Edward and I spent last week’s bank holiday weekend near Aberystwyth on the west coast of Wales, the land the sun forgot. It always rains when I’m in Wales. Except, naturally, on the day we leave. Then it is invariably sunny.
West Wales is a beautiful part of the world, though, so you can almost forgive the place its sodden character. When I’m there I always feel a million miles away from the hustle, the bustle, the noise and the pollution of London. (I also feel so ridiculously isolated that I might fall off the face of the earth at any moment, but that’s another story.)
On our second evening, while everyone else sheltered inside from the rain, I decided to be virtuous and go for a run. Just a short one – down into the valley near our friends' house and back up the seldom-travelled road again (more of a lane, really). But on the way back by run was prematurely abandoned – because I spotted blackberries! Tons and tons of blackberries! As I always enjoy a bit of fruit foraging, it took three seconds before I was shoving fistfuls of blackberries into my big gob with one hand while grabbing at the prickly bramble bush for more with the other. I returned to the house not terribly exercised but suitably sated – and I knew I couldn’t return to London without bringing back some of these tasty berries with me.
Turn your back to the bramble bushes and this is the view you’re rewarded with
So the next evening, I dragged Edward out to the lane for a spot of brambling (that’s blackberry-picking, for the uninitiated) and we filled up a container to bring to London. Back in my kitchen the next day, however, the berries were a little worse for the journey. Kind of approaching a blackberry stew… So what better way to use them than to further mash them into a classic British dessert, a fruit fool?
And then some horses went by!
I can’t believe I’d never made a fool before this one. It’s one of the easiest desserts you can make, and I am all about the easy. At its simplest, it’s just a tart fruit, such as rhubarb, blackberries or gooseberries, pureed and folded into sweetened whipped cream. With blackberries, you don’t even have to cook them first! It also looks seriously impressive. I mean, that photo of my fool at the top of the post is pretty cute, no? Who wouldn’t like to be handed a cup of rich, fruity, creamy, slightly tarty goodness at the end of a meal?
The recipe below is a basic template to change as you please. You can replace some of the cream with mascarpone, add extracts, whatever! But do try it – with blackberry season in full swing, now’s the perfect time to become a fool for fool.
(Wow. That was a bad one.)
Serves 4. This is the ratio of ingredients I like but you may prefer a higher or lower cream / fruit / sugar ratio. Treat this as a base recipe to change as you please.
250 ml double or whipping cream
250 g blackberries, mashed or pureed and pressed through a sieve to remove seeds
2-4 Tbsp icing sugar
zest and juice of half a lemon
With a stand or hand mixer, whip the cream until fairly stiff. While whipping, add sugar to taste: start with 2 Tbsp, taste the cream, and work up from there if desired. When the cream is whipped add the lemon zest, juice and pureed blackberries and fold into the cream until it is just incorporated throughout.
Spoon the fool into 4 individual glasses (small wine glasses work well) and refrigerate. Remove from the fridge just before serving, to allow the fool to slightly lose its chill.