Some of the best desserts are the easiest to make, anyone who’s experienced a fool is aware of that. I’m not talking about a silly person, of course. I’m talking about a classic dessert that’s been enjoyed for centuries.
The name for a dessert called a “fool” is said to be derived from the French fouler, which means to mash. That seems logical, because a fool is a dessert where most often mashed fruit is combined with whipped cream and a few other tastes, depending on the recipe.
According to the Oxford Companion to Food, in olden days, when the ancient fear that fruit was unhealthy was still strong, it was customary to boil it to a pulp to make it “safe.”
Nowadays, fools are still made with cooked fruit, such as gooseberries and rhubarb, but also frequently with raw fruit, such as raspberries and strawberries, the latter being what I used.
I choose them because ripe, wonderful local strawberries are now in season. To make my fools, I sliced and mashed some of those berries with a little maple syrup and then folded them into a vanilla-flavoured whipped cream mixture that also had some thick yogurt in it. The yogurt adds a bit of tang to the dessert and a nice mouthfeel.
When the strawberry fool mixture is ready, you spoon it into attractive glasses and garnish it, creating a pretty, seasonal dessert to enjoy late spring/early summer.
In-season, ripe local strawberries star in this easy to make, rich and creamy dessert.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: none
Makes: four servings
1 1/2 cups sliced, ripe, fresh strawberries (divided)
1 tsp maple syrup (or honey)
1 (237 mL/1 cup) container whipping cream
2 Tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup thick Greek yogurt
4 whole strawberries, for garnish
Place one cup of the sliced strawberries and maple syrup (or honey) in a medium bowl and use potato masher to thoroughly crush them (see Eric’s options). Pour cream into a mixing bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer, and whip until soft peaks form. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat until medium peaks form. Now whip in the yogurt until just combined.
Add the mashed strawberries and use a spatula to fold them into the whipped cream mixture. Divide fool mixture between four (eight ounce or so) decorative glasses (see Eric’s options). Tent with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Fools can be made an hour or two before serving.
When ready to serve, uncover fools, top of each one with a few of the remaining sliced strawberries, hook a whole strawberry on the rim of each glass, as shown in the photo, and enjoy.
Eric’s options: For a boozy orange taste, replace the maple syrup (or honey) with orange liqueur. This recipe yields four generous portions. If you’d prefer smaller ones, divide the fool mixture between six smaller decorative glasses and garnish each one with a whole strawberry.
Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.