These individual strawberry shortcake parfaits are topped with lemon curd and vanilla mascarpone, and packed into mini mason jars, making them the perfect dessert for a summer picnic!
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So, who else loves dessert??! Lemon is one of my favorite flavors for dessert, right behind chocolate! And individual desserts are always high on my list of great ideas for parties and picnics so I decided to add a bit of a twist to a traditional strawberry shortcake by adding lemon curd and some vanilla mascarpone and then packing it into little mason jars. FUN!!
I made these in a jar because they are easy to transport – think summer picnics and backyard parties. Not to mention they look really cute when packed in these lovely little mason jars!!
This recipe includes a few less common ingredients but the end result is definitely worth an extra trip to the store! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flour: You need both cake flour and all-purpose flour.
- Raw sugar: You can substitute demerara sugar if you happen to have it in your pantry.
- Half and half: I don’t recommend substituting milk here but if you had to, whole milk would be the best option.
- Butter: Whenever possible, I use European-style butter for baking.
- Lemon zest + juice: You’ll need 1 to 2 lemons depending on the size.
- Eggs: The recipe assumes large eggs.
- Mascarpone: You can find this in most major grocery stores, usually in either the cheese or deli sections.
- Strawberries: A few strawberries is enough for this recipe.
- Pantry staples: salt, baking powder, sugar, honey, vanilla extract
Tips for making strawberry shortcake parfaits
This recipe really has three distinct parts: the shortcakes, the lemon curd and the vanilla mascarpone. Since the lemon curd needs to cool to fully set, I recommend starting with that step.
Lemon curd. Start by zesting and then juicing the lemons ahead of time, it’s very hard to zest after juicing! 🙂 Lemon curd starts by making lemon sugar. That gets whisked together with the lemon juice, egg and salt, and cooked over low heat. After the butter is added, everything is strained through a fine-mesh strainer. Then it goes into the refrigerator to set.
Meal prep tip: You can make the lemon curd and the vanilla mascarpone a day or two ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Shortcakes. These are pretty traditional, unstructured shortcakes. The ingredients go into a food processor for easy mixing. You want them to be a very light, golden brown so keep an eye on them due to oven temperature variations.
Vanilla mascarpone. The honey and vanilla extract give the mascarpone a little extra flavor boost.
Other Uses for Lemon Curd
If you are a regular blog reader you’ll notice that sometimes I make more of a specific recipe component than you’ll need for a particular recipe. This provides you with leftovers to add to other dishes and explore new flavor combinations! That’s what I’ve done with the lemon curd in this recipe. Usually, I do this because that part of the recipe requires an ingredient that is difficult to divide, like an egg. In this case, any leftover lemon curd would be lovely on these Cranberry Orange Scones or maybe drizzled on some sliced strawberries for an afternoon snack!
These make-ahead mini mason jar desserts are perfect for summer picnics or any time when a packable transportable dessert is needed! They are also a great idea if you want to have something unique on hand for dessert during the week.
Since they are served in a mason jar, these parfaits are ideal for a summer picnic or backyard party. For a complete menu, I’d add this Tortellini Pesto Pasta Salad or this Grilled Chicken Quinoa Salad, along with some Healthy Cowboy Caviar and some Melon, Proscuitto and Mozzarella Skewers.
More summer dessert recipes
things you may want for this recipe
Small mason jars – These mini mason jars are the perfect size for individual desserts and are also great for storing and transporting salad dressing and other sauces.
These individual strawberry shortcakes are topped with lemon curd and vanilla mascarpone, making them the perfect dessert for a summer picnic!
For the lemon curd:
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 4 tablespoons butter
For the shortcake:
- ¼ cup cake flour
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon demerara or raw sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup half and half
For the vanilla mascarpone:
- ½ cup mascarpone
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 ½ cups sliced strawberries
- ½ tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon Demerara or raw sugar
For the lemon curd:
- Combine the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl. Use a fork to mix together until fully incorporated.
- Add the sugar mixture, lemon juice, eggs and salt to a small saucepan and whisk together. Place saucepan over medium-low heat. Add butter and whisk constantly until thickened; about 5-6 minutes.
- Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain the lemon curd using the back of a large spoon to push the lemon curd through the strainer. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the lemon curd and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to cool and set.
For the shortcake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place flours, baking powder, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times until combined.
- Add butter and pulse until fully incorporated. A coarse mixture will form. With the motor running add the half and half and continue blending until a soft ball forms.
- Drop the dough in two equal parts on the baking sheet; flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool.
For the mascarpone:
- Mix the mascarpone, vanilla and honey in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Mix the lemon zest and raw sugar together. Set aside.
- Break the shortcakes into pieces and divide evenly between four small mason jars.
- Add a layer of sliced strawberries. Add approximately 2 tbsp of lemon curd to each jar, followed by approximately 2 tbsp of the mascarpone mixture.
- Sprinkle with a bit of the lemon sugar mixture and top with additional strawberries. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
If you refrigerate the jars before serving the shortcakes may get a bit soggy however they will taste just fine!
Keywords: summer dessert, mason jar dessert, individual strawberry shortcake
This post was originally published in August 2015. It was updated in May 2021 with some new information and photos. No changes were made to the original recipe.