strawberry parfait with toasted oat crumble and vanilla CRÈME anglaise

As a child I thought that desserts which contained fruit were a sneaky tactic of adults to get their children to eat more fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, I grew up (as one does), and now love strawberries in any course of a meal. It felt like an obvious choice to use strawberries here, especially being peak strawberry season. It’s a classic pairing with the oat crumble and vanilla crème anglaise (a fancy term for custard sauce), though you could substitute any berry, or nearly any fruit. I’ll be eating this fresh, light, and delicious parfait all summer long- plus it can be prepped almost entirely in advance. It’s great warm or chilled, though chilled has my vote, especially on a hot summer day.


STRAWBERRY PARFAIT WITH TOASTED OAT CRUMBLE AND VANILLA CRÈME ANGLAISE
vanilla crème anglaise recipe adapted from Epicurious
serves 4

note: this can be prepped in advance, with ingredients ready to assemble

Ingredients:
3 to 3.5 cups sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
vanilla crème anglaise (recipe below)
toasted oat crumble (recipe below)
fresh mint, for garnish

vanilla crème anglaise:
1 cup half and half (or ½ cup whole milk and ½ cup whipping cream)
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla

toasted oat crumble:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons shredded coconut
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Make the vanilla crème anglaise: In a small saucepan, heat the half and half over medium heat until it just barely begins to simmer, whisking frequently (do not let it boil or come to a full simmer). Remove from heat and set aside for a minute or two.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Slowly pour some of the heated milk into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly (I found it easier to use a liquid measuring cup to transfer the heated milk, rather than pouring directly from the saucepan, which proved to be a bit messy). Pour the egg, sugar, and milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Place the saucepan back on the stove and heat over medium-low, whisking constantly. Do not let the custard simmer or boil, or you will curdle the eggs and the custard will be chunky. The sauce should thicken over the next 5-8 minutes. When it has thickened, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and sea salt. Pour the custard into a small container and refrigerate (alternatively, you can serve the custard warm). The custard can be made ahead and will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.

Make the brown sugar crumble: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all toasted oat crumble ingredients together in a medium bowl. Spread in a single layer onto a baking sheet and toast for 8 min, stirring halfway. Set aside to cool.

Prep the strawberries: Gently toss together the strawberries and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Put in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

When ready to assemble and serve: Set out 4 small bowls or 4 parfait/dessert glasses. Alternate layering the sliced strawberries with a small amount of the toasted oat crumble in each of the bowls, saving a few tablespoons of the crumble for garnishing at the end. Pour some of the chilled vanilla crème anglaise over each of the bowls. You can use the entire amount of crème anglaise, or use less if you prefer a lighter amount (leftovers go well with practically any fruit, or with cake, muffins, etc). Top each bowl with the remaining oat crumble and garnish with a few mint leaves.

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