Strawberries, I’m such a fool for you

I’m such a fool for youuuu. You’ve got me wrapped around your finger, ah, ha, ha. Do you have to? Do you have to let it linger?

Remember that song by The Cranberries? It’s one of those songs I used to call “pool songs” because I vividly remember hearing it in the summertime while at the pool, swimming with my brother and sister. Yay for it finally being summer!

Another of my most favorite summertime memories is, of course, related to food, as so many of my childhood memories are. I spent my summers in Northern Indiana at my grandparent’s lake house on Lake Wawasee and it was there that I learned to cook some of my favorite dishes from my mom and grandmother. One of those was blueberry fool- a creamy, whipped dessert stained blue by the summer fruit. It was a favorite of mine and I would eat it by the spoonful!

I always thought a dessert called a “fool” sounded silly, and only years later, when I wanted to make it on my own for college friends, did I learn what a “fool” actually was. A fool is an English dessert made by folding stewed fruit into custard. The name is thought to come from the French word fouler, which means “to crush”. In the end, this meaning was found to be baseless- who’s the fool now!

So, with summer memories coming in strong and the strawberry crop arriving hot on the scene at the farmers market, I decided to whip up a Strawberry Fool, although with a healthier twist than my mom wouldn’t have dared back in the day.

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Strawberry Fool– Serves 4-5

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar

Directions

  1. For the “custard”, you want all of your ingredients and equipment to be chilled and as cool as possible. The can of coconut milk should be chilled in the fridge overnight. Place your mixing bowl and mixing beaters in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When chilled, remove the coconut solids from the can and into the chilled bowl, careful to not spoon out any of the liquid. Any coconut liquid will affect the texture of our coconut “custard”. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat mixture until smooth. Quickly place mixture in fridge and let sit for the next few hours, or overnight (definitely overnight!), to stiffen. (This process was inspired by the brilliant vegan Chef Chloe)
  3. For the fruit, wash, hull, and halve strawberries. Place in a bowl and sprinkle sugar overtop the fruit. Let the fruit “give” their juices for the next ten minutes, stirring periodically. Mash with a fork to crush the fruit even more. You will want some chunks leftover, with a good amount of fruit syrup. Alternatively, you could blend half the stewed strawberries.
  4. Once the custard has set up, gently fold in the stewed fruit and serve immediately. Enjoy straight up with a spoon or serve over warm biscuits or slice of Angel food cake.

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In the end, not all recipes are a success, and in this case I felt a little like a fool myself for trying to dietitian-ize everything. Chef Chloe is definitely on to something with her coconut whipped cream, but I, however, did not have enough patience to let it stiffen overnight in the fridge. When I went to mix in the berry mash, the custard simply  couln’t support its weight and my fool turned into a thick, creamy soup insetad of a fluffy custard. I would recommend letting the coconut stiffen to its full potential, and I may even strain off some of the strawberry mash liquid before adding it in. Lesson learned! My fool turned out more as a flop, but I can tell you the flavors are still spot on. Maybe from now on I’ll stick to salads…

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My flopped, but tasty, Strawberry Fool with cocoa nibs

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