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Fruit fool is a classic English dessert. Traditionally, fools are made by folding a stewed fruit (the classic one is gooseberries) into a creamy, sweet custard. Sometimes the fruit is folded in until the dish is relatively homogenous, and sometimes it's more layered, so that you end up with swirls of concentrated fruit compote within the cream. Modern takes on a classic fruit fool incorporate any and all kinds of fruit, and the recipes usually skip the custard step and simply fold the fruit into whipped cream. Particularly for summer, choosing whipped cream over a heavier custard makes perfect sense: By incorporating juicy fresh fruit and serving it chilled, you've got a creamy but refreshing dessert that's cool enough to beat the heat.
Fools can be made with just about any kind of fruit, but vibrant sweet-tart fruit are ideal choices, in order to shine through the rich whipped cream. Here I've created three versions, perfect for the summer: Tangy Strawberry Fools make the most of bright, flavorful strawberries, Lemon-Blueberry Fools incorporate a zingy lemon curd and blueberry compote, and the Pineapple, Mango, and Toasted Coconut Fools will give you a taste of the tropics. All three are easy to make.
Though the easiest way to put these fools together might have been to fold chopped fresh fruit into whipped cream, I knew that wouldn't yield the tastiest result. Fresh fruit, though juicy, is full of water. So I kept with tradition and cooked each fruit in order to simmer off the extra water and concentrate its flavor. After thoroughly chilling it down, I used this jammy compote as the base for the whipped cream. To add a fresher fruit element to the fool, though, I also folded in chopped fresh or macerated fruit (depending on the recipe), as well. Maceration, the process of combining sugar and fruit to draw out liquid and concentrate flavor, is a quick and easy process that works here to lend a pleasant textural contrast to the stewed components.
Still, I was missing the rich body that only a custard can offer. Folding a small amount of Greek yogurt into the whipped cream did the trick. The thick consistency of the yogurt adds the fuller mouthfeel that I was looking for without being too heavy, while the tanginess of the yogurt complements the sweet-tart fruit perfectly.
Though fools can be served in a great big bowl (which I heartily endorse), I dressed up my versions by assembling them in individual dessert glasses. By alternating the cream with the vivid fresh and/or cooked fruit, these little fruit fools are as gorgeous to look at as they are delicious to eat.
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