Berries and cream have been a thing as long cows and brambley hedges have roamed and rambled across the British countryside. “Fooles”–desserts of tart, sugared fruit (such as rasbperries), simmered, crushed and mixed with cream, were first mentioned in British texts in 1598, but some food historians think they may go back as far as the 15th century. In America, fools led the way to “fridge cakes” billowy fruit-mousse desserts with whimsical names like “marlowes” and “mallowbets” that emerged with the advent of the electrically powered refrigerator.
The Oxford English Dictionary gives no explanation why fools are called fools, but, since berries and cream are a stupidly happy combination, fool seems a fitting moniker.
Although traditionally prepared with gooseberries, (those puckery little green/maroon globes that look like tiny Chinese lanterns) I also love fools made with raspberries or wild strawberries. But you can use any or all tart berries as they come in season, and be fool-ish all summer long.
Today’s simplest fools don’t have to be cooked. They’re just a combination of whipped cream with crushed sweetened berries. But I like to stabilize my cream and serve my fools three ways in one dish: I place the finished fool in the bottom of the bowl, drizzle that with some of the macerated fruit syrup, and top all with a dollop of plain whipped cream and a fresh berry.
To give my fool a bit of body, I make a stabilized (gelatin added) whipped cream, which when combined with the mashed berries and chilled, firms up into a fluffy mousse.
This dessert is best served within a few hours of making it.
RASPBERRY FOOL (RASPBERRIES + CREAM)
- 3 pints (about six cups) fresh raspberries, picked through to remove any stems or leaves
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 ½ pints (3 cups) heavy cream
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons (1 envelope) unflavored powdered gelatin
- 2 Tablespoons tepid water
- 8 whole raspberries for garnish
1. In a large, non-reactive bowl, mix the berries with the sugar. Use the back of a spoon to smash the berries a bit to release some of the juices. Allow the berries and sugar to sit (macerate) for about ½ hour.
2. Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a standing mixer. When the bowl is very cold, pour the heavy cream and powdered sugar into the bowl and whip the cream until it just begins to hold soft peaks. Turn mixer off.
3. Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the water in small, microwaveable dish. Stir and allow to bloom for a minute. With the microwave on low heat (I used the thaw setting) melt the gelatin in water for a few ()3 to 5 scant seconds until the gelatin and water are a smooth liquid. Cool melted gelatin until just tepid.
4. With the mixer on low speed, pour the liquid gelatin into the whipped cream. Increase speed to high and whip just a bit more, about 30 seconds.
5. Remove and reserve 1 cup of the whipped cream into a piping bag to use as a garnish. Chill both portions of the stabilized whipped cream in the refrigerator.
6. While the whipped cream is chilling, smash the macerated berries a bit more, leaving some fruit pieces intact. Remove and reserve ½ cup of the berry mixture to use as a garnish.
7. Gently fold the remaining macerated berries into the remaining whipped cream. (At this point, you can either divide the fool into separate serving dishes, or, serve in one giant trifle bowl.) Chill fool for one hour. Remove from the fridge and right before serving, drizzle the fool with the reserved raspberry juice. Pipe dollops of the reserved whipped cream over this, and top with the whole raspberries. Devour : )