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A simple dessert idea — no foolin'
Newhouse News Service
Want a dessert that's easy, delivers a big payoff and has a great name? Try a fruit fool.
A fool is simply whipped cream folded together with a fruit puree to form a very light (though not in calories, I'm afraid) mousse.
Whether you cook the fruit first depends mostly on your preference. Just about everything can simply be whizzed up in a blender or food processor, sweetened a touch if necessary, and then it's ready to go. But you can bring in other flavorings and get a greater concentration of fruit flavor if you make a little compote with the fruit. Blueberries, for example, do very well when you cook them until the juices run and thicken a bit, and plums also gain depth of flavor when you cook them with a little sugar and maybe half a vanilla bean, a stick of cinnamon or other spices.
The cream can be plain whipped cream or a blend of other dairy. I generally flavor it with some vanilla, but I don't sweeten it — I let the fruit do the sweetening part so the cream flavor is a cool, clean contrast. I do like a bit of tang in the cream, however, which is why once the cream is whipped to soft peaks I sometimes stir in a bit of crème fraîche or sour cream; mascarpone would also be excellent. Those denser forms of cream contribute more body, so the fool will have just a bit more substance, which can be a good thing.
Whatever cream route you choose, be vigilant about the whipping: Don't overdo it. You need enough loft to give the dessert the needed body, but if you whip too much, you'll get a stiffer, "curdier" result that won't blend smoothly with the fruit puree. Know that the fool will set up a bit in the fridge as it chills.
You can serve a fool just as is — it's meant to be a pure and uncomplicated dessert — or you can add some textural contrast with a crisp butter cookie, a sprinkling of crystallized ginger, crushed amaretti cookie crumbs, even chocolate shavings.
And speaking of chocolate, I couldn't resist adding a chocolate-fool recipe. I keep seeing menus offering gelato "affogato," meaning with a shot of espresso poured over the top. I love the idea of adding a deep, bitter edge to the creamy mousse, but I drown mine in an espresso-chocolate syrup. Be sure to add the small pinch of salt to both the chocolate mousse and the espresso syrup. It won't taste salty, it'll just make the interplay of sweet, creamy, chocolaty and coffee-bitter much more exciting.
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