Fool – a deceptively delicious English dessert – is one of my favorites. It’s easy, so tasty, and can be made with Upper Valley ingredients. When served in clear serving dishes, it’s stunning enough for a party.
Here is the recipe-less version: swirl together equal parts whipped cream and slightly sweetened berry puree. You can cook the berries before pureeing or puree them raw. You can strain out the seeds or leave them in. You can sweeten the cream, add yogurt or mascarpone, or leave it plain. Try different berries or fruit.
If you want a recipe, here’s one for blueberry fool. You can find all of the major ingredients at farmers’ markets or farm stands here in the Upper Valley.
Adapted from English Chef Nigel Slater
2 cups (= 1 pint/1 pound) blueberries, retain a handful for a garnish
3 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup or to taste
¾ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup whole milk yogurt (Greek or regular)
A squeeze of lemon, a pinch of salt, and a drop of vanilla extract (OPTIONAL)
1. In a small pan over low heat, simmer the berries and sugar or maple with a scant spoonful of water for about 10 minutes until they burst and the juice begins to evaporate.
2. Either crush berries with a fork, pass them through a sieve, or puree them.
3. Let it cool, so the puree doesn’t melt the whipped cream.
4. Once cool, adjust the sweetness and add a few drops of lemon juice, vanilla, and a pinch of salt if it needs a boost of flavor.
5. Whip the cream into thick, soft peaks.
6. Stir the yogurt until smooth.
7. Fold the yogurt into the whipped cream.
8. Then swirl the blueberry sauce into the cream mixture, so it’s nice and marbled. Spoon into a clear serving bowl or into individual cups.
9. Ideally, let it chill for an hour before serving.
10. Garnish with whole berries. I like mine topped with something crunchy, too, like crushed amaretti cookies.
RASPBERRY: Red or black raspberry fool is amazing. Whether the berries are cooked or left raw, push the puree through a sieve to remove the seeds for an optimal eating experience.
Try a combination of blueberries and raspberries. Keep them separate for purple and red swirls, or combine them as one puree.
For both raspberry and blueberry fool, it’s nice to leave a handful of the berries whole, either for garnish or to mix in with the puree.
RHUBARB: Cook chopped rhubarb with sugar into a sauce and either use as is or puree. Try a combination of strawberry and rhubarb – yum! Use our strawberry-rhubarb sauce recipe.
GOOSEBERRY: These are the traditional berry used in England for making fools. Give it a try if you can find them. Here’s the BBC’s recipe and a useful translation from British English: caster sugar = granulated sugar, icing sugar = confectioners’ sugar, and double cream = whipping cream.
RED or BLACK CURRANT: These are best cooked rather than used raw, and they require more sugar than do blueberries or raspberries because they’re sour and strong tasting. I like their weird piney taste, but some people hate it – to play it safe in a crowd, mix currants with other berries.
A note about currants and gooseberries: Do you wonder why you suddenly see gooseberries and black or red currants and why you never heard much about them before? They’re coming into vogue in the U.S. after a long ban was lifted on their cultivation due to a pest these berry cousins carry that allegedly threatens pine trees. Both have been long enjoyed in other parts of the world. Gooseberries are native to Europe, parts of Asia, and northern Africa. And currants are common in jellies and desserts in Northern Europe. My Danish great-grandmother – apparently a recurring character in my food blogs – passed down her recipe for rødgrød med fløde, which means “red berry porridge with cream” and is usually made with red currants.
– Bethany Fleishman
Photo Credit: Julia A. Reed