October 19, 2011

Jam Sessions: The Fool

Strawberry Fool, for Jams by Mags

One of my all time favorite desserts is The Fool.  It's elegance belies the incredibly simple technique; it's perfectly at home at the close of a fancy dinner party, or a casual mid-week supper.

The Fool is a traditional British dessert (pudding) made with fresh berries and whipped cream.  You simply heat half your berries over a low heat, till they start to burst, then mix them into stiffly whipped (and slightly sweetened) cream, adding a light cookie to the mix, too.  But fresh berries are only available for a short time of the year, so I have adapted the recipe for year-round enjoyment by using jam instead of fresh berries.

Heat up your jam in a little pot, and let it liquefy a bit.  I always add a little wine or juice (not citrus), too.  When it has started to liquefy, take it off the heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl.  Whip one pint of whipping cream into stiff peaks, adding 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar when it thickens slightly.  If adding flavoring, fold in as well.

By the time you have stiff peaks, the jam should be cool enough to fold into the whipped cream.  I like to serve it as a parfait: put some extra jam in the bottom of a glass bowl (or jar!).  Then add a dollop of the Fool. Sprinkle a couple large crumbles of store-bought meringues.  Top with another dollop of fool, and drizzle some more jam on top.  For an elegant finish, add a few shavings of chocolate.  For a playful finish, add sprinkles! (If some fruit is in season, then be sure to add it to the fool, too! Dried fruit works well, too.)

Here are some of my favorite flavor combinations:
Strawberry jam with vanilla whipped cream
Peach jam with cinnamon whipped cream
Blackberry Jam with vanilla whipped cream
Pear Jam (coming in November) with chocolate whipped cream
Apple Butter with maple whipped cream and ginger snaps
Plum Jam with Amaretto and plain whipped cream  (add biscotti, too!)
Cherry Preserves with candied ginger and vanilla whipped cream.

Nancy Silverton's secret to perfect whipped cream
Mark Bittman's Strawberry Fool Minimalist Video
Other Jam Sessions recipes.

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