I get plain old silly when I think about British desserts: syllububs, trifles, jumbals, jam roly-polies. But nothing makes me happier than a simple fruit fool–a mixture of crushed fruit gently folded into a mountain of whipped cream. Something about the way the tang and sweetness of the fruit plays off the smooth rich cream incites slightly uncontrollable and rather audible “mmmmmmm”s from me every time I have one.
But alas, the “mountain of whipped cream” part presents a problem. Not so healthy, and not so great for vegans. The good news is that I have found a detour around that problem, a detour that comes to me via chef Brain P. McCarthy and his book, The Vegan Family Cookbook (Lantern Books, 2006). The way around involves his recipe for a tofu-based whipped cream.
Vegan Whipped “Cream”
1 1/2 cups (about 12 ounces) extra firm silken tofu
1 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
Mix in a blender or food processor until smooth, and voila, you have two cups of whipped “cream” to start fooling around with.
Traditionally fools were made with summer berries, but I have used almost every fruit imaginable to yummy success. You can use raw fruit that has been mashed, you can use cooked fruit with its syrup, you can use a combination of both. Use equal parts whipped “cream” and fruit, and gently fold the fruit into the cream so that there are streaks of both. I have been baking with quinces lately, and ended up with a quince fool that was pretty dreamy–and feels just right for the holidays. (And, I just like the way “quince fool” sounds.)
Quince are so great. If you’ve never used them before, they’re kind of like apples, but with a distinctive perfumey floral flavor. They need to be cooked (for a long time), and then they turn a glorious pink. I love that.
4 medium quince
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups water
Peel and core the quince and cut into slices. Heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves, then add quince sections. Simmer gently for two hours, until pink and tender. Drain the quince and reserve the syrup.
For the quince fool, slightly mash the quince with some of the poaching liquid, and swirl into the “cream.” It’s that simple.