When I was growing up, my mother cooked almost every night. Going out was reserved for special occasions and the rare evenings when she was too exhausted to think about putting food on the table. On those nights when we sensed a crack in her resolve, my sister and I would lobby for KFC, where I loved not only the crispy, salty fried chicken but also the whipped cream laden dessert parfaits. Kath always picked the one with chocolate pudding and I, the one that riffed on strawberry shortcake with those unnaturally red, gelatinous strawberries and too sweet vanilla cake. While you couldn’t pay me to come near one of those peel-the-foil-off-the-plastic-container confections now (or KFC for that matter), I still get a child-like thrill when excavating my way through parfait layers with a long spoon.
I wouldn’t blame you for crushing up peanut butter cookies, spooning them into the bottom of the glass and sprinkling between layers just before serving. Or tipping toward the chocolate end of the spectrum, adding crushed chocolate wafers in the same way. But there is something about the pure, unadulterated creaminess of this version, save for the delicate snap of chocolate shavings, that feels just right to me.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Parfaits
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons superfine (caster) sugar, divided
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus more for shavings
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pour cold whipping cream into an extra-large bowl and beat with electric hand mixer until cream begins to thicken. Slowly add the 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract, beating until medium-to-stiff peaks form—you should have approximately 6 cups of whipped cream. Place in fridge.
Put chopped chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat proof bowl placed over gently simmering water (making sure bowl does not touch water), stirring until melted. Remove from heat.
Place egg whites in a large bowl and beat with electric hand mixer, using squeaky clean beaters,* until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Add melted chocolate and fold gently with a whisk until almost incorporated. Take 2 cups of the whipped cream and add to the bowl of egg white/chocolate mixture, folding gently with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. Set aside.
Place peanut butter, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, and vanilla in a medium bowl, and beat with hand mixer to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved whipped cream and beat until smooth. Add another 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream to the bowl and gently fold in with clean rubber spatula. Reserve the remaining whipped cream for the top layer.
Divide chocolate mousse evenly between goblets or dessert glasses, then the peanut butter cream, and finally the whipped cream. Top with chocolate shavings and chill for at least two hours or until ready to serve.
To make chocolate shavings, place a long side of the bittersweet chocolate bar against the palm of your hand for a few moments to warm it, then shave with a vegetable peeler.
*Wash and dry your hand beaters extremely well after using to whip the cream. Any remaining fat on the beaters or whisk will prevent your egg whites from whipping properly.
If you’re looking for another Valentine’s Day sweet, try my Strawberry Vanilla Rice Krispie Hearts.