I debated what to call this recipe. I knew I couldn’t get away with calling it a parfait or a shortcake, because this berries and cream concoction is a dessert all its own. So, I finally settled on calling a spade a spade by giving it its traditional (yet unfortunate) name: a fruit “fool.” Yes my friends, I’d like to introduce you to the 4-ingredient summer fruit fool recipe you didn’t know you needed in your life. Stick with me, you’ll be glad you did.
Before we get into what exactly a fruit fool is, let’s talk about desserts at dinner parties. While I believe that offering something sweet to end a meal is always a good idea, when you’ve already dealt with appetizers, drinks, main course, and sides—dessert is a good opportunity to keep it simple.
Which is why this summer fruit fool is one of my dinner party go-to’s. Not only does it come together in less than 15 minutes, you can whip it up in advance and have it hanging out in the fridge well before guests arrive. Most importantly—it’s a true crowd-pleaser that people lose their minds over when they take their first bite. If you’re new to the world of fruit fool recipes, read on because once you start, you won’t be able to stop.
What exactly is a fruit fool?
A fruit fool is a traditional English dessert made by folding thick custard or whipped cream into stewed or macerated fruit. It can be made with just about any fruit you can think of: stewed apples in the fall, rhubarb and strawberries in spring, and even mango in the summertime. My favorite version is this cherries, blackberries, and raspberries combo—the sweet-tart fruit is a perfect complement to the cream.
My version of a fool appears similar to a trifle at first glance, since I layer some of the macerated berries with the cream mixture in individual glasses. However, a trifle usually includes cake as one of its layers, whereas a fool skips that step and keeps it simple with just berries and cream.
How to make a fool
Although traditional English fool recipes start with stewing the fruit, mine is a no-cook version. You simply macerate the fruit by combining with sugar and lemon juice to draw out the liquid and concentrate flavor. It creates a jammy compote that infuses the cream with all that juicy flavor.
Then, you fold the macerated fruit into heavy whipped cream. It’s up to you whether you keep folding until the color becomes more homogenous, or fold it just a few times to leave it streaky. I prefer the latter—the colors are so stunning when you can see the ribbons of fruit giving almost a marbleized effect. Either way, you want to serve it really chilled for a dessert that’s creamy and satisfying, but still feels right for a hot summer night.
A perfect summer dinner party dessert
Every year, I search for a simple, signature dessert to serve at dinner parties throughout the season. This summer, a fruit fool is my answer. Not only is it incredibly easy to make for a crowd, but the presentation feels festive enough for a party. I love to see the colorful layers of berries and cream in individual glasses, but for a different presentation, you could spoon it into a big trifle dish or a glass bowl. Add a serving spoon for guests to scoop out their portion, or go wild and give everyone an individual spoon to dig in, family style.
If you’d like to make this one ahead, the fruit and cream mixture holds up miraculously well for up to 24 hours in the fridge. Layer with macerated berries just before serving. Scroll on for the recipe, and if you make it, leave us a rating and let us know how it goes.
gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian
- 1 cup heavy cream
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 pound of berries or chopped fruit—I used a combination of thawed frozen cherries, fresh blackberries, and fresh raspberries
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Pour the cream into a mixing bowl, zest in the lemon, and pop in the fridge.
- Add the fruit to another mixing bowl (if using frozen pitted cherries, thaw them first, draining off some of the juice.) Add the lemon juice and sugar, then stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- Use a mixer to whip the cream just until firm peaks form. Give the berries a rough mash with a fork, then add 3/4 of them to the cream. Use a spatula to gently fold in the fruit—don't overfold, leave streaks!
- To each of 6 small glasses, add a few macerated berries, a couple big scoops of cream mixture, then top with a few more berries. Eat!
*Make ahead: The fruit and cream mixture will hold up to 24 hours in the fridge. Layer with macerated berries just before serving.
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