At the end of a good dinner, my kitchen is usually a disaster. It is true that I am not a tidy cook, but then, I’m not a tidy anything.
I just like to sit back and relax with my full belly and my Honey and leave the dishes for tomorrow. Or the next day. Or for my Honey. I mean, I cooked—right? We hash it out, settle in to read or watch TV, and then comes the question:
‘What’s for dessert?’
It’s not like I don’t know this is coming. It is the general order of things: breakfast, elevenses, lunch, happy hour, dinner, dessert. Just your basic standard six meals a day. Hm, perhaps this is why I tend to lose steam after dinner…
Since I never plan ahead for dessert, I like to know how to whip up something quick with just a few ingredients, and then pretend I had it in mind all along. Really not-trendy stuff works well for this strategy—crumble, brown betty, that kind of thing.
The fruit fool is a good example: it’s a homey English classic—fashionable last when Fanny Craddock graced the screen—that takes about five minutes and three ingredients to make, and can be altered depending on whatever fruit you’ve got in the house.
Fool is an old recipe; it dates back to Ye Olde Days of trifles and mincemeats and the like, back as far as the 15th century. Some say the name comes from the French fouler meaning to crush, though the people in Oxford who make the dictionaries don’t think that is the case. No matter.
All it is is whipped cream mixed with sweetened fruit puree. Really, that’s it. Larousse says two parts whipped cream to one part fruit, and I say listen to Larousse if you’re really into cream. Some (meaning me) prefer a fruitier version, in which case go 50/50. It’s still really rich, so you only need to eat a little to feel like you’ve had a treat.
Another thing I say is that even though it isn’t part of the original dish, it’s good to keep a small portion of your fruit whole, and include a few crushed cookies or other such crunchy item in your fool, since otherwise it is rather samey in the texture department. If you crush up some meringues to mix in you can call it a posh Mess.
Funny enough, this reminds me of a dessert my mother used to make, back in the ‘mix a can of this with a tub of that’ era of American cuisine. I don’t remember if it had a proper name or not, but it was a frozen yogurt pie, and Mom’s standard recipe for any potluck or covered dish-type function.
It went like this: take a store bought pre-cooked pie shell, fill it to the top with a mixture of two small pots of yogurt (fruity flavor of your choice!) and one tub of Cool Whip*, and freeze. Ta da! It was one of my favorites.
So you can try that one on your own for your next eighties party, but for now, here’s a damn fool:
Blueberry Ginger Fool
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, plus an additional 1/4 cup
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 T ginger brandy (or syrup from a jar of stem ginger)
2-3 ginger snap (or ginger nut) cookies
Let your blueberries (or whatever fruit you’re using) defrost. Take 1/2 cup of fruit, add one tablespoon of the sugar, then smash the berries up with the back of a fork until it’s mushy as you like. Add the brandy or ginger syrup and mix.
In a clean bowl, whip your cream to soft peaks, add the second tablespoon of sugar, and continue beating until you have stiff peaks.
Crush up the cookies with your hands (or the end of a jar, the back of a knife—whatever you have on hand) until they’re in small chunks and dump them into the bowl of whipped cream, reserving a few crumbs for garnish. Then add your fruit puree and the 1/4 cup of whole reserved berries into the cream as well. Here’s the easy part: just fold everything together with, say, 3-5 strokes of a rubber spatula. No more. Leave it looking streaky and messy.
Spoon the mix into your vessel of choice (preferably clear glass so you can see the pretty swirls of fruit and cream), top with a few spare berries and cookie crumbs, and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat.
*For my international friends, Cool Whip is fake whipped cream, bought in a tub, already whipped. It’s also what Stewie Griffin keeps saying in that episode of Family Guy, you know when he keeps pronouncing the ‘h’? Cool W-Hip.