There are so many wonderful things about living in this little spot in Oregon: the lush, fern-filled forests dotted with waterfalls; the beautiful, sunny summer days; the pitter-patter of gentle rainstorms. Among all these lovely things surrounding us in the Willamette Valley, one of the best is undoubtedly the summer’s plump, juicy berries.
Last summer, every evening in June was a race to see who could eat the day’s ripe strawberries first, and by August, we were filling our bellies with fistfuls of dark, jewel-like blackberries at dusk. I have friends who moved away from Oregon after years of enjoying its bounty, and what do they miss the most? The berries, of course.
One of the best ways to fully enjoy the summer’s bite-sized prize is to simply mix it with cream. This summer berry treat combines the goodness of berries with the lusciousness of cream and sugar.
Summer Berry Fool
This simplest of summer desserts showcases Oregon’s berry bounty at its best.
1 cup strawberries or raspberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup blackberries or blueberries
1 pint heavy whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
whole berries, berry leaves, or berry blossoms for garnish
Combine strawberries or raspberries with 1 tablespoon sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender, and puree until completely smooth. Press the puree through a strainer or sieve to remove the seeds. Repeat with the blackberries or blueberries and the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar.
In a large bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
Place a spoonful of whipped cream in the bottom of eight 8-ounce dishes. Divide one of the berry purees evenly among the dishes. Put another spoonful of whipped cream on top of the berry puree, then divide the other berry mixture among the dishes, reserving a few teaspoons for garnish. Divide the remaining whipped cream evenly among the dishes. At this point, you should have alternating layers of whipped cream and berries. Using a bamboo skewer or chopstick, gently swirl the cream and berry purees together. Sprinkle the last few drops of berry puree on the very top of each dish and gently swirl them in. Garnish with whole berries, leaves, or blossoms, and serve immediately.
Variation: If you don’t want the hassle of making individual desserts, you can make one large fool instead. Follow the same directions, but layer all the ingredients in a large, clear serving bowl.