Pretty in Pink

May the record show that despite previous protestation, I honestly do have nothing against the union of strawberry and rhubarb. They’re a great couple who seem genuinely happy together, so who am I to break them up? Sure, it wouldn’t hurt for either to have a bit more alone time, maybe see a few other people on the side, but I won’t begrudge their magnetism to each other. Rather, it might be wiser to invite a new ingredient or two to the party in order to liven up the typical date night.

White chocolate cheesecake is the ideal sweet compliment to their tart, fruity flavor. Flecked with vanilla bean, lusciously rich and creamy, it seemed a shame to bake that base into a solid brick, so a simple parfait was in order. Crunchy graham cracker streusel makes up the base, lightly spiced with a touch of warm, comforting cinnamon, immediately followed by the rhubarb compote, infused with cardamom, ginger, and a hint of zesty orange. The real star of the show, the white chocolate cheesecake mousse, comes together in a snap, and is decadent enough to go well with just about any fruit or cookie combo. A dice of fresh strawberries on top keeps things light and refreshing, but it’s hard to resist one final flourish of mousse to top it all off.

It’s spring in a glass, complete with those star-crossed lovers strawberry and rhubarb, a delicious duo if there ever was one.

Spring Cheesecake Parfaits

Graham Cracker Streusel:

9 Rectangle Graham Crackers (1 Sleeve)
6 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine, Melted
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Rhubarb Compote:

1 1/2 Pounds Chopped Rhubarb, Divided
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom

White Chocolate Cheesecake Mousse:

6 Ounces Vegan White Chocolate, Homemade Chunks or Store-Bought Chips
1/4 Cup Vegan “Creamer”
2 8-Ounce Packages Vegan “Cream Cheese”
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract*
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 – 1 Pound Fresh Strawberries, Hulled and Diced

*I used my homemade white chocolate, which is what gave it those lovely vanilla bean specks. If you opt for the store-bought alternative, you may wish to use vanilla bean paste or 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped, for the same visual effect.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or a silpat; set aside.

Break up the graham crackers and toss the pieces into your food processor. Pulse until mostly broken down, with a few larger chunks remaining. Add in the melted margarine, cinnamon, and salt, and pulse to combine. Spread out the resulting crumbs into small clumps on your prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until golden brown. Let cool.

Meanwhile, you can get the compote started. Set a medium saucepan on the stove over moderate heat, and mix together 1 pound of the rhubarb along with the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture up to a simmer, and let the rhubarb stew for 10 – 15 minutes, until broken down and jammy. Add in the remaining measure of rhubarb, and simmer for an additional 5 – 10 minutes, just until tender. This will give the compote a nice variety of textures. Let cool and chill thoroughly before using.

Finally, for the cheesecake portion, place the chunks of chips of white chocolate in a microwave-safe dish, and pour the “creamer” on top. Microwave for 1 – 2 minutes at 30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly between each heating. White chocolate can be stubborn about melting, so be patient and keep a close eye on the mixture so that it doesn’t burn. Once it’s burnt, there’s no fixing it.

Place the “cream cheese,” vanilla extract, and salt in your (washed and dried) food processor, and blend to combine. Pour in the melted white chocolate, and thoroughly puree, until completely smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. If it seems to loose to pipe, chill for 30 minutes before proceeding.

To assemble your parfaits, find 6 – 8 matching glasses, and start with a spoonful or two of the streusel at the bottom. Top that with a good layer of the compote, and then pipe or spoon over a layer of the cheesecake mousse. Cover that with an even layer of diced strawberries, and if desired, finish with one final dollop of mousse. Garnish with halved strawberries and mint leaves for extra flair. Serve chilled.

Makes 6 – 8 Parfaits

Printable Recipe

31 thoughts on “Pretty in Pink

  1. I LOVE strawberry and rhubarb together in just about any form and I think your recipe looks like a perfect way to showcase them. I’ll be making your recipe in late June when strawberries and rhubarb are available at the same time in Canada. Please note: I’ll be blaming you for any subsequent weight gain!

    1. Any sort of crisp vanilla wafer cookie could work as well. I’m not sure exactly what’s available over there, but worst comes to worst, I do have a recipe for homemade graham crackers in Vegan Desserts, too.

      1. Thanks! will give it a go!! I use your Sweet Vegan book a lot, but was recently delighted to see that you make the amigurimi animals too, which I’ve only recently discovered through pinterest. Vegan cooking and crochet – two amazing pastimes!

  2. I am jealous that you have rhubarb! I have been waiting its arrival in my grocery store so desperately.

  3. Just simply gorgeous!! You should consider adding a “pin it” button so readers can quickly pin your recipes to pinterest, because I know I pin a lot from your site b/c they r all so drool worthy…this is definitely getting pinned.

  4. I’ve become a big fan of rhubarb in savory dishes, but other than those I tend not to break up the rhubarb-strawberry eternal tryst either. But that white chocolate cheesecake filling looks worthy of a love affair.

  5. Mum and I used to often make parfaits when I was growing up with a mix of stewed rhubarb, sugared almonds, crushed amaretti biscuits, and thick custard, so I’m positive this creation of yours would be magnificent. And thank you for linking back to the homemade white chocolate; I can’t believe I forgot how much I wanted to make that!

  6. Oh Hannah, what a beautiful treat…love the layers and so nice presented…as always.
    Great picture…hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  7. Mmm lovely! I have some rhubarb left. No strawberries though as they’re pretty awful here at the moment. Not yet the right season but your dessert looks gorgeous!

  8. Pretty in pink indeed! These are gorgeous, actually. The rhubarb compote sounds like the perfect pairing with the white chocolate cheesecake mousse!

  9. I have some beautiful rhubarb that is just screaming for me to make it into this compote and make this dish. Nice to know that I can use vegan substitutes and serve it to my vegan friends too! Thanks for sharing!

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