Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Parfaits are the perfect no-bake dessert! There’s nothing better than sinking your spoon into layers of sweet berries, smooth cream and crunchy graham cracker crumbs laced with lemon curd!
Note: This post first appeared on April 19, 2012, after attending Pebble Beach Food & Wine. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.
Our return to food reality was a little rough. After a weekend with a wine glass that seemed to be permanently affixed to my right hand, delivering a constant iv drip of various elixirs, and meticulously prepared dishes in dainty small plate form, we came home to a house with no foie gras, no pork belly, and a refrigerator with a jug full of apple juice.
“What should we do for lunch?” my husband and I asked one another.
We found ourselves eating leftover cold pizza that we permitted the children to enjoy with the babysitter. And then we laughed at the disparity in food experiences.
It took me a little while to get back in my cooking groove. I have to admit, after Pebble Beach Food & Wine, I found it a bit defeating. How would my cooking ever compare? So I started off slowly. I believe omelets were my first dish to reentry.
But desserts were easier.
Many of the sweet offerings at the tastings were transformed into more portable form – easier for both creator and eater. Mini parfaits, if you will. So while I was not feeling up to baking that hunk of a cheesecake my husband has been craving, I realized I would do it grand-tasting style and make Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Parfaits.
Sweet macerated berries topped a velutinous whipped cream with cream cheese laced with fresh lemon curd. Crumbled cinnamon graham cracker cookies. Oh, you’ve got to dig your spoon into this.
Don’t worry, I’ve got my cooking groove back. After a spoonful of this, I will be just fine.
How to Make Cheesecake Parfaits
This no bake dessert is perfect when you’re craving a berry cheesecake without the fuss! The components can be made in advance, or whipped up earlier in the day, if you wish!
The longest part is waiting for the berries to macerate — to release all their juices. Don’t skimp here, you want the sugars to soak into the berries and get all saucy. A squeeze of lemon juice is all you need for acidity, but you can also use a balsamic vinegar for an even deeper flavor.
When it comes to the cheesecake flavors, simply whip heavy cream with a light cream cheese. I prefer the “Neufchâtel” style cream cheese, but regular cream cheese works well, too.
As for the lemon curd, feel free to use store-bought, but if you have an extra 15 minutes, I highly recommend you make it! If you haven’t tried my recipe for homemade lemon curd, now is the perfect time to try it (you’ll be so tempted to eat it by the spoonful on its own!) — did I mention lemon curd only takes 15 minutes to whip up?
Once you layer the components, you can even chill the parfaits in the refrigerator up to a day in advance…if you can wait!
More No Bake Desserts
Lemon-Berry Cheesecake Parfaits
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 cup raspberries frozen will work, too
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 oz 1/3 Less Fat cream cheese "Neufchâtel" style works beautifully
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
- 10-12 cinnamon graham crackers crushed into 1/2 inch pieces
- In a glass bowl, combine the strawberries, raspberries, sugar and lemon juice and stir well. Gently press the berries with a masher to release some juices. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours (or overnight).
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with a wire whisk, beat the heavy cream, cream cheese and confectioners sugar until it turns to stiff peaks. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until ready to assemble.
- When the berries have softened and released their juices, place about 3 tablespoons of berries and some juice in the bottom of 6 8-oz serving cups. Add 1/4 cup of whipped cream mixture to each and smooth the tops. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon curd and spread over top to the edges. Place about 2 tablespoons of crushed graham crackers on top. Repeat with another whipped cream, lemon curd and graham cracker layer. Top with one more layer of whipped cream mixture. If making ahead, cover each parfait glass with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator. This can be done up to one day ahead.
- Before serving, drizzle remaining berry sauce on top of each parfait.
- The berry layer is made by macerating berries — this process is done by soaking berries in sugar and liquid, in this case, lemon juice. You can also use balsamic vinegar for an even deeper flavor.
- For the cream filling, I prefer the “Neufchâtel” style cream cheese, but regular cream cheese works well, too.
- If you have a little extra time, try my easy recipe for homemade lemon curd.
- Can I make this in advance? Yes! The separate components can be made a day or two in advance. You can also assemble the parfait cups without the final drizzle of berries and refrigerate it up to a day before, but keep in mind the graham crackers may not be as crunchy.