The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Fool for April Fool's Day?

Strawberry Fool from a Strawberry Tea in 2008.
A "fool" is a traditional dessert -- related to a trifle -- that seems to be neglected these days, at least in my part of the world. Usually, the closest I get to enjoying a fruit fool is having fruit with whipped cream for dessert. But really, that's basically what a fool is! Older recipes have you mixing fruit and spices with alcohol and then adding milk straight from the cow into the bowl, after which you cover the bowl and let the mixture sit for an hour. The result seems to be like a combination of clotted cream and a fruit-flavored mixed drink.
The simplest version involves fresh or stewed fruit, crushed or pureed, sweetened, and folded into whipped cream. Berries are especially nice for making fools. Here is the modern recipe that I used -- with strawberries from the farmer's market -- to make Strawberry Fool for my tea guild's Strawberry Tea last summer. Note: I whipped the cream by hand because I don't have a mixer. My arm still aches!

Raspberry Fool
A fool is the simplest of desserts -- just whole or pureed fruit folded into whipped cream.
18 oz. raspberries (about 4 1/2 cups, see Notes)
1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur (optional)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Mash 3 cups of the berries, and combine in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the liqueur, and set aside. In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the fruit mixture into the cream with a spatula. Divide the fool between 8 glasses or bowls, and garnish with remaining berries. Serve right away or refrigerate, covered, up to 2 hours. Makes: 8 servings. Notes: frozen berries are fine here; use 12 oz. berries and garnish with fresh mint leaves instead of fresh berries.
-- From the June 2008 _Sunset_ magazine.

Here is a recipe for a similar-sounding dessert, from America, this time.
Red Currant, or Pink Cream:
Squeeze three quarters of a pint of juice from red currants when full ripe, add to it rather more than a quarter of a pound of pounded loaf sugar, and the juice of one lemon; stir it into a pint and a half of cream, and whisk it till quite thick. Serve it in a glass dish, or in jelly glasses. It may be made with currant jelly, which mix with the lemon juice and sugar. Raspberry and strawberry cream may be made in the same way.
-- From Early American Cookery: "The Good Housekeeper," 1841 by Sarah Josepha Hale.

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)