Do you love ice cream? We surely do. So much so that, several years ago, I bought an ice cream maker so we could make our own and avoid excessive sugar, mystery ingredients and one-use throw-away tubs. Since then, we’ve enjoyed dozens of ice cream recipes. Of them, this strawberry cheesecake ice cream parfait is absolutely the best frozen dessert I’ve ever made.
If you like the creaminess of cheesecake, the sweetened berries and the crumbly crust, just imagine all those sweet, tangy, rich flavors and textures in a creamy, frozen version. If you’re like us, you’ll want to eat the whole batch as soon as you make it.
It makes an awfully pretty dessert for company, so I save it for special occasions, when strawberries, and sometimes peaches, are in season. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, what could be a better treat–and a little different than the usual apple pie or chocolate torte?
My sweetheart, who could eat ice cream for breakfast lunch and dinner, if it weren’t for a lot of self-control, says this is the best ice cream in the world. My goodness.
Taste, texture, delight and, whoopee, a little bit better for us too
If you know me, you know I’m forever experimenting with ways to make foods we love healthy, or at least healthier. Now ice cream and cheesecake are two of our big weaknesses, so when I ran across a photograph of sour cream cheesecake ice cream dripping in canned, syrupy fruit, right away my mind began to spin. Could I make a frozen cheesecake dessert with fewer calories and, who knows, perhaps even more taste?
First up, what to do about that sour cream? If I replaced it with real yogurt, made with nothing but whole milk and live cultures, could I get just as delicious a tang? You betcha. Plus, we would miss out on all the weird things they put in sour cream these days. Have you read one of those labels lately? Ugh!
And what about the cheese in cheesecake? Since I didn’t have to bake it, I could use the almost identical, lower-cal Neufchatel in place of regular cream cheese and get the same texture and flavor with fewer fat calories.
One problem. To get that smooth, fluffy ice cream texture we love, I’d need a little whipping cream. I added just enough to give it volume.
Sugar? One of the benefits of owning an ice cream maker is that I decide what goes in all our frozen desserts. We soon discovered we don’t need nearly as much sugar as most ice cream recipes call for. In fact, we like our ice cream better with less sugar. We get to taste more of the nuances of the cream and whatever goodies we add.
Ever notice a hint of citrus in some cheesecakes? We love that here at Chez Grace. When in season, I use the juice and zest from a sweet Meyer lemon for that extra little piquant goodness in the back of your mouth. Not so much it hits you, just enough to make you smile and say, wow, what is it that makes this so good?
What about the crust? Cheesecake has a crust, right? That’s easy! I crushed up delightfully sandy shortbread cookies from our local (mostly organic) bakery. I could use organic vanilla wafers too, and have in a pinch, but if you have a favorite shortbread, I recommend giving it a try with this recipe.
Now what about that syrupy fruit topping I’d seen in the original photograph? I have to admit, that stuff actually makes me gag. Give me fresh fruit, please! We love this with strawberries, and when peaches are in season? Oh my. Even better. Either way, a splash of vanilla and just a little maple syrup enhance the fruits and add a slightly richer dimension to the dessert.
A little more time, a few more steps
As you can see in this slide show, this recipe takes a little more planning and time than my 5-minute ice cream recipes for the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, but it’s well worth the bother.
Can you almost catch a drift of the scents of the cream, yogurt, cheese and lemon? Delightful! Together with the colorful berries, they make preparing this dessert a feast for the senses.
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Parfait Recipe
Layers of crumbled cookie, cheesecake ice cream and strawberries make this a pretty, fun and flavorful treat. But it’s the slightly lower sugar content, yogurt in place of sour cream, and emphasis on fresh whole fruits that make it healthier than your average tub of supermarket ice cream.
Omit the muffin tin stage, if you like, and have everyone build their own parfait as soon as the ice cream is ready to dish up. It’s more fun that way!
- 1 8-ounce block Organic Neufchatel cheese
- 1 C whipping cream
- 1-1/2 C Plain live-culture yogurt (no additives)
- 2/3 C Organic evaporated cane juice (table sugar)
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 C Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 Pint strawberries
- 2-4 T Organic maple syrup, to taste
- 1/2 t Organic Vanilla extract
- Using a blending stick or a blender, process the cream cheese, yogurt, cream, lemon juice, zest and sugar until smooth, about one minute. Cover and refrigerate for one hour, up to 24 hours.
- After at least one hour chilling, set up your ice cream maker and pour the cheesecake filling mixture into the machine. If yours is like mine, the machine should be running when you begin to pour. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
- While the machine churns the ice cream, clean your strawberries, reserving one whole berry with stem on for each parfait glass. Cut up the rest into two tablespoons maple syrup.
- Add the vanilla to the strawberries and mix gently with the maple syrup. The vanilla will taste a little strong at first, but it will meld with the berries as they chill. Add another tablespoon or two maple syrup, if you want your berries a little sweeter. Cover the berries and chill in the refrigerator until ready to assemble your parfaits.
- Meanwhile, place 12 baking parchment cupcake papers in a muffin pan.
When the ice cream is ready, fill each cupcake paper one-half to two-thirds full. Place pan in freezer till solid, about one hour in my freezer. You will have ice cream left over. Spoon that into a freezer container. Some will be used for garnish on the parfaits. Some may be leftover for another day.
- Place 6-12 cookies between two layers of baking parchment and crush with rolling pin to fairly fine crumbs. You need 1-2 tablespoons crumbs per parfait glass. Spoon 1-2 teaspoons crumbs into the bottom of each glass, reserving rest for layering and the topping.
- When the ice cream is solid, peel the baking parchment cup away and carefully lay on top of the crumbs. Layer the sweetened strawberries, more crumbs, another ice cream round from the muffin tin, and a last layer of strawberries.
- Top with a dollop of ice cream from the excess tub you froze earlier, a sprinkling of crumbs and a perfect whole strawberry.
All done! If serving for Mother’s Day or another special occasion, pour a flute of champagne for each guest (sparkling water for the kiddies) to go with the dessert. Toast the occasion and spoon all that sweet, tangy, creamy, delightful goodness up before it melts!
This is a YayYay’s Kitchen original recipe. Please link back to this page if you base a recipe of your own on this one.
If you want a nicer looking layered parfait, freeze the ice cream as I describe in the recipe. But it’s really fun to have all the parfait additions ready and let everyone build their own after the Cuisinart ice cream maker finishes churning.
If it’s a hot day, the ice cream will melt a bit much before you can get decent pics, like these did, despite my having chilled the glasses, but we smacked our lips and oohed and ahhed all the same. Everyone wanted seconds.
How much do you enjoy experimenting with recipes like this?
I’m glad you took a look at my recipe. Do you get a kick out of experimenting with fun desserts? Would you make this frozen cheesecake parfait? Or would you rather stick with a quicker ice cream recipe? We have six family favorites for the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker (linked to above) that take only five minutes to stir up. Of course, time, the refrigerator and the ice cream machine have to do their parts, but your time is almost nothing, apart from the eating and enjoying!
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Dear Readers: If you think you’ve seen this recipe before, you may have. In August 2014, as a writer on the now-defunct site Squidoo, I first published this recipe under the user name graceonline. That same month HubPages, where I am known as ecogranny, bought Squidoo. I opted to have my Squidoo pages, including this recipe, transferred to the new site. Now, in May 2016, I’ve brought it home–to YayYay’s Kitchen.
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