Make the strawberry-balsamic sauce
In a large frying pan, combine the vinegar and sugar over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring, until syrupy, about 1 minute or so once it’s come to a simmer. Watch out for the vinegar fumes, which can be startlingly potent! Add the berries and simmer, stirring gently, until they start to collapse and the juices are running but the berries have not turned to mush, 6 to 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the vanilla and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You want a balance that is fruity and sweet, with just an intriguing edge of vinegar. Chill until cold.
Make the parfait
Have ready six parfait glasses or wineglasses.
Set aside about 1/2 cup of the sauce. Scrape the remaining sauce into a food processor and pulse until the berries are crushed. (I like to leave some texture to the berries, but you can pulse until smooth, too.)
In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the cream, goat cheese, sugar, and salt on medium-low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form when the beaters are lifted (don’t forget to stop the mixer before lifting), about 2 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and the processed sauce and, using a rubber spatula, fold just until blended. (The mixture can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.)
Spoon about 3-1/2 Tbs. of the cream mixture into each glass. Top with about 3 Tbs. of the cookie crumbs. Spread about 3-1/2 Tbs. of the cream mixture over the cookie crumbs in each glass. Top with the remaining crumbs and then with the remaining cream mixture.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 3 hours (the cookie crumbs will soften a bit). Top with the strawberry halves just before serving.
Make Ahead Tips
The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
The sauce can be folded together with the goat cheese-cream mixture 1 day ahead, and refrigerated, covered.
Photo: Ellen Silverman