fool (foohl) n. 1. a victim of a trick, etc. dupe. 2. a creamy and fruity dessert with strawberries.
A good while back, I received a forwarded e-mail about a man and his wife who were banned from Wal-Mart because of the retired husband’s impish antics during many of his wife’s shopping trips. The security camera captured each and every creative way he “occupied” himself while in the super center. Although there were twelve such documented events on the Don’t Come Around Here No More letter, there were a few stand-outs: randomly placing boxes of prophylactics in the carts of unsuspecting shoppers, trying to put a bag of M and M’s on layaway, hiding in a clothing rack and when people browsed through yelled, “Pick me! Pick me!” and setting all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute intervals.
I, however, am not prankster at heart. But, I do have a wicked side that I save for my older sister since she’s so much fun to tease and totally naïve when she’s about to be “punked,” which in turn makes it utterly irresistible. Wait, on second thought, I don’t just tease my sweet sister. There’s one other friend who is as equally gullible. Two, actually, if you count the one I convinced that my outdoor water fountain only worked by my clap-on/clap-off voice activation [clap, clap fountain on! clap, clap, fountain off!] that magically came on and went off with my command. Of course, it had nothing to do with Oz behind the curtain who plugged and unplugged it on cue. Hey! Hot dog! I guess I am a trickster. Anyway, I have some brilliant moments of complete and total sibling embarrassment that make me giggle to this day. I’ll give you a few shining examples. One of my favorite recurring scenes takes place in a crowded elevator. As soon as the doors close and I have a captive escalating audience, I’ll say something to my sister with complete seriousness like, “So, did the doctor say you’re no longer contagious or what?” She, of course, will give me that “I’m gonna kill you!” look but I press on. “What about the rash?” I’ll lower my voice and loudly whisper, “Must be hard to not be able to scratch it in public. You did wash your hands, right?” She’ll inhale deeply while closing her eyes, hoping that I would just go away. I’ll smile and nod to the crowd. And then, for some odd reason, it becomes a mass exodus and everyone but us hurriedly gets off on the very next floor. Go figure!
But, my absolute best performance happened at my parents’ hometown grocery store during a family reunion. We were picking up something for dinner and Annie called to get a vote on what everyone wanted. After she hung up, she snapped her phone closed and proceeded to put it back in her purse in the belly of the shopping cart. I slowly and methodically started to move the cart before she got too close – not enough for her to realize what I was doing, but just enough to keep it barely outside her reach. I’m chatting all the while for misdirection. I increased the speed incrementally, ever so slightly, and she quickened her pace, straining for the basket. I kept talking as I really amped up my speed. She was, at this point, sprinting to catch up with me with her arm outstretched, like an Olympic relay racer preparing to pass off the baton to the next runner. I couldn’t take anymore, so I finally stopped the cart, doubled over with laughter. She caught up, wide-eyed and out of breath, and said, “Hello?” Then, enlightenment. She stood there with a very “Mom” pose (arms angrily crossed, foot tapping). I was laughing so hard, mimicking her attempt to put her phone back in the moving cart, that I thought I’d get thrown out of the market for being so loud. It was hilarious. Well, it was hilarious to me. Her? Not so much. She occasionally tries to get me back for all my little jokes, but I’m the Master Blaster, so I see the train a-comin’. But she’s a good sport and knows that I tease her because I love her.
Now, down to the berry business. You see that dessert? Those creamy, fruity, layers of love in a pretty glass? That’s a Strawberry Fool. Puréed sweetened strawberries, brightened with a little lemon juice, thickened with gelatin then folded into dreamy whipped cream and blanketed between layers of more fresh strawberries. And about the name, you ask? Well, some say that it’s so easy to prepare, even a fool could make it. All kidding aside, this definitely should be in your dessert arsenal because it is some old-fashioned kind of good. No joke!
- 2 quarts strawberries, washed, dried, hulled
- For the purée:
- ½ cup sugar (plus 2 tablespoons more for the remaining strawberries)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- one envelope unflavored powdered gelatin
- For the cream:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine one quart of the strawberries, ½ cup sugar and lemon juice. Process until completely smooth. Pour ½ of the purée into a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin; stir to combine and allow to set for 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining purée over medium until it begins to bubble around the edges (this cold/hot technique is kin to jello making). Add to the gelatin mixture, stir to combine; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Chop the remaining quart of strawberries into ¼-inch pieces, place in a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar (depending on how sweet your berries are, you may need more or less sugar). Allow the berries to sit for 30 minutes.
- Make the cream: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream, sour cream, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds then increase the speed to medium and continue beating until it holds stiff peaks, being careful to not overbeat the cream. Reserve some of the cream (about ⅓ cup) for topping and set aside in a small bowl. Remove the purée from the fridge and whisk until smooth. Add ½ of the purée mixture to the whipped cream and mix until combined. Fold in the remaining purée with a rubber spatula, not completely incorporating the purée but rather leaving swirling streaks of purée. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:
Planning: Although this is a quick dessert to put together, the purée does need to firm up in the fridge for several hours, so plan accordingly. You can also swap out the strawberries for blueberries or blackberries.
Product Purity: You can find powdered gelatin, like Knox original Gelatine, in the baking sections or the “jello” section of your grocery store. Only use pure vanilla extract. Nielsen-Massey is the best.
Presentation: For a neat presentation, put the fruit cream in a pastry bag and pipe into your serving dish. Save a few strawberries to scatter on top with a dollop of whipped cream.