Food & Drinkrecipes

In the Kitchen With: Leela Cyd’s Orange Parfaits

by Kristina Gill

Parfaits fascinated me as a child. I loved being able to see the different layers in the tall, fancy glasses. It wasn’t until I started tinkering in the kitchen that I realized that there was no magic behind them at all, and they are one of the easiest desserts to make.  Photographer, Leela Cyd, whose grapefruit spritz we had on the Behind the Bar column last week, has shared her own Cara Cara Orange Parfait with us this week. Like her cocktail from last week, this one uses citrus, perfect for winter. 

About Leela: is a photographer, and writer based in Santa Barbara, CA. She also teaches photo workshops around the world, hosting one this summer in . Her greatest passions are traveling and cooking, so she often combines the two by creating food-related stories for magazines such as Kinfolk, Sweet Paul and Anthology. Leela has a cookbook of her very own she’s working on, published by Clarkson Potter, due out in Spring 2016.

See how to make Leela’s parfaits after the jump!




-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
-4 eggs
-1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 cup heavy whipping cream
-1/2 cup creme fraiche
-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
-pinch of salt
-2 cups of coarsely ground meringue and butter cookie crumbs
-candied orange peels (optional garnish)

For the curd:

Remove the zest from 2 oranges and mix it in the sugar with your hands, until a uniform mixture is made. Cream the butter and the orange zest/sugar mixture with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the orange juice and salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula to make sure everything is incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a medium sauce pan and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes, until texture is thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not overcook, as the whole thing can curdle. Remove from heat and let cool in refrigerator.

Whip the cream, creme fraiche, powdered sugar and pinch of salt until stiff peaks have formed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

To assemble:

Spoon a heaping tablespoon of curd into the bottom of 6 pretty, small glasses, then a heaping tablespoon of whipped cream, sprinkle with a tablespoon of cookie crumbs. Repeat layering process 3 times, until glasses are full of separate elements, top with a few cookie crumbs and the candied orange peel. Serve immediately.


Why Leela loves this recipe: I love this recipe because it is refreshing, oddly light (an oxymoron with all that whipped cream, I know) and a total textural odyssey. Each bite includes a bit of salty cookie, sweet orange curd and a slightly sour whipped cream. As a self-proclaimed chocolate nut, it’s rare that something fruity and creamy calls to me, but this combination of seasonal Cara Cara oranges and store-bought cookies drives me mad with glee. There’s something so fun about spooning a messy bite from a rather elegant glass — it’s all very fancy!


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