Sweet on Short Notice: Strawberry Tarragon Fools

June 4th, 2013

strawberry tarragon fool

Hey, how is it June and almost the middle of the year? Funny how having a baby completely skews your sense of time (i.e., how do entire months pass by without my realizing? I am staring at a not-so-tiny-anymore baby so I know months happened, but darned if I can explain where they went).

And as all parents know, once you think you’ve figured things out, every thing changes. I was actually weirdly excited when the pediatrician said that baby wouldn’t be ready to start eating solid foods for a couple more months. Because honestly, I’m not ready for that challenge yet. I’ve got the feeding thing down, can we keep it this way for a while? With my return to work, some more fun balls get thrown into the air as well. Some days, I feel like I’m pulling it off. Other days, I feel like I’m scrambling to pick the balls up off the ground before anyone else notices.

So thanks for sticking by while I get through the transition back to work. I still have a lot of news, reviews, and recipes to share. Like this one, a truly last-minute dessert for when I’m stuck at home with a crying baby and am desperately scouring the fridge:

strawberry tarragon fool

I was inspired by Bakeless Sweets, Faith Durand’s new cookbook devoted to desserts that can all be made without turning on an oven. Filled with custards and puddings and mousses, it’s ideal for the hot days of summer, when you want to stay out of a hot kitchen, and when fruit is so ripe you want to do as little as possible with it. (There’s also plenty of non-fruit recipes, including pies, cookies, and chocolate).

Bakeless Sweets includes a section on whipped cream desserts, including fools. A fool is one of those desserts that seems way too easy to be called a dessert. Fresh fruit, lightly pureed, folded into whipped cream. Although this English dessert is traditionally made with tart fruit like gooseberries or rhubarb, just about any fresh fruit, especially berries, will do. It’s also a dessert on a moment’s notice: there’s almost always cream and sugar in the kitchen (or at least the kitchen of any self-respecting baker).

Since summer always gets me hankering for strawberries, I had baskets of them ready to be folded into a fool. Since the fruit for a fool is usually stewed, I gave the strawberries a quick roast to bring out the juices and intensify the flavors. I also decided to add a little twist by infusing the cream with some fresh tarragon – I’ve really been into the combination of strawberries and tarragon lately. Since the strawberries are so lush and sweet, the tarragon provides the bright, herbal contrast the fool needs. If you just can’t wait for the tarragon to infuse the cream and need dessert NOW (which, is, of course, the original intention of a fool), you can always mix some fresh tarragon leaves with the strawberries.

It’s a quickie for dessert this week, but still thoroughly enjoyable, I think, and just right for upcoming lazy days of summer!

Empty cup

Strawberry Tarragon Fools

makes about 6 servings
  • 3 cups (375 g) strawberries, chopped and hulled
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 cup (230 g) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a baking dish. Roast strawberries for about 8-10 minutes until soft. Remove and let cool.
  • Combine tarragon and cream and refrigerate for a half hour. Strain out leaves. Combine cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Whip to just past soft peaks, but not firm.
  • Carefully fold strawberries into cream. Divide among small dessert glasses and serve.

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