I am not often one for kitschy holiday desserts, but don't mistake that for boring. In fact, I use any government-mandated celebration I can as an excuse to whip up a new recipe. That said, I usually prefer to keep it simple. I don't want any glitter, fluorescent dyes, flames, sparklers, or God forbid, a Roman candle near my food. Is that too much to ask?
Take this mixed berry fool. It is the epitome of class. And while it may have originated in England, when layered parfait-style with streaks of red and blue, it looks pretty darn American to me!
I first became obsessed with these little "fools" last summer: I was a founding member of a local farmers market and wanted to create some easy recipes to showcase our bountiful produce. The market had just flooded with plump blueberries and sweet local honey; a pairing seemed inevitable. After a little online research, I discovered the "fool" and a new-to-me dessert was born. What exactly is a "fool" in the first place? Basically it's a rustic fruit sauce folded into freshly whipped cream. Sounds simple enough, but trust me when I tell you it is greater than the sum of its parts.
It has since become a regular on-the-fly meal finisher when time is ticking and the pantry is bare. Which doesn't mean it isn't the constant receiver of rave reviews! I served the patriotic beauties you see here for an early Fourth of July party and the compliments just kept on coming. After a big meal on a hot Southern night, its airiness was a welcome respite. As temperatures continue to climb, hopefully it will for you, too.
Mixed Berry Fool
For the blueberry sauce: 1 cup blueberries 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste 2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Pinch of lemon zest
For the strawberry sauce: 1 cup roughly chopped strawberries 2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste 2 tablespoons water 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Pinch of lemon zest
For the fool: 3 cups cold heavy whipping cream 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, or to taste 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract Assorted berries and crushed butter cookies, for garnish
For the blueberry sauce, combine blueberries, sugar, water, lemon juice, and zest in a small, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook until thickened and bubbly, about 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl. Cool the sauce to room temperature (in a water bath, if necessary).
For the strawberries sauce, combine strawberries, sugar, water, lemon juice, and zest in a small, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Cook until thickened and bubbly, about 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl. Mash the larger pieces of strawberry with a potato masher or fork. Cool the sauce to room temperature (in a water bath, if necessary).
For the fool, beat the heavy cream in a large bowl using an electric mixer until frothy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and continue mixing until gentle peaks begin to form. Be careful not to overbeat; you want the cream to hold its form but still be billowy and soft.
Spread a base of whipped cream into the bottom of an individual serving dish. Add a layer of blueberry sauce, followed by another layer of cream, followed by a layer of strawberry sauce. Add a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. Garnish with assorted berries and crushed butter cookies. (I used Danish butter cookies but shortbread would work well, too.) Continue with remaining dishes. Serve immediately, or chill for up to three hours. Side note: I prefer to swirl the sauces and whipped cream together before diving in!