what a fool!

October 7th, 2010

I’ll gladly suffer a fool when the fool is a dessert – gobs of fresh whipped cream streaked with bright fruit puree.  Folks and fools alike have enjoyed this heavenly concoction since the 14th century, although they took more pains with it back then.  From an Elizabethan recipe book comes these quaint instructions:

Take a Pint and an half of berries clean picked from the stalks, put them into a Skillet with a Pint and half of fair Water, scald them till they be very tender, then bruise them well in the Water, and boil them with a Pound and half of fine Sugar till it be of a good thickness, then put to it the Yolks of six Eggs and a Pint of Cream, with a Nutmeg quartered, stir these well together till you think they be enough, over a slow fire, and put it into a Dish, and when it is cold, eat it. 

A modern fool needs only a dash of sweetener and omits the egg yolks.  Recommended fruits include all varieties of berries, stewed stone fruits and even mango.  I always add a bit of crumbs to change up the texture – a crushed cookie or biscotti is nice especially when paired with an unexpected fresh herb; a hint of rosemary or mint or lavender.  Grab a big spoon and dally not all ye fool-loving provender sweetings!

Fruit Fool

Related Recipes

Raspberry Pecan Fool with Spice Crumbles

Serves six.

Cookie Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Raspberry Puree Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup honey

Fool Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole pecans
  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • fresh mint sprigs, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, molasses, sugar and egg in a bowl and mix well. Sift in remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove cookies to a rack and let cool. Reserve six cookies and coarsely chop enough cookies to measure 3 cups.


Mash raspberries with a fork and stir in honey.


Toast pecans in a 375 degree oven for 8 minutes. Cool and chop. Whip cream to soft peaks. Add sugar and continue whipping to firm peaks.

Assembly:  Fold puree and pecans into whipped cream, leaving generous streaks of cream.  Layer with cookie crumbles and a few whole raspberries in parfait glasses. Top with mint and a single cookie stuck into the side.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.