We garnished these sophisticated (but easily prepared) desserts with chocolate shavings. To make your own garnish, use a knife or vegetable peeler to scrape a 4-ounce bar of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate into thin strips.
Whisk cream in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form; cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Combine espresso and brandy, if using, in a medium bowl. Break 4 ladyfingers in half; dip into espresso mixture until soaked but not falling apart, several seconds. Arrange two halves in a layer at the bottom of each parfait glass. Top with a scoop of ice cream. Repeat with another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and top with a scoop of ice cream. Garnish each glass with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve immediately.