Last year around this time, I mentioned the idea of using tart plums as a stand-in for the sourness of lemon in various dishes.
I’m back at it this season with these dreamy Yellow Plum Cheesecake Parfaits. They consist of a ginger cookie base, ricotta-based cheesecake filling, a plum and Goji berry compote, and are then topped with a few extra crumbles of ginger cookie for added texture.
They look impressive but like all of my recipes, they’re easy to make: just assemble the components, layer and serve! This is a great little summer dessert because it’s easy (and even benefits) from being made ahead of time.
You can make and bake the cookies, and while they’re cooling, cook the compote and refrigerate it (it’ll thicken and be perfect for this). Then, when you’re ready to serve this to your special guests, you can quickly whip up the creamy ricotta filling, which takes only a few minutes.
I used this fabulous Chocolate Chip Ginger Snap Cookie recipe, which is a favourite of mine from the Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE) program. I made the ginger cookies with buckwheat flour and left out the chocolate chips for this use.
These Yellow Plum & Ginger Cheesecake Parfaits are gluten-free, nut-free, corn-free and soy-free as I have made them (but this could change if you use a different ginger cookie recipe!).
They can be made egg-free using a flax or chia seed as the egg substitute. To make a chia or flax egg, simply stir 1 Tbsp ground flax or chia seed with 3 Tbsp water and let sit until it gels.
These cheesecake parfaits are not, however, dairy-free so if you follow a dairy-free diet, please avert your eyes for this one. Although I eat dairy products only in very limited quantities, I tend to tolerate dairy well so for me this is an opportunity to add some extra protein to a dessert.
I recommend using full-fat, organic ricotta in this recipe and in fact I almost never recommend low-fat products of any kind to my clients. For one thing, some of the valuable nutrients in dairy products such as vitamins A and D are fat-soluble, which means they require fat in order to be properly absorbed in our intestinal tracts.
Second, many people eat low-fat dairy for weight loss thinking low fat = better weight loss. In many ways, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
This 2013 research review reported that “in 11 of 16 studies, high-fat dairy intake was inversely associated with measures of adiposity“, or in other words, that in fact the opposite was true: the consumption of full-fat dairy products was associated with a lower body weight.
The study also reported that “the observational evidence does not support the hypothesis that dairy fat or high-fat dairy foods contribute to obesity or cardiometabolic risk.” One of the reasons for this could be because producers of low-fat dairy products often remove the much-maligned fat and replace it with added sugar in order to preserve flavours that consumers will find palatable.
On its own, with no doctoring of additional sugar or other ingredients, low fat often equals low flavour (though you’re welcome to try and prove me wrong!)
When you choose low-fat dairy over regular or whole milk-based products, you’re trading the healthier “whole food” fats that are naturally present in these foods for a more heavily processed version of that food, which could help you put on the fat faster than if you ate an equal amount of regular dairy.
Fat also plays a key role in helping us feel and remain full, and so low-fat dairy (with its added sugars) can trick our bodies with cravings, leading us to consume more calories to try and feel satiated because we don’t feel or remain full when we don’t eat enough healthy fats.
As for the question of organics, if you’re going to consume animal products, I think it’s important to choose organic whenever possible, especially since pesticides tend to concentrate in animal fats.
So, here’s the skinny on this full-fat and “good enough for company” summer dessert:
Yellow Plum Cheesecake Parfaits
For the cookie base:
- 2-3 ginger cookies
For the yellow plum compote:
- 2 cups small yellow plums about 20
- 3 Tbsp water
- ¼ cup Goji berries
- 2-4 Tbsp honey or more to taste once the compote has cooked down
For the cheesecake layer:
- 3/4 cup extra smooth organic ricotta
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp milk or almond milk
To make the yellow plum compote: Combine all of the compote ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until the plums begin to break down and the Goji berries have absorbed some of the liquid (they will swell).
Test for sweetness. Some yellow plums are VERY tart so you may want to sweeten this a bit more.
Set aside to cool or place in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
To make the cheesecake layer: Add the cheesecake ingredients to a small bowl and blend with a hand mixer for 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
To assemble the parfaits: Layer the ginger cookies (I used one cookie per glass, sliced into thin strips but crumbling them would be great too), then the cheesecake layer, and then the cooled yellow plum compote. Top with extra cookie crumble.
Refrigerate for 30 mins to set. Enjoy!
If making a parfait seems too daunting right now, you can always layer everything in a bowl for a super easy version of this sweet and sour dessert!
P.S. What’s your favourite way to enjoy plums?
Life is a plate… Eat up!