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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Berry Fool

The following recipe is one of the reasons that summer time is worse than Christmas time for me as far as the scale is concerned. We grow both strawberries and raspberries and often have an abundance. I find this recipe a bit fussier than many from Cook's Illustrated (I think it must be the removal of the berry seeds) but it is worth it to me. This is one of my three favorite summer desserts, all of which feature berries.

Almost any fruit may be made into a fool and apparently gooseberry fool is a favorite in Great Britain where this dessert originated.


Berry Fool

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated 
Serves 6-8

You'll need a total of 2 quarts strawberries and 1 pint raspberries. You can substitute blueberries and blackberries for the raspberries. You can also use frozen fruit but the texture will be different. If you do use frozen fruit, reduce the amount of sugar in the puree by 1 T. I would avoid strawberries that are frozen with sugar which would cause a sugar overdose.

For the fool:

1 quart strawberries (about 1 pd)
1/2 pint raspberries (about 6 oz)
1/2 c sugar (plus 4 T for the whipped cream)
2 teas unflavored powdered gelatin
2 c heavy cream
1/2 c sour cream
1 teas vanilla extract
digestive biscuits, graham crackers finely crushed, optional but very tasty

Wash and hull the strawberries and rinse the raspberries. Place them in a food processor (or good blender) with the sugar and process until the mixture is completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Strain the berry puree through a fine mesh strainer into a large measuring cup. You should have 2 1/2 cups puree; reserve any excess for another use. Transfer 1/2 c puree into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top; stir until the gelatin is incorporated and let stand at least 5 minutes. Heat the remaining 2 c puree in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to bubble in the middle. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until dissolved. Let cool and transfer to a refrigerator storage container and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours or up to 4 hours.

An hour before serving prepare the chopped berries:
1 quart strawberries
1/2 pint raspberries
2 T sugar

Chop the strawberries into rough 1/4-in. pieces. Toss the strawberries, raspberries, and the sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside to macerate for 1 hour. Drain through a strainer just before serving.

To finish the fool:

Place cream, sour cream, vanilla, and 4 T sugar in a chilled bowl. Beat on low speed until bubbles form. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until beaters leave a trail. Increase the speed to high and continue beating until the mixture has nearly doubled in volume and holds stiff peaks. Transfer roughly 1/2 c whipped cream mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

Remove the thickened berry puree from the refrigerator and stir to loosen. Add 2/3 of the puree to the cream mixture and mix until incorporated with the mixer or by hand. Using a spatula, gently fold in the remaining puree, leaving streaks.

Place a spoonful of drained berries in 6 tall parfait or sundae glasses. Top with a spoonful of the fool mixture. Repeat the layers and finish with a layer of berries on top. Finish with a tablespoon of the whipped-cream mixture on top.

One last thing: top the whole thing with some cracker crumbs. We find McVities digestive biscuits best for this but they may be hard to locate. The best place may be a foreign market or the internet.


This is my version of this recipe and it differs some from the Cook's Illustrated original recipe. I have doubled the amount of cream and sour cream because I like it better with less puree. If you want to try the original recipe, use 1 c heavy cream, 1/4 c sour cream, 2 T sugar and 1/2 teas vanilla. Because I use less of the puree, I'm sure I use more fruit.

Because there are only two of us here, I make the puree and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. I don't really measure how much I use to make two servings. I whip some cream with a dollop of sour cream and some sugar and mix in some puree until I like the looks of it and layer it up with macerated fruit. Even though it probably isn't exactly the same each time I serve it, it always tastes great.

Cook's Illustrated recommends using Carr's Whole Wheat Crackers for the cracker topping. I haven't been able to find them so I can't say if they are as good as digestive biscuits which are much better than graham crackers. But use graham crackers if you can't find biscuits. Or skip them altogether.

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