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
serves 4 to 6
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus more for shavings
- 2 egg whites
- 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pour cold whipping cream into an extra large bowl, sift confectioners’ sugar over top, and add 2 teaspoons of the vanilla extract. Beat with electric hand mixer or whisk until 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 or whisk* until soft peaks form. Slowly pour in 2 tablespoons of the 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 until completely incorporated. Set aside.
Remove two more cups of whipped cream from the extra large bowl and save for the final layer. You should have two cups of whipped cream remaining in the extra large bowl. To this, add the peanut butter and beat with electric hand mixer or with a whisk until peanut butter is thoroughly incorporated. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, remaining tablespoon sugar, and salt and beat until soft peaks form.
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 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 or whisk 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.