This recipe is inspired by one my mom made for company when I was a kid. It’s still one of the most simple, elegant, amazing desserts I’ve ever seen—or eaten. She merely arranged green grapes in a wine goblet with dollops of sour cream and sprinkles of brown sugar. The green, white, and caramel-colored layers were graphic and beautiful, and the clean combination of fruity-sweet, tangy, and creamy was pretty much perfect.
I’ve gussied up that basic idea—by macerating the fruit for some sauciness (for more about the magic of maceration, read this post), using raw sugar instead of brown for some crunch, and swapping whipped crème fraiche for the sour cream, for a pillowy texture. But to be honest, I’m not sure if I’ve improved it. Don’t get me wrong—this is damned delicious. But a big part of what was so stunning about mom’s version was its simplicity.
So know that if you don’t have time for maceration, you can skip it, and that you can use basic sour cream instead of high-fallutin’ whipped crème fraiche. (Don’t try to whip your sour cream, though—it won’t hold a peak like crème fraiche will.) Finally, use whatever kind of sugar you like—but something with color looks best against the white of the sour cream/crème fraiche.
- 4 cups bite-sized juicy fresh fruit, for example, berries, grapes, peaches, plums, or pears
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 cups crème fraiche
In a medium bowl, combine the fruit and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has softened and the mixture is syrupy, about an hour.
Using a hand or a stand mixer, whip the crème fraiche to stiff peaks.
Spoon about half of the fruit into serving glasses or bowls (parfait glasses, wine glasses, or cocktail glasses are ideal, so you can see the parfait’s layers) and top with half of the whipped crème fraiche and 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Repeat and serve.