Though the genesis of National Parfait Day is unclear, Nov. 25 is the time to celebrate this popular dish which, translated from the French, means “perfect.” The origin of parfait is relatively recent, according to, with a first reference made by a chef in 1894. The traditional preparation, which is made using a technique called saboyan, includes cream, egg, sugar, and syrup. Following the Parisian style, the resulting pureed custard may be plated in any number of ways and is not relegated to glass.

Though born in France, the parfait is now a world traveler. In fact, endless variations on this basic theme of a layered dish exist today. Most notably the British conception favors pate, while the American version generally includes yogurt as an ingredient and always (always!) is served in a stylish glass.

Click "view slideshow" for generally healthy recipes collected from various sources. Food, and the parfait in particular, is the most democratic of art forms, forever open to suggestion and eager for new invention. Once you understand the basics, let your imagination fly.