Warm Gooey Gut Feelings

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits
Can you believe it’s almost here? Are the looming holidays causing your anxiety to spike and your excitement to stir? Us too.

I love Christmas. LOVE it.  I live for that warm gooey feeling you get in your gut when you’re surrounded by good food and better people. I’m waiting, rather impatiently, for my 16 month old daughter to grasp the importance of the holiday. So far she’s cried in Santa’s face and tried to choke herself out with a strand of beaded garland – holiday spirit isn’t her forte just yet. Luckily what she lacks in spirit she makes up for in entertainment.


 Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

This is the first year we’ve decorated a tree with her, gone on evening walks to look at the neighbourhood lights as a family, read books about holiday giving and the importance of generosity, and flicked those twinkling lights that line our tiny tree and doorways on each afternoon as the daylight fades. Having her involved in all our traditions leading up to the big day is so special to us. I can’t wait to leave her notes from Santa like my parents did for us. It’s such a magic time for kids and I want her to feel that twinkle like I did.

We don’t entertain much at our place over the holidays (we entertain a lot the rest of the year so we don’t mind having our place to ourselves) but I do like to be ready on a whim if guests show up unexpectedly. Typically I keep a variety of cured meats, pickled things and cheese on hand since it’s easy to throw together a cheese and charcuterie board with little time to prepare. But I also like to have something special to serve visitors around the holidays. And while sweet things aren’t really my jam, I know my family and friends and husband love a sweet treat here and there. All the elements of this parfait can be done in advance and kept in the fridge for just the right time. The rich brownies draped in boozy vanilla cranberries and layered with real whipped cream might even be what Santa wants left out for him this year. With extra rum on the side please. Pass it on.

 Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits

Vanilla-Rum Cranberry Brownie Parfaits
makes 4 servings

This recipe calls for brownies to layer in your parfait. If you have the time, homemade will always taste better (my favourite is a recipe from Alice Medrich) but if not, a brownie mix that you’ve tried and like or from a local shop that you like would work as well.

We played with both the vanilla whipped cream and the limited edition holiday Dark Chocolate Caramel flavour. Both were incredible so use what you can find and what you like.

2 cups whole fresh cranberries
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
2 tbsp dark spiced rum
pinch sea salt
4 cups cubed brownies
1 can Gay Lea Real Whipped Cream in your favourite flavour

For the cranberries; In a small saucepot over medium-high heat, add the cranberries, water, sugar, vanilla bean and rum and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until berries have burst and their juices have evaporated to a jammy texture, about 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.

When ready to serve; Layer small tumblers or dessert dishes with a few cubed up brownie pieces, a large spoonful of the cranberries (feel free to warm slightly to loosen it up), and a thick layer of whipped cream. Repeat once more, saving a few bits of brownie for the top.

AND HEY! Before you go. If you like to win things, Gay Lea has a great campaign going on right now. You could win fresh cookies from their oven to your tummy. Click the photo below for all the details. Happy holidays!

Disclaimer: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with Gay Lea, and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.