Vegan parfait, coconut cream, steel cut oats, goji berries, apple, mango, pistachio, almonds, pumpkin seeds © Amber Gibson
There are predictable parfaits – Greek or vanilla yogurt, berries (even when they’re out of season), and boxed granola – and then there are perfect parfaits. Some may argue that perfection is impossible, but we beg to differ. These intriguing flavor combinations make us swoon and are worth getting up for in the morning. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration to create your own perfect parfait at home with a farmer’s market haul, local honey, and artisanal syrups.
It’s not often you see three different parfaits on a breakfast menu, and I was intrigued by the selection at the Four Seasons Aviara, in Carlsbad, California, just north of San Diego. Chef Jonathan Sudar was inspired by his Southern Californian surroundings when creating the California parfait, which subs avocado and mango for the typical berries. The accompanying honey lime yogurt has a playful sweet and sour flavor that complements the nutty housemade granola.
There’s also a vegan parfait (recipe below!) on the menu with sweetened coconut cream instead of yogurt, crunchy steel cut oats, nuts, seeds, and chopped apples and mango. The amalgamation of textures and flavors is perfection. “I use a lot of nuts, seeds, and ancient grains in my cooking,” Sudar says. “The coconut cream mimics yogurt and serves as a great medium to eat a parfait.”
Cocoa nib granola, espresso yogurt, grapefruit, orange, mint © Amber Gibson
In Chicago, Chef John Manion at La Sirena Clandestina collaborates with La Colombe coffee roasters to infuse his yogurt with an exclusive espresso blend. He swirls in his own cocoa nib granola with pepitas, honey, brown sugar, cayenne, and nuts, then tops it all off with fresh citrus segments and torn mint to brighten the deep, earthy flavors. This started as a special dish for a brunch in February but was so popular that it’s now on the regular weekend brunch menu.
Chia seeds steal the show in a chia seed granola parfait at New York City’s Café Clover. The health-conscious West Village hot spot is know for pure, simple yet incredibly flavorful food. This breakfast parfait checks every box with fresh Greek yogurt, stewed apricots, chia seed granola, and a drizzle of raw local honey. “Chia seeds have great nutritional value,” says Chef David Standridge. “They also give the granola a nice crunch when toasted.” Standbridge also subs blueberries for the standard raisins for an extra boost of antioxidants.
Chef Amalia Scatena also features chia seeds in her horchata parfait at Cannon Green in Charleston, but she subs the nutritious Mexican superfood for yogurt, soaking it in housemade horchata almond milk and cinnamon, then topping off the concoction with fresh berries. The ingredients are inspired by Chef Amalia Scatena’s childhood visiting her grandparents in Mexico. “Chia seeds are really popular right now,” Scatena says. “So we wanted to put our own twist on the healthy dish. We took a Latin approach by adding horchata, a delicious rich, milky beverage, and fresh, local berries. The result is a decadent but good-for-you breakfast bowl that brunch-goers love!”
Vegan Parfait Recipe from Four Seasons Aviara
What you’ll need:
1 can coconut cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup steel cut oats, toasted
1/8 cup goji berries
1/4 apple, diced
1/4 mango, diced
1/8 cup pistachio, toasted
1/8 cup almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons flax seeds
What you’ll do:
1. Plan the can of coconut cream in a refrigerator overnight or at least for 6 hours. Take the hardened cream out and discard the coconut water.
2. Whip the coconut cream with the sugar.
3. Mix the goji berries, apple, and mango together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the pistachio, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds together.
4. To assemble, place 1/4 of the coconut cream in your “vessel” of choice.
5. Layer with the nut mixture, then the coconut cream, and then the seeds.
6. Continue to top making sure that the top layer is a mixture of the fruit, nuts, and seeds.
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