by John Ryan
The year was 1974. I was finishing dinner in a Parisian restaurant—not a fancy place, but a cheap working-class restaurant you don't read about in guidebooks. (It was the only kind I could afford at the time.)
For dessert I ordered crème chantilly, whipped cream. Just plain whipped cream. I know a bowl of plain whipped cream doesn't sound like a big deal, but at the time you couldn't (still can't for that matter) get a simple bowl of whipped cream in an American restaurant. Yet a bowl of whipped cream is good, very, very good. (I flogged this horse last month, so I'll stop now.)
If all you've had is Cool Whip or aerosol whipped cream in the past few years, you owe it to yourself to try the real thing. Whipped cream is so good, in fact, that you don't really need anything else. But 'tis the season, and a little strawberry sauce over the top, or folded into the whipped cream to create a simple English dessert called a fool, makes whipped cream even better.
1 pint juicy strawberries
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
To make the sauce, hull and halve the berries, then purée them with 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside. Taste and add sugar as needed...a touch of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec isn't bad either.
2 cups heavy cream
8 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a chilled bowl whip the cream as fast as you can without creating a mess. Add the sugar gradually and the vanilla when the cream is stiff-when it starts holding the pattern of the beaters. Stop beating when the cream is spoonable. If the cream starts looking grainy, you've overwhipped it.
Serving plan A - Serve the sauce over a small dish of whipped cream.
Serving plan B—Make a Fool.
Whipped cream recipe from above
1 cup strawberry sauce from above
Gently fold the sauce into the cream with a rubber spatula. You may not use a cup of sauce since it's hard to predict how watery any given strawberry sauce will be you'll need to use your judgment over how much to fold in before you get a runny fool. You can make this in advance and it'll thicken in the refrigerator, but after several hours it will sort of separate. Not to worry, you can thicken it up with a few strokes of a hand whisk.
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created June 2000
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