Sophie Blackall is one of my favourite illustrators. I came across her thanks to her Missed Connections blog; illustrations to accompany people’s missed connections posts. Recently I’ve become interested in another one of her projects: a book she’s illustrating called A Fine Dessert. The book is about four families, throughout different time periods, as they each make and share a blackberry fool. According to Sophie’s blog, and in the words of the books’ author, “it is about the universality of the pleasure in cooking and eating dessert — how it goes through time and across cultures.”
Basically it’s the type of thing that makes me scrunch up my face and wave about my arms in the way that you do when so many of the things you love all come together in one big happy moment–kind of like when you introduce two friends from completely different groups and they get on so well and then you get so excited that all your worlds are coming together. Yep. That’s what it’s like. Desserts, food history, and Sophie Blackall’s illustrations. Three things I’m pretty fond of.
So today I decided to make a fool. Not a blackberry fool like in the book, but a raspberry fool because I’m lazy and found it easier to pick up a bag of frozen raspberries from the shops.
Apparently gooseberries are actually one of the most traditional fruits to use. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a gooseberry before, so I’m not familiar with the taste. You mash the fruit with a fork, and then pass it through a sieve. Some recipes call for you to cook the fruit, others forgo the sieve. I find sieving fruit puree strangely satisfying, so I put mine to good use.
You whip up the cream, and then fold it through the fruit puree. I read there there should still be streaks of white showing through. I found the cream to raspberry ratio was a little off. Perhaps it’s my fault for buying subpar raspberries, or maybe I should have just used more of them. It’s funny that the fool is actually quite similar to the Eton mess, but the addition of meringue and actual fruit pieces make the Eton mess a winner in my eyes.
It wasn’t a wild success, but there’s still something that captivates me. It might just be the name, but there’s something very whimsical about a fool. A few recipes use custard instead of cream and others include a lot more fruit. Perhaps with a little more experimentation I’ll end up with something we all love. I’d love to hear if you’ve got a favourite fool recipe.