In the American usage, it’s a layered dish, served in a tall glass, so the layers are visible.
- A yogurt parfait is usually layers of yogurt, fruit, and granola
- An ice cream parfait is ice cream, fruit, and whipped cream
In France, there’s another usage for a frozen custard dessert (no layering).
It’s the French word for “perfect.”
Why I Looked It Up
My wife and I were having brunch. She ordered a yogurt parfait, and said the counter staff always looks at her funny when she calls it that. What she was eating was yogurt in a bowl with fruit and granola.
So, we looked it up, and it turns out it’s not a “parfait” in a strict sense, because there was no layering – it was just yogurt in a a bowl with some other stuff. Layer it and put it in a tall glass, and it would have been a parfait.