A chocolate parfait is perfect. Literally. The word parfait comes from the French, a direct translation of “perfect,” and is used as a widespread term to describe a kind of frozen dessert or layered confection. Traditionally, a French parfait is made with eggs, cream, and sugar syrup, which is frozen into a sweet pudding, but the American definition widens to any layered dessert, typically made up of pudding, fruit, whipped cream, ice cream, and even Jell-O! (I have, indeed, seen a savory barbecue parfait like Wikipedia describes in their article, and let me tell you, it is NOT pretty.) The chocolate parfait, then, can incorporate any of these elements, so long as one of them includes that rich, yummy chocolate flavor. One of my favorites as a kid was a chocolate pudding parfait with alternating bands of granola, chocolate and vanilla pudding, and whipped cream in a tall, clear glass, so you could see all the alternating layers of food as your spoon dipped into each one, like a culinary excavator!
And you can get that perfect parfait feeling once again at Scarpetta in the Meatpacking District. Run by chef Scott Conant (best known by me as a frequent judge on Food Network’s Chopped), Scarpetta is known for rustic, hearty Italian food with a high-quality edge, with such dishes as scallop carpaccio and huge cuts of baby goat and veal. Most people are too entranced (and filled!) by the appetizer, primi and entree menus to even take a look at Scarpetta’s desserts, but this review arms you with the knowledge that they make a mean chocolate and vanilla parfait. Perfect for the end of a hearty meal, their parfait isn’t overly sweet, helping to ease you down softly from that super filling meal. The chocolate is almost bitter, like baker’s chocolate, and it’s served with a coffee granita to heighten the bitterness. It also comes with a crunchy biscotti and a tiny hazelnut-flavored “milkshake” to wash it all down. Those chocolate parfaits you loved as a child finally meet your adult sensibilities.
355 W 14th St (between 8th Ave & Hudson St)
“There’s a cooling snifter of “chocolate and vanilla” parfait (flavored with hazelnuts) and a professionally constructed molten chocolate cake touched with burnt orange and made with high-grade Amadei chocolate from Italy.”–New York Magazine
“If you’re one of those people who usually skip dessert because it’s too sweet, try the chocolate & vanilla parfait. There are layers of milk and dark chocolate and vanilla pudding, offset by coffee gelee and coffee granita. Everything is creamy but just barely sweetened, almost like baker’s chocolate. And the coffee elements contribute a good bit of bitterness to the concoction, leaving an aftertaste on your tongue. Nibble on the crunchy biscotti and mild, thin hazelnut milkshake that accompany the parfait– they add a welcome bit of sweetness to the party.”–Examiner
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“For dessert–chocolate and vanilla parfait with a cookie crust, mini hazelnut milkshake and fresh biscotti. Almost like a mini tiramisu with a hazelnut shooter. The biscotti was perfect.”–Elvir C.
“Now, let me tell you about the dessert. I LOVE dessert. I do. If one could marry dessert I would. Again, I’m used to much more blue collar type places, so I skipped the fancy desserts and had the seemingly simple chocolate and vanilla parfait with hazelnut milkshake and biscotti. OH. MY. GOD. I don’t know what sorcery goes on in the kitchen but the parfait was ORGASMIC. SO delicious and creamy that I wanted to stick my fingers in the glass to get what was left on the sides but I don’t think my boss would have appreciated that. I want to marry this dessert. The portion was very generous and came with a little shot glass filled with hazelnut milkshake that was so good I wanted to ask for a pint of it. The shot glass was a tease!”–Trish M.
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