Strawberry Fool

Homemade strawberry fools
Today we’re talking about a quick, easy, straightforward dessert. The kind that you can rustle together in 20 minutes with just a few simple ingredients, and leave in the fridge until dinner time. This is the ideal dinner party pudding, especially during the summer months when you can get hold of perfectly ripe, juicy strawberries. I may be biased, but I think it’s hard to beat Scottish strawberries. Usually the smallest strawberries are actually the ones with the strongest, sweetest flavour, despite the enticing look of the larger, perfectly-strawberry-shaped fruits.

I loosely based this recipe on one from BBC Good Food (my go-to website for recipe guidance and inspiration). I finally got to use a splash of the delicious elderflower liquor that I was given for my birthday. We only added one shot of the liquor, and actually our strawberries had such an intense flavour that they overpowered the elderflower taste. If I was making this again I would definitely add another shot, but of course this will depend on what type of liquor you are using and how flavourful your strawberries are. My advice would be to taste the fool as you go along, to make sure you get the balance just right.
Ingredients for homemade strawberry fool
Ingredients (serves 6)
300g ripe strawberries, plus 100g extra chopped into small pieces
300g Greek yogurt
3 tbsp icing sugar
300ml double cream
1-2 shots of elderflower or fruit liquor

Method
1. Place 300g of your ripest strawberries into a blender and blitz until smooth.
Strawberries for blending to make strawberry coulis
Strawberry coulis
Homemade strawberry coulis
2. Beat together the yogurt and icing sugar.
Greek yogurt and icing sugar for a strawberry fool
3. Add the double cream and whip until thick. You want the mixture to form stiff peaks, but not have that over-whipped consistency.
Adding the double cream to the fool mixture
Whipping the cream and yogurt for a strawberry fool
4. Fold through the liquor and most of the chopped strawberries.
Folding the chopped strawberries through the strawberry fool mixture
5. Very gently fold through the strawberry coulis a little at time so that the mixture is rippled and not completely combined.
Folding strawberry coulis through the fool mixture
6. Spoon the fool into small tumblers or wine glasses, top with the remaining chopped strawberries and chill for at least an hour in the fridge.
Spooning the homemade strawberry fool into cups
We had these little puddings after Sunday dinner, served with amoretti and ginger biscuits. They had a light, but rich consistency and a really intense sweet strawberry flavour. We didn’t actually use all of the strawberry coulis, but it kept in the fridge for the next couple of days and was amazing drizzled over vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt.
Homemade strawberry fools

Not-Rum-and-Raisin Birthday Brownies

Gift box of raisin and fudge brownies

These brownies were a gift, along with a ridiculously sized growler of porter, for a close friend who turns another year older and wiser today. Ok, maybe just older if the antics of Saturday night are considered. I would argue that the basic brownie recipe that these are based on (Nigella Lawson’s in “How To Be a Domestic Goddess”) is the best out there: a bold claim, I know. If you champion a rival recipe then I would love to hear it!

The original recipe adds chopped walnuts to the brownie mix, but I wanted to do something a bit different. A long list of potential edible extras came to mind: white chocolate chips, peanut butter, marshmallows, raspberries, orange zest, Oreos, and so on. Ross demanded “No Fruit”, but in the end he lost that battle. I think I struck a pretty fair compromise though, by balancing out fruit with booze. Rum and raisin is a classic combination – I love rum and raisin ice-cream – and, once that idea had popped into my head, I just couldn’t let it go without making it. Unfortunately, I had sultanas, not raisins, and the dregs of some apricot liquor, not rum. And so Not-Rum-and-Raisin Brownies were born.

Ingredients laid out for baking sultana fudge brownies

Ingredients (Makes about 15 brownies)

Small handful of sultanas
A few glugs of fruit liquor or rum
190g butter
190g good quality dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids is ideal – or higher if you love dark chocolate
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g caster sugar (Note: this seems like a ridiculous amount of sugar when you weigh it out. We’re making full fat brownies here. Deal with it.)
115g plain flour
½ tsp salt
80g of fudge, chopped into small pieces

Method

1. Soak the sultanas in the liquor and leave for a couple of hours, at least.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Butter an 18cm by 28cm tin (at least 3cm deep) and line with baking parchment. If you leave some excess parchment on either of the long sides then lifting the entire bake out of the tin is much easier.

Brownie tin lined with parchment paper ready for brownie mix

3. Melt the butter and chocolate over a low heat, stirring until glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Melted chocolate and butter for brownie mix running off a wooden spoon

4. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a bowl.

5. Sift the flour into a separate bowl and add the salt.

6. When the chocolate mixture has cooled enough (unwanted scrambled egg action would be a disaster here), beat in the egg and sugar mixture.

7. Combine the chocolate mixture with the flour. Drain the excess liquid from the sultanas and add to the brownie mixture with the fudge. Beat to a smooth batter.

Raw brownie mixture for baking dropping from a wooden spoon

8. Pour the thick brownie mixture into the lined tin, using a spatula to scrape every last drop out. Give the tin a shoogle (technical term) so that the mixture spreads into the corners.

9. Bake for about 25 minutes, depending on how you like your brownies*.

10. Leave to cool on a baking rack and then cut into pieces. Dust liberally with icing sugar.

Baked brownies out the tin and sliced into 15 pieces

*The consistency of brownies is very much a personal preference. 25 minutes in the oven produced a wonderfully fudgy consistency, but if you prefer your brownies soft and gooey in the centre then 20 minutes should do it. Any less than that and you might be scooping out your brownies into a bowl. Do remember that the brownies will keep cooking once they are out the oven.

These went down extremely well, if I do say so myself. The hint of booze was just right and the fudge was slightly melted but still chewy. They are very, very rich so one piece is definitely satisfying enough…unless you are the birthday boy, in which case no one is counting!

Happy Birthday Colum!