A fool, buckle, crumble, cobbler, grunt or slump, pandowdy, and a betty – just some of the centuries old desserts with funny names that have always intrigued me, and just the sound of them makes me smile. I think that the beauty of these tried and true recipes is that our ancestral home bakers simply made the most of what happened to be in season, probably a plentiful harvest, and created variations on a theme with ingredients that they had on hand, using different techniques. Here at Connecticut Country House, depending on what’s in season, we’ll take turns creating these historic and regional desserts. Starting today, I’m tackling a fool! A fool is an English 16th century dessert that is simply made up of crushed fruit folded into sweetened whipped cream. And with strawberries at their peak here in Connecticut, a strawberry fool sounds perfect for today.
16 ounces hulled and chopped strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
4-5 tablespoons of confectioners sugar
16 fluid ounces whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Sprinkle chopped strawberries with the teaspoon of sugar and mix. Let sit for a few minutes. Mash sweetened chopped strawberries with a fork (or I use my hands and work them like I’m working a meatloaf mixture) until soft and pulpy. Whip the cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in mashed strawberries until well incorporated. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop into glasses or small cups, and serve right away or chill. Garnish with fresh mint leaves (now also in season).
Creating servings in glasses or small cups is the most authentic way to enjoy a fool. But I think this fool recipe would also naturally make a fabulous cake or cupcake icing. So unbelievably simple and delicious – I have to go and lick the mixing bowl and spatula now. It’s no longer just the name that makes me smile. Yum.