What’s with These Names?

Last December brought a Dutch Baby, and a month ago came something called a “Grunt.”  What’s left?  What bizarre linguistic twists will the kitchen inspire next?  How about a Berry Fool?  No kidding.  Unlike the other two creations, this name goes back centuries, too.  Plenty of time to change things, but no.

In common with many fools, this one is simple.  Effectively, just berries and whipped cream, the Fool manages a beguiling complexity nonetheless.  A splash of Grand Marnier and cookies  crumbled on top add additional layers of taste and texture.  This Fool is surprisingly smart, then, and is beautifully cooling, perfect as summer unleashes its full heat and humidity.

The August 2019 Bon Appetit featured the recipe, and devoted the cover photo to a Berry Fool, making its inclusion here irresistible.  All told, just a handful of ingredients make up the list, and this includes the cookies and cordial, which weren’t in the original recipe.  Hey, as summer blasts away, the less time spent in the kitchen, the better.  Especially as the oven and the stove remain untouched, and you emerge with a cool, creamy, refreshing dessert.  Look at you, the hero!

Two different varieties today for your restoration – blueberry and strawberry-raspberry.  It’s the same recipe for both, though garnish with fresh berries if you seek a distinctive, fancy touch.  For the dessert underneath, frozen berries are fine.  In fact, iced may preferable, because A) the berries begin to macerate anyway (i.e. break down and ooze juice) as the sugar works on them, and B) it’s, like, 175 degrees outside right now.

Oh, how did the “Fool” acquire its unfortunate name?  Stories vary, though the most plausible has Crusaders returning from their journeys smitten with a dish they encountered in the Levant, called a “Ful.”  It was adapted to include readily-available local fruit and, as “Ful” is pronounced “Fool” in English, so it wended through the centuries to us.

Which brings a story.  A Dutch Baby, a Grunt and a Fool walk into a bar…  Heard this one already?  Okay, fair enough, but a Fool is no joke.  Scarcely can you imagine a dessert more serious about chilling even the most withering heat.  No fool, this dessert.


Berry Fool

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

For the berries:

  • 1 pound berries, halved if large (*1)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, optional (*2)
  • fresh berries and crumbled vanilla wafers for garnish, optional (*3)

Place a stand mixer bowl and the wire whisk attachment in the freezer (*4)  Allow them to chill thusly for at least 15 minutes.

While the metal chills, start on the berries.  In a large bowl gently mix the berries, sugar, salt and liqueur (if using).  Let stand for 15 minutes, to give the berries a chance to macerate.

After the mixer equipment frosts, remove from the freezer and attach to the mixer.  Add all the whipped cream ingredients to the mixer bowl.  Starting at low speed, gradually increase the motor speed to high and whisk for about three minutes, until stiff peaks form, but the whipped cream still is light and fluffy.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the berries into the whipped cream, only churning once or twice.  The point is, you want large pockets of unalloyed berries and cream.  While the dessert still works culinarily if they’re mixed thoroughly, the resulting concoction wouldn’t be as interesting visually.

Spoon mixture into individual vessels, garnish with fresh berries and crumbled cookies if desired, and serve.


1 – Use any variety of fruit that appeals.  As mentioned above, frozen actually may be preferable, as the sugar breaks down the fruit anyway, and the freezer section offers quite a variety, all frozen at peak.  Just let them thaw in the refrigerator for a day ahead of time.

If you’re hankering for something other than the featured varieties, how about blackberries?  Peaches are another good option or, if the mood strikes you, try boysenberries or lingonberries.  Or, you could do what’s popular in England, and add gooseberries.  The choices stagger, and so does your imagination.

2 – The liqueur is optional, of course, and there’s no need to use Grand Marnier, but it does have a definite orange vibe that plays well with berries.

3 – Again, these two ingredients weren’t in the original recipe, but they both enhance both the visuals and the taste.  If you don’t use vanilla wafers, shortbread, ladyfingers or graham crackers (all crumbled, of course) work well too.

4 – The original recipe calls for hand mixing, done in a room-temperature bowl.  Using a stand mixer is easier, and freezing the bowl beforehand gives the whipped cream body and substance a tepid preparation can’t match.


8 thoughts on “What’s with These Names?

  1. You mean it’s 175 there, too? Keith to the rescue with his frozen Berry Fool! I love macerated berries and the fact that I know the word macerated. Thanks for the history lesson, jokes, and cooling inspiration! 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed, it was in the mid-90s when I put quill to parchment. By Northeastern standards, formidable. Yesterday brought a Canadian blast, though, and temps tumbled to the low 70s. The storm has broken, though, and I suspect the heat lunges soon to reclaim its rightful place.

      Of course you’re familiar with “macerated,” Crystal. You’re a teacher, after all. An English teacher and a writer. A smart teacher 👩‍🏫 and a talented writer ✍ would know that word, wouldn’t she? Darn! Gonna have to come up with something more convoluted and obscure the next time.

      Glad you enjoyed the berries. Plenty more to come in the years ahead, because it seems summer keeps returning every May. However, I can’t promise titles as Foolish as was this one!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Tamara! You know this journal’s M.O., a dessert every month. (Gotta eat your veggies first., though).

      Funny you mention a bomb, because a dessert coming up next year or in ’24 promises a Bombshell’s impact.

      Liked by 1 person

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