Hopefully everyone survived last Friday, April Fools' Day! In honor of this day, for dessert, I decided to make a ‘fool’ and wanted to share! Thanks to the English for this special treat made easy with stewed seasonal fruit folded into sweetened whipped cream. Present it in a beautiful stemmed glass with a few Toasted Walnut-Black Pepper Butter Cookies and you’re nobody’s fool! Serve it all through Spring and Summer, just change up your fruit as the seasons allow.
Strawberry-Vanilla Bean Fool
1 lb fresh strawberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/8 tsp powdered cloves
1 whole vanilla bean, split down the center lengthwise
1/2 orange, zested and juiced
1 cup heavy cream
1 T sugar
Wash and de-stem the berries. Cut them into 1/2 inch chunks and put in a saucepan with the sugar, cloves, vanilla bean, juice and zest. Cook over med-low heat for about 15 minutes until the strawberries are soft and most of the water from the fruit has cooked away. Mash with a potato masher until all the berries are smashed and somewhat uniform. Remove the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and stir into the mash. Transfer to another container, cover and refrigerate until cold. Whip the cream with the sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the chilled strawberry mixture into the cream keeping a marbled texture. Pile into stemmed glasses and serve. It will hold for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving.
Toasted Walnut-Black Pepper Butter Cookies
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper (you can leave out, but the pepper goes really well with the strawberries, no foolin’!)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 1/3 cups flour
a bit more powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the walnuts and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until fragrant. Let them cool, then grind them to a powder in the food processor. Cream the butter and the sugar together then add the salt, pepper, vanilla and almond extract. Mix the ground almonds with the flour and add gradually to the butter mixture forming a smooth dough. Shape into a cylinder about 1 1/2 inches across, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. Slice the cookies in 1/4 inch slices and place on an un-greased cookie sheet. Bake until they are lightly browned about 12-15 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and dust with powdered sugar sprinkled through a sieve. If you don’t want to bake all the cookies at once, wrap the dough tightly and freeze. Makes about 3 dz.
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"