Blueberries & strawberries star in this luscious dessert — but your favorite fruit probably works too
Summer in North America brings an abundance of fresh, ripe berries and other fruits. They’re wonderful eaten as is, but eventually we hanker after variety. Time to transform some of that fruit into dessert.
And when summer turns up the heat, no dessert can beat a Fruit Fool. The no-cook version of this dish gives you sweet deliciousness without heating up the kitchen (you just macerate some fresh fruit and mix with whipped cream). It’s easy to make, looks gorgeous, and tastes even better.
The Fruit Fool is a cousin of the trifle and parfait, and might even be an inspiration for the smoothie. But it has a flavor that’s all summer.
So after all those berry cobblers, pies, and buckles, why not try something different? And discover a new adage: A fool and its berries are soon eaten.
Recipe: Fruit Fool
You can make a Fool using almost any fruit. Today’s recipe uses blueberries and strawberries because they’re what happened to look good at our local market.
Tart gooseberries and rhubarb are other traditional fruit choices for this dessert. If you use those, you’ll have to cook the fruit to soften and sweeten it (see Notes for a word about stewing fruit). But there are many other fruits that you can just chop up and macerate with sugar (maybe simmering them a bit if you’re so inclined). Peaches are particularly nice, and they’re becoming abundant in our part of the world at the moment.
You can also make a Fool with custard instead of whipped cream. But cooking custard means working over a hot stove, so most of us will probably prefer whipped cream during the summer months. (Besides, what’s better than fresh whipped cream?)
Fruit Fools date back at least to the 16th century, and perhaps even earlier (no one really knows how the name originated). Fool recipes have become fairly standardized — if you look around, you’ll find that most are remarkably similar. Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the pastry chef in our household, and this is her version of a Fruit Fool. But the quantities and ingredients are basically suggestions. Feel free to adjust both to suit your own tastes.
You can assemble the Fool in a big serving dish (a transparent one lets you see the colorful ingredients) and then dish up at table. Or you can spoon the ingredients into individual serving dishes (we like to use clear glass bowls or wine glasses).
It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to prepare the fruit for this dish (if you’re cooking it, you’ll also need to let it cool down). While the fruit is macerating or cooling, you can whip the cream. So figure under 30 minutes for a no-cook Fool, longer for a cooked version. You can make Fruit Fool an hour or two ahead, then chill it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve (see Notes).
This recipe makes 4 generous servings, or 6 to 8 smaller ones.
For the fruit:
- 4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into halves or quarters
- ~2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for macerating strawberries (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (optional; may substitute another orange liqueur, or cognac)
- 4 cups blueberries, washed
- ~2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for macerating blueberries (or to taste; optional)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons white sugar (granulated or powdered; or to taste)
- mint sprig (very optional)
- Wash and hull the strawberries, then cut them into halves or quarters (depending on their size). Toss the strawberries with 2 tablespoons of the macerating sugar (or more to taste) and the Grand Marnier, if you’re using it. Let strawberries sit at least 10 minutes to tease out the sweet juices.
- Wash the blueberries and remove any stems. Blueberries are often naturally sweet, and their skins prevent them from macerating as readily as strawberries. So you may elect not to macerate them, and instead just incorporate them as-is into the dessert. If you decide to macerate, toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar and let sit 10 minutes or so.
- While the berries are macerating, whip the cream. Add the cream and three tablespoons of white sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer) and begin to whip on low speed. Increase to medium as soon as you can (i.e., when the cream is becoming thick enough that droplets don’t spatter from the mixing action). Beat until the cream forms soft peaks, then taste and add more sugar if necessary. Continue beating until you reach the medium or stiff peak stage (whichever you prefer). Set the whipped cream aside (don’t worry, it won’t collapse; refrigerate if it’s going to be sitting for more than a few minutes).
- You can use the macerated strawberries as they are, or purée them. To purée, just put them in the food processor and pulse briefly. (We generally stop whirring when they reach a chunky purée stage, but you may prefer something closer to strawberry sauce). Alternatively, you can purée half the macerated strawberries, and leave the rest unprocessed.
- Same with the blueberries — you can use them as they are or purée them (same instructions as in Step 4).
- Assemble the Fool in a big serving dish or spoon into individual serving bowls or glasses. You can fold all the ingredients together, or layer them, or do something in between. If you layer, it’s easiest to start with a base of puréed fruit (strawberries, in this case), then add a layer of whipped cream, then top with blueberries. For something in between folding and layering, you can “swirl” the ingredients together (add dollops of each ingredient to the serving dish until it’s about a third full, then use a spoon or knife to swirl them together; continue adding ingredients and swirling until the serving dish is full). Finish with an optional garnish of mint sprig.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to a couple of hours.
- As noted above, ingredients and quantities are highly flexible in this dessert. You can adapt this recipe to just about any berry or other fruit, so use whatever looks best in your market, in quantities that appeal to you (and that fit your serving dishes). Above all, don’t be afraid to adjust ingredients, sweetness, and flavorings to suit your own taste.
- Need to cook (stew) fruit for a Fool? Just wash the fruit and prep it (peel, hull, or whatever), then cut it into smallish pieces. Add the fruit to a saucepan with sugar to taste, then simmer on low heat for perhaps 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down. If you like, you can add a touch of lemon juice to help brighten the flavor. Remove the cooked fruit from the stove and allow it to cool (it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a day). When ready to make the Fool, just assemble the cooked fruit with whipped cream.
- Some cooks like to sweeten whipped cream with powdered sugar, which dissolves very quickly. We’ve found that granulated sugar works fine, but feel free to use powdered if you prefer. Or you could use superfine (caster) sugar (if you don’t have any on hand, you can make it easily — just place some granulated white sugar in the food processor, and grind for a minute or so).
- You might want to add a half teaspoon or so of vanilla extract to the whipped cream for flavoring. We usually prefer it without, but you may feel otherwise.
- If you make a Fruit Fool too far in advance, the juice from the fruit can thin the whipped cream. So you’ll get the best results if you assemble the Fool no more than a hour or two before serving (just be sure to refrigerate it).
- This dish is best when made with homemade whipped cream. But if you’re short on time, you can use the canned variety.
- If you’re really short on time, you could probably substitute canned “pie filling” fruit for macerated or stewed fresh fruit. Or you could try pulsing chunky canned fruit (e.g., canned peaches) in the food processor. We haven’t tried these methods, but they might be an option if you really need to make dessert in a hurry.
- You could also skip the macerating or cooking step, and instead just add chunked up fruit to a blender with sugar and cream. Whir, and you have a smoothie! But I’d recommend making a Fool instead — it tastes way better.
- If you’re making a Fruit Fool during cooler weather and want something a bit heavier, you can substitute custard for whipped cream, as noted above.
- Some Fool recipes add gelatin to thicken the fruit. It’s not something we care for, but try it if you like.
- A layered Fruit Fool looks similar to what Americans call a “parfait.” A traditional French parfait is a frozen dish that kinda sorta resembles ice cream, while the American version usually features alternating layers of ice cream and fruit (and often other ingredients, such as gelatin) in a fancy tall glass.
- A Fool is also similar to a trifle (often called English Trifle). But a trifle incorporates layers of sponge cake and custard along with the fruit and whipped cream.
A Fool’s Paradise
“I’m loving this!” I exclaimed halfway through dessert. “Such a terrific way to use fruit in season.”
“It’s really good,” agreed Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, “although I’m partial to Blueberry Buckle as well.”
“Absolutely,” I said. “Also Cobbler. Not to mention terrific Crisp and Flaugnarde.”
“Have you ever met a fruit dessert you didn’t like?” asked Mrs K R with a smile.
“I guess not,” I admitted. “You know me too well.”
“There’s no fool like an old fool,” she observed.
Weird. Those Fools tasted freshly made to me.
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You are right berry season rocks. With fresh berries there are endless ways to enjoy them. This is a beautiful way to enjoy them.
Hi Velva, berry season is so terrific, isn't it? We totally love it! And this really is a nice way to enjoy fresh berries, or other fruit. Thanks for the comment.
John, that looks so summery and inviting! I'm all for anything that doesn't involve getting my kitchen all heated up - thanks!
Yum this looks so appealing and refreshing. Your blueberries are huge. I love recipes that are simple like this. I think it's the perfect treat year round.
Hi John , The 'Fruit Fools' looks so inviting ... refreshing and yummy and OHooooooooo so easy , fruit is plentiful , weather is hot so off I go to whip up some fruit fools . Thanks so much for sharng .
Beautiful dessert. Love the simplicity of this John. I got a big bowl of whipped cream waiting to be used up. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us.
What a refreshing dessert for the summertime. I love fruit desserts, I can never eat enough berries!
Hi Donalyn, it really is a great dessert for summer, and the fact you can prepare it without heating up the kitchen really is nice. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Vicki, there really have been some great blueberries in the stores lately! I agree this would be nice anytime, but with all of summer's berries, so nice now. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nee, these fools really are fun! Easy and delish - what could be better? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, this is a great dessert anytime you have extra whipped cream. ;-) Enjoy! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, aren't fruit desserts wonderful? And I'm with you on berries - I can't get too many. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm a fool for this dessert of course, simple but elegant with refreshing flavour :)
Choc Chip Uru
Yum, this looks like this would be perfect for the warm summer days - very refreshing.
This is really my favorite kind of dessert, and yours looks gorgeous! One of the things I'm most excited about being back in the States for is the variety of berries available. Yum.
Hey John, fantastic variation on two of my favorite fruits! We eat blueberries all the time and I love the combination of strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. Great refreshing summer dessert!
I vote for eating all my fruit with whipped cream from now on! LOL
Love the simplicity of a fruit fool...and I love limoncello in mine too! Gosh I want some of this now...all your fault John!
Yum, this looks so good, I'm such a sucker for fruit desserts, I"ll always chose one of those on from a restaurant dessert menu.
Berries are a wonderful gift of summer season.
I love the simplicity and freshness of this recipe, as well as its versatility.
I would love to try this on a nice summer day!
i think this is an excellent way to get non fruit eaters to eat their fruit! this looks lovely! bookmarked!
such a pleasurable recipe,so quick and absolutely refreshing on the palate,will become a regular on weekdays...thanks for sharing
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Hi Uru, you'd be foolish not to like this dessert! :D Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, it's really such a nice summer dessert - refreshing, and the fruit has such wonderful flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Katherine, we do have pretty good berries in the US, don't we? Sometimes we take them for granted! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bill, what I really like about this dessert is it's so simple to make, and the flavor payoff is so great. Really good stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, yeah, fruit and whipped cream isn't exactly the healthiest choice, is it? ;-) But so, so good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barb, limoncello sounds like a really good addition! Need to try that. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chris, I'm a sucker for fruit desserts, too. Lemon is actually my number one weakness, but after that anything with berries. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Daniela, isn't this a nice, simple dessert? And such flavor! Really worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, you're right that this dessert will certainly get non fruit eaters into fruit, and in a big way! Impossible to resist! Thanks for the comment.
Hi kumars kitchen, this truly is a pleasurable dish - so much fun to eat! Thanks for the comment.
I love that you made a fool! Old heritage cookbooks are full of recipes for them, but I have been a bit scared to try one. Scared no longer! Now that I've seen one and heard such rave reviews, I think I must.
Thanks for a different yet beautiful summer dessert!
Hi Lindsey, most classic (or heritage, if you prefer) recipes are just good basic ingredients and simple techniques. The fool is only as good as the fruit you put into it - and because this is the high season for berries in the US, it's the best time to fool around. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Awesome fruit fool! Best part of summer is all of these fresh berries :)
What a great way to enjoy those gorgeous berries in season. I've been getting baskets and baskets of berries each week as my kids love them so much. :) I'll definitely enjoy this a lot. (too bad my hubby is not a berry fan, so, I really love your conversation with Mrs Kitchen Riffs! that just will never happen in my house!) ;)
I love your sense of humour! I always get a laugh when I read your posts, and today's "fool" comments were no exception.
Like you, I've never met a fruit dessert that I didn't like. Crisps, crumbles, cobblers, pies, and buckles - they are all heaven to me. And although I've eaten fools, I've never made one myself. You've given me everything I need to change that immediately.
I love the look of this beautiful fresh fruit dessert! Great way to use up leftover fruit in the fridge as well :)
Ripe summer fruit is best kept simple, which you have done here, and you are so right about fresh whipped cream. Ah, it is heavenly! I discovered last summer that honey works for macerating fruit too. It was a beautiful thing and you've reminded me it's time to be a 'fool' for it again. ;)
This looks so delicious and a simple but wonderful, wodnerful way to enjoy the fruits of the season! I almost don't know what to do with the shit load of berries I have been unable to stop myself from buying at the farmer's markets! p.s. enjoying the conversations ha!
Hi Ashley, aren't all of these berries wonderful? We've been enjoying them so many different ways. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, those conversations are a lot of fun to write! ;-) Too bad hubby doesn't enjoy berries that much, but that means more for you and the kids! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Beth, ;-) fools really are good stuff, and so worth making. Quite easy, too. Pretty rich, but you can always cut down on the amount of whipped cream, I guess (seems a shame to do that, though). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Christine, isn't this a nice looking dish? Even nicer to eat than it is to look at! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, I haven't tried macerating fruit with honey - will definitely do that. And it's always time to be a fool! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shu Han, well, now you know what to do with all of those berries! ;-) It's so easy to buy too many of them, isn't it? Fortunately there are so many great ways to eat them! Thanks for the comment.
It's so nice to have a quick and easy no bake dessert like this in case a craving (or company) strikes!
Hi Laura, I so agree it's nice to have a recipe like this up your sleeve for those times you need to make a dessert on the spur of the moment. And this is a good one! Thanks for the comment.
So easy and anytime fruit is paired with Grand Marnier, I am up for it!
Hi Alyssa, I'll never turn down a dessert made with Grand Mariner! Thanks for the comment.
Perfect summer recipe! It's hot enough in the kitchen without turning on the oven. And who doesn't love fresh berries and whipped cream???
Love berries macerated in booze. This would have been a perfect dessert for the holidays!
What an awesome and simple recipe...looks so pretty and from the ingredients must taste divine...I love recipes like this...thank you John!
Have a great week ahead :D
Ohhh. Simplicity at its finest, you old fool! Love it!
Hi Liz, this really is a great recipe! Really delish, and so easy - what could be better? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, this would have been great for the 4th, I agree. But it's wonderful anytime! ;-) thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, it really is a pretty dessert, and extremely flavorful. Truly good stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, we old fools are good at being simple. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
It's the beginning of strawberry season here and I'm feeling a bit "fool"ish. :)
It is crazy hot here in Japan and I also miss abundant inexpensive berries that I can get in California... here blueberries cost double! I can eat two glasses of this. Looks refreshing and delicious (not to mention, easy)!!
Hi, John. Wouldn't ya know it? I've been eating fools for 3 weeks now and had no idea that's what they were called. I love the mix of blueberries and strawberries and these few weeks have been heaven-sent, as they are each year. Later tonight, when I have my berry snack ... er ... fool, I'll think of the Kitchen Riffs and do my best not to think of Sammy Davis, Jr, and *that* song.
This was a great post, John. Thanks.
Hi Maureen, berry season tends to make fools of us all. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nami, it's a great dessert - tasty and super easy to make. Can't get better than that! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, lol at Sammy Davis and the "song"! I actually thought of using some song titles in the post, but obviously decided to go in a different direction. ;-) I suspect a lot of people make fools, or at least something close, and don't really know it - it's a great dessert. Enjoy your fool! Thanks for the comment.
What a perfect dessert for the summer! The whipped cream is definitely the way to go, especially with the temps in the high 90s. You mentioned peaches and that sounds good to me. Costco has had some awesome peaches lately and we can't seem to get enough of them. That you and Mrs. KR for sharing this dessert! I know it would be a huge hit in this house.
Hi MJ, we've been getting good peaches to, and Mrs K R has been getting inspired to bake something with them. ;-) And peaches work extremely well in a fool (might want to throw in a few blueberries too - peaches and blueberries pair so well, IMO). Have fun fooling around! Thanks for the comment.
A refreshing and divine dessert! Fools are fabulous and so versatile.
Hi Rosa, aren't fools so great? Really versatile, as you say, and so much flavor! Thanks for the comment.
I live for berry season, John! This dessert looks just so delicious, and I love that it doesn't require any cooking or baking. I try to keep my cooking out of the oven this time of year in Texas, but not always successfully, ha! Thanks for sharing.
Hi Georgia, this really is a great dessert to beat the heat! Great flavor, too, and so easy to make. What's not to like? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream -- delightful trifecta to beat the summer heat. Ahhh if only I could have it right now! haha!
Look at those berries and I would say. . . only fools will refuse to have those summer fruits of yum! :) I love your photos and your composition is right on target my friend. I hope you are having a great mid-week, John! :)
Hi Malou, I really love this dish and could almost eat it all the time. But then of course it wouldn't be special. But so good at this time of the year! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ray, ;-) It's a great dish, and so delish. Thanks for the kind words, and comment.
Beautiful dish. The red, white and blue is a work of art. I grew to love fools while we lived in England, but they were usually the cream recipe. I have never tried the custard version but plan on it now.
Hi Karen, fools are great, aren't they? Lovely way to use fresh fruit, berries in particular. Thanks for the comment.
My mom would adore this dessert. She loves Grand Marnier, and I have a ton of berries from the local farm stand ready to go.
This fruit fool is calling my name! And I'm definitely keeping the Grand Marnier :)
Hi Kristi, I think your berries are suggesting you make this. ;-) Do it for your mom! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Yvonne, the Grand Marnier does add really nice flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, this fruit fool look so delectable and refreshing. It look very pretty in the serving glass. Thanks for sharing the excellent recipe.
Have a great week ahead.
Hi Amelia, it's a great dessert, and I agree it's one that looks really pretty. ;-) I hope you have a great week, too, and thanks for the comment.
John, you forgot to add Eton Mess to your list; the famous strawberries and cream dessert from Eton College in England. I love fools and Messes and trifles, I think its the creamy texture. I have a pineapple and strawberry fool recipe on my site but I added some condensed milk..yum
Your berry fool looks amazing, love the colours the berries the creaminess.
Hi Nazneen, I actually almost added a reference to Eton Mess to the post! But the post was getting long enough I decided against it because it contained meringue and I thought that might confuse things (plus few in the US would know it, so I'd have to explain it) - probably a mistake. I like the idea of condensed milk in a fool - must be tasty. Thanks for the comment.
Yummy!! Love the colorful 4th of July layers!! Hope you had a great one :)
Hi Kiran, we did have a wonderful 4th, although we actually made this dessert afterwards - inspired, no doubt, by the colors! Thanks for the comment.
I love the ease & beauty of this light, sweet treat :-)
Hi C.J., it really is an exceptionally easy - and tasty! - recipe. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
John this is fabulous. I love a good fool, and this one is superb. I love recipes like this, especially in the summer.
Hi Kim, isn't this nice? I'll bet you'd really enjoy making (and eating!) this one. Thanks for the comment.
This one is really good for summer. I am trying to stay away from baking when it is so hot and humid.
Thanks for the recipe and ideas! :)
Hi Ilke, if you don't want to bake, this is perfect for you! Makes great use of seasonal berries, and is so awfully tasty. Thanks for the comment.
I miss fresh western summer fruits. They can be used so easily for dessert such as your smart fruit fool. =) the tropical fruits always have some substance that doesn't work well for European desserts. Pretty photos John!
Hi Helene, berries are so wonderful in summer - if I couldn't have them I'd be really upset! Thanks for the kind words, and comment.
Its amazing that your fruits are in season when ours are too. I have loads of strawberry farms around me so can get hold of with ease. Another great recipe, thanks.
Hi Lizzie, I used to live in Florida, and strawberries were in season there from very late December until late March! Our local berries are gone now, but California berries are excellent at the moment. But it is interesting that you're getting berries too - I wonder if your climate might be somewhat similar to Florida's winter climate (very mild). Thanks for the comment.
What a fun recipe, and so versatile! These are my kind of desserts, especially when I have friends over! I like that you slightly pureed the strawberries, that sounds like a perfect bite with the whipped cream, and blueberries! Yum, Take care,Terra
Hi Terra, isn't this nice? Totally easy, but so much flavor! Whizzing the strawberries in a food processor for a couple of seconds really does make for a nice texture. Thanks for the comment.
Luscious and delicious!!
Hi Lail, it really is totally luscious. And delish. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I love this dessert: you look at it and you imagine your spoon coming up full of heaven sweetness. In a couple of weeks I'm going on holidays with the family: just the perfect surprise to make them one day.
Hi Alex, this would be a great surprise! And so easy to make too. Hope you have a great holiday! Thanks for the comment.
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