I have a thing for individual desserts. I love mini cheesecakes and little individual meringue nests and very, very rarely will I make one large pie or cake. It could be my love of small things, or the fact that I think anything in miniature is hilarious and adorable, but if I were to be completely honest, the main reason is probably that I never, ever have room in my fridge for one huge dessert. It just doesn’t happen.
My fridge is tiny – and full – all the time. It’s much easier to find little nooks and crannies to squeeze 8 little parfait jars – you know, amongst the pickles and jams – than to find a huge space to put one ginormous cheesecake. The two gallons of milk, big bucket of bread dough, a dozen different kinds of mustard and 30+ containers of Chobanis take priority over room for a big layer cake.
This is just one of the many reasons why I needed to make these little Banana Coconut Cream Parfaits. I also had fruit desserts on the brain but was craving something creamy and decadent. These Banana Coconut Cream Parfaits totally hit the spot and they’re a twist on a classic childhood favorite of mine: banana pudding. They’re rich and creamy with a hint of coconut to add a tropical note. Plus, I love the idea of a childhood remake.
Instead of using a boxed pudding mix (not that I don’t often turn to them myself) these creamy little treats are made with a mixture of ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese and coconut milk. The ricotta and cottage cheese keep the dessert from being overly sweet and create an almost tiramisu-like flavor, while the vanilla wafers keep the dessert classic and nostalgic. And, having built them in small mason jars with lids, they fit perfectly into my fridge. I’m not sure what I did before mason jars came into my life, but hopefully, I’ll never be forced to remember. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have one more of these little parfaits hiding amongst the BBQ sauce.
Banana Coconut Cream Parfaits
- 1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 cup of fat free cottage cheese
- 4 oz Neufchatel cheese, slightly softened
- 2/3 cup of canned coconut milk (see note below)
- 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar (plus more if needed)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 2 large bananas, sliced into 24 slices each
- 1/2 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut, toasted
- 15 vanilla wafers, crushed into crumbs
- To the bowl of a food processor, add ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, Neufchatel cheese and thick coconut milk. Process on high, until mixture is very smooth (could take up to 2 minutes). Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and pulse until incorporated. Taste filling and add a bit more confectioner’s sugar to adjust to your taste (optional).
- Have all of your ingredients out so that you can assemble the parfaits easily. Gather 8 parfait containers. I used ½ pint mason jars because I love having lids for each parfait, but feel free to use any 6-8oz dishes you like.
- Line the bottom of each parfait dish with 3 banana slices. Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of cream filling mixture over the banana slices and top cream mixture with 1 tablespoon of cookie crumbs and ½ Tablespoon of toasted coconut. Repeat the layering with 3 banana slices, 2 Tablespoons of cream filling mixture, 2 Tablespoons of cookie crumbs and ½ Tablespoon of toasted coconut. This layer should finish the remaining ingredients.
- Place lids on the jars (or cover dishes with plastic wrap) and chill for about 3 hours or overnight. This allows the cookie crumbs to soften and the flavors to blend together. Leftover parfaits can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Be sure to use full fat canned coconut milk. To help separate the thickest part of the coconut milk (the cream) place the can in the fridge for an hour or so to help the cream thicken and rise to the top. Open the can carefully as to not disturb the cream. Use a spoon to scoop out 2/3 a cup of the thickest part of the canned milk. It’s okay if a bit of the thin stuff gets in. It helps keeps the filling thick and rich if you can use mostly the thick coconut cream.
Recipe adapted from Everyday FoodAll images and text ©
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