This Bird's Milk Cake Parfait features deliciously delicate mousse, covered with a thin layer of cacao jelly, which is then topped off with smooth whipping cream! To make it even tastier, my recipe tops off this delicious dessert with berries and shaved dark chocolate for the tastiest treat you'll ever have!
Bird's milk cake, also known as Ptichye Moloko in Russian, is a decadent dessert with a rich history that's popular in many post-Soviet states! Traditionally, it's a Russian soufflé cake that features sponge cake layers with custard buttercream.
My recipe has adapted it to the most delicious bird's milk cake parfaits with delicate mousse that you're going to absolutely fall in love with! It's a luxurious and incredibly tasty dessert that'll definitely impress your friends and family.
This dessert takes a bit more effort than some others, but the result is definitely worth it! The creamy custard filling is what really sets it apart. It's made from milk, sugar, cream, and gelatin, and whipped to perfection. It makes a sweet and creamy mousse that is light, fluffy, and seriously tasty!
If you're looking to impress your friends and family with a delicious and unique dessert, then bird's milk cake is a great choice. So let's give this recipe a try and indulge in the decadent and creamy goodness of bird's milk cake!
What is Bird's Milk Cake Parfaits?
Bird's milk cake is traditionally a light sponge cake that features layers of sponge cake filled with creamy custard buttercream and it's incredibly popular in Russia and Ukraine.
But today we're making this recipe with a twist and taking it to the next level! We're going to take the custard filling and turn it into a sweet and creamy parfait! Topped with rich cacao and fruit, this dessert is sure to please your eyes and your taste buds!
The name "bird's milk cake" comes from an old Slavic fairytale. In it, a princess is testing her potential suitors by sending them on errands. One of the errands consists of finding bird's milk, an exceptionally rare and valuable substance (that doesn't actually exist!). After one bite of these parfaits, you'll see why they're associated with something so rare!
Where Did Bird's Milk Cake Originate From?
While Ukrainians refer to this cake as Ptashyne Mokoloko, all Russians refer to it as Ptichye Moloko. In America, it has been translated as Bird's Milk, which means 'milk of birds.'
It all started in Poland where Jan Wedel invented Ptichye Moloko in 1930 as a souffle candy named Ptasie Mleczko. The sweets were so popular that they quickly spread all over the USSR!
Then, at Praga restaurant, Moscow confectioner Vladimir Guralnik turned this popular candy into a cake, and that's how bird's milk cake was invented. It was so well received that in the 1980s, Muscovites would line up outside Praga restaurant to buy this cake.
After you try this delicious chocolate confectionery, you'll know exactly why it's so popular all over Eastern Europe!
What Makes This Bird's Milk Cake Parfait Recipe Special?
This is, honestly, one of the most beautiful and decadent desserts you'll ever have! It's truly one of a kind, and my recipe will give you the best flavors ever. Here's what makes it so special:
Layered flavors: The different layers of flavor definitely make these bird's milk cake parfaits special. The rich cacao and fruit on top pair perfectly with the vanilla mousse on the bottom.
Creamy texture: Bird's milk cake parfait's texture is another thing that makes this recipe unique. The gelatin base makes it creamy and chewy while the toppings make it smooth and delicious.
Holiday worthy: These parfaits look amazing when they're done! Make some for the next special occasion or holiday and they're sure to impress all your guests!
What You Need to Make Bird's Milk Cake Parfaits at Home
All you need are some simple ingredients to make this East European favorite! Let's look at the ingredients in more detail:
For the Vanilla Mousse:
- Milk: First we'll need some milk for our bird's milk cake parfaits. Be sure to use whole milk, the extra fats really help give it a rich taste.
- Unflavored gelatin: We're going to use gelatin as the base of our mousse. It'll give you the perfect, delicate mousse texture that goes great with the cacao on top.
- Sour cream: Next we need a little sour cream for our parfaits. The slight tanginess gives a great contrast to the rest of the flavors and helps bring them out perfectly!
- Sugar: We'll also need some regular white granulated sugar that'll perfectly sweeten our parfaits to the right level.
- Whipping cream: Some heavy whipping cream is next on our list of ingredients. It will add a rich, buttery flavor to our mousse with the perfect amount of creaminess.
- Vanilla extract: A little vanilla will help balance out the richness of the heavy cream. It also adds a deliciously sweet flavor with the perfect aroma.
- Salt: The last mousse ingredient we'll need is some salt. Salt brings out the flavor of the other ingredients and balances some of the sweetness.
For the Cacao Topping:
- Whole milk: The first ingredient we'll need for the cacao is milk. It will give our parfait topping a smooth and velvety texture and great taste.
- Sugar: We're going to add some sugar to the cacao as well. Since we're using unsweetened cacao, it will help give our parfait topping the sweet taste it needs.
- Cacao powder: Next we'll use cacao powder to turn our gelatin into smooth and velvety chocolate. It's delicious, and it's also an antioxidant making it healthy for you and your family!
- Unflavored gelatin: We'll need unflavored gelatin for the base of our chocolate as well. It will soak up all the flavors and make a mouthwatering topping you're going to absolutely love.
- Vanilla extract: We can't go wrong with a little more vanilla! The sweet and subtle flavor really compliments the rich cacao to balance out all the flavors.
- Salt: Similar to the mousse above, salt will really bring out the other flavors of our cacao topping.
Bird's Milk Cake Parfait Decorations Ingredients:
- Whipping Cream: We're going to use some more heavy whipping cream to decorate our parfaits. When whipped, it will make a light and fluffy dollop of cream for the top.
- Sugar: We'll use a little more sugar in the decorations too. A bit more sweetness never hurt!
- Raspberries: These juicy berries are the perfect topper for our parfaits. Their slightly tart flavor is great with the other sweet flavors.
- Dark chocolate: Next we need just a little bit of dark chocolate to really bring the presentation together. Plus it adds flavor notes of nuts, coffee, vanilla, and more for the tastiest bird's milk cake parfaits ever!
- Fresh mint: Lastly we'll be garnishing our parfaits with some mint. Its cooling menthol flavor really compliments everything else and the color contrast is absolutely perfect!
How to Make Bird's Milk Cake Parfait (Step-by-Step)
Making these delicious bird's milk cake parfait is easier than you think! With only a few simple steps, you'll get a holiday-worthy dessert that everyone will love. Let's look at how to make it step by step:
How to Make Vanilla Mousse Base
To start, combine 2 packs of unflavored gelatin with milk. Whisk them together in a pot over medium heat until it begins to boil. As soon as it starts boiling, remove it from the heat. Set the pot aside and let it cool to just slightly warm.
While the milk gelatin is cooling, let's make the cream. Mix sugar and sour cream together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Continue mixing until they're well blended and the sugar dissolves.
Next, pour heavy whipping cream and mix just until it's well combined. Then add vanilla and salt and mix again for a few more minutes.
With the mixer on, slowly add the warm milk and gelatin mixture and mix for a few more minutes. The consistency should be pretty liquid (like buttermilk) but it will start to thicken as it cools.
How to Fill the Cake Parfait Cups with Vanilla Mousse Base
Immediately after mixing, pour 3.5 oz of the runny vanilla mousse into parfait cups. Place the parfait cups into the fridge to let the mousse cool and set.
How to Make Cacao Topping
Let's make our cacao topping next! In a small saucepan, combine milk, sugar, cacao, gelatin, vanilla, and salt.
Place it over high heat and bring everything to a boil while mixing continuously. The cacao topping should be smooth in texture. Once done, set it aside and let it cool to warm before topping the parfaits.
Note: To speed up the cooling process, place the saucepan into a large pan filled with cold water while whisking continuously to prevent lumps.
How to Layer Parfaits with Cacao Topping
Slowly pour the warm cacao topping onto the vanilla mousse base. Let the cups chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
How to Decorate Bird's Milk Cake Parfait
Finally, while the cacao topping is hardening, let's prepare the whipped cream topping.
Beat cold heavy whipping cream with powdered sugar until it thickens.
Using a Wilton 6B Tip, pipe a star on top of each parfait cup. Top the cream with the berries of your choice. Personally, I used raspberries this time for the perfect color contrast!
Place a fresh mint next to the berry, then shave some dark chocolate over each parfait using a potato peeler.
Allow the parfaits to chill for a couple more hours before serving. Your delicious Bird's Milk Cake Parfaits are ready to be served!
Recipe Variation Ideas for Bird's Milk Cake Parfait
Bird's milk cake parfaits are a delicious treat, but you can switch things up with some fun variations. Here are some ideas:
Fruits and Nuts: Add chopped walnuts or pecans to the mousse base, then top with your favorite fruits like strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, or even bananas.
Mousse Variation: You can change up the flavor of the mousse by adding in some almond extract, lemon extract, or even folding in some fruit puree!
Different toppings: Another idea is to drizzle some light syrup, condensed milk, or caramel sauce, or add a dollop of cool whip on top of your tasty parfaits.
Extra chocolate: You can even switch up the cacao topping for some chocolate ganache or chocolate glaze if you like. Or add some chocolate chips on top for some extra chocolate goodness!
How to Store Leftover Bird's Milk Cake Parfait
Leftover parfaits can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Make sure to cover them with plastic wrap or put them into airtight containers. I don't recommend freezing these delicious treats as it will greatly alter the texture of all the layers.
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Classic Bird's Milk Cake Parfait Recipe (Ptichye Moloko)
Bird's Milk Parfaits Vanilla Mousse Base Ingredients
- 1 ½ cups – organic whole milk
- 2 envelopes (.5 oz.) – unflavored gelatin
- 24 oz. – organic sour cream
- 1 cup – organic sugar
- 16 oz. – organic heavy whipping cream
- ½ tsp. – pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp. – sea salt
Bird's Milk Parfaits Cacao Topping Ingredients
- 1 ½ cup - organic whole milk
- ½ cup – organic sugar
- ½ cup – organic cacao
- 1 envelope – unflavored gelatin
- ½ tsp. – pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ tsp. – sea salt
Bird's Milk Parfaits Decorations Ingredients
- 1 cup - organic heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup - organic sugar
- Organic dark chocolate bar
How to Make Bird's Milk Parfaits Vanilla Mousse Base
- Start by combining 2 packs of unflavored gelatin with milk. Whisk together over high heat until it just begins to come to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to warm temperature before use.
- While the milk gelatin is cooling, start making the cream. In the bowl of an electric mixer mix together sugar and sour cream until well blended and sugar resolved.
- Pour heavy whipping cream and mix just until well combined. Then add vanilla and salt and mix again for a few more minutes.
- With the mixer on, slowly add the warm milk/gelatin mixture and mix for a few more minutes. The consistency should be pretty liquidy (like buttermilk) but it will start to thicken fast as it cools.
How to Fill the Parfait Cups with Vanilla Mousse Base
- Immediately pour 3.5 oz of the runny vanilla mousse into parfait cups. Place the parfait cups into the fridge to cool and set.
How to Make Bird's Milk Parfaits Cacao Topping
- Next, in a small saucepan combine milk, sugar, cacao, gelatin, vanilla, and salt. Place over high heat and bring to a boil while mixing continuously. The cacao topping should be smooth in texture. Set it aside and let it cool to warm before topping parfaits.
How to Top the Bird's Milk with Cacao Topping
- Slowly pour the cacao topping onto the vanilla mousse base. Chill in the fridge for another 30 minutes or so.
Decorating Bird's Milk Parfaits Instructions
- Finally, while the cacao topping is hardening prepare the whipping cream topping.
- Beat cold heavy cream with powdered sugar just until thickens.
- Pipe a star on top of each parfait cups. Top the cream with berries (I used raspberries this time for color contrast), place a fresh mint next to the berry, and shave some dark chocolate over each parfait using a potato peeler.
- Chill parfaits for a couple of hours before serving.
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