Berries and cream have been a happy pairing as long as cows and brambly hedges have rambled together across the countryside. “Fools”—desserts of tart, sugared fruit, crushed and mixed with cream, were first mentioned in British texts in 1598, but some food historians believe 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 “Marlow” and “Mallobet” that followed the advent of the electrically- powered refrigerator.
Although traditionally prepared with gooseberries (those puckery little green/maroon globes that look like tiny Chinese lanterns), fools can also be made with raspberries, wild strawberries, or any tart berries as they come in season. This allows you to be fool-ish all summer long.
No cooking required, this modern-day fool recipe is simply a combination of stabilized whipped cream with crushed sweetened berries. Stabilizing the cream gives the dessert a little staying power: When combined with the macerated fruit and chilled, it firms up into a lovely fluffy mousse. To serve, place the finished fool in the bottom of a pretty bowl, or in individual parfait glasses, drizzle with some of the macerated fruit syrup, and top with a dollop of plain whipped cream and a fresh berry.
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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
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 rest (macerate) for about ½ hour.
Chill the bowl and whisk attachment of a standing mixer. When the bowl is very cold, add the heavy cream. Sift powdered sugar over the cream; whip the cream until it just begins to hold soft peaks. Turn mixer off.
Sprinkle the gelatin powder over 2 tablespoons of tepid water in a small, microwaveable dish. Stir and allow to bloom for a minute. With the microwave on low heat melt the gelatin in water for a few (3 to 5) seconds until the gelatin and water are a smooth liquid. Cool the melted gelatin until just tepid.
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.
Remove and reserve 1 cup of the whipped cream into a piping bag to use as a garnish. Chill both the bowl, and the piping bag of the stabilized whipped cream in the refrigerator.
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.
Gently fold the remaining macerated berries into the bowl of whipped cream. (At this point, you can either divide the fool into separate serving dishes or, spoon into one giant trifle bowl.) Chill fool for one hour. Remove from the refrigerator 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.