelato, vanilla flavor
- 2 punnets of fresh strawberries, raspberries or blueberries (or any seasonal fruit growing in your area, finely chopped)
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 200 g (1 cup) Gentilini or any shortbread, sablé cookies
- 100 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped (optional)
Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. If you prefer you can put them in a sealed freezer bag and bash them to crumbs with a rolling pin. Tip the crumbs into a mixing bowl, add the melted butter and a tablespoon of water, and work with your fingertips until clumpy.
Start by spooning about 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture in tall cocktail or stem wine glasses. Using the back of a metal spoon and your fingers, press down firmly and evenly against the sides of each serving glass to form the crust base of your parfait.
Trim any stems off the berries (or pit and chop stone fruit) and stew shortly in some lemon juice. I don’t add sugar, but if you like you can add 1 tbsp brown sugar to the fruit.
Spoon out 3 scoops of gelato in each glass.
Heap the berries or fruit of choice on top, and refrigerate for about 20 – 30 minutes. If using, sprinkle with chopped mint leaves before serving.
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, journalist, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her show “ABCheese” is broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso. She loves guiding culturally curious, food-passionate travellers seeking experiences in Italy beyond the guidebook.