Monday, June 6, 2011

Berry Fool

Sometimes the foods with the strangest names are the very best. And this fool is no exception. Fools are a great easy, light and refreshing dessert. They are also easily adaptable and can be made with a variety of fruits and berries. Cook's Illustrated had a recipe for berry fool in their Best-Ever Recipes issue and it fit in perfectly with a recent outdoor grilling dinner party. It's a little different from other fools that I've made because it has gelatin in the berry mixture. I was a little unsure about that, since I definitely did not want berry jello, but it really worked out nicely giving just the right amount of body to the berries and allowing the streaks of puree to remain distinct in the cream.

 When you have perfectly ripe fruit, you can easily decrease the amount of sugar you use to make this a semi healthy summer dessert. We eliminated the sugar entirely from the berry mixture, and loved the fresh, naturally juicy strawberries just by themselves. We are looking forward to trying it with peaches when our crop comes in, and whatever berries we can find at the farmer's markets around town. The recipe below is our take on the berry fool.

Berry Fool
adapted from Cook Illustrated

2 1/2  pounds strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Process half of the berries with 1/2 cup sugar in a food process until mixture is completely smooth. Strain berry puree through a fine mesh strainer. You should have 2 1/2 cups puree. Transfer 1/2 cup of puree to a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top and stir to incorporate. Let stand 5 minutes .

2. Heat the remaining puree in a sauce pan until it bubbles (4-6 minutes). Remove sauce pan from heat and stir in the gelatin puree, mixing until gelatin is dissolved. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

3. Chop the remaining strawberries into 1/4 inch pieces and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar set aside for 1 hour.  Our berries were sweet, so we did not add the sugar.

4. Whip together, heavy cream, sour cream, vanilla and 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form. Reserve about 1/3 cup for garnish. To remaining cream, whisk in the 2/3 of chilled berry puree until fully incorporated. Gently fold in remaining puree, leaving thick streaks of puree.

5. Assemble: drain uncooked diced berries to remove juice and divide 2/3 of the berries evenly among 6 individual serving dishes/glasses. Top with the creamy berry mixture, followed by remaining uncooked berries. Top each dish with reserved whipped cream. Chill until serving.