I think I've mentioned a few hundred times how amazing the local strawberries have been this year & how it looks like I just got my last batch. We were really tempted to just eat them over ice cream but I like to experiment with new things. So, I began searching the internet & found a recipe for Strawberry Fool Tartlets from Bon Appétit February '96. A fool is a classic English dessert which combines fruit purée & whipped cream. The idea of using it to fill tarts fits perfectly with my love for small batch baking.
The recipe included a pastry crust recipe that every reviewer hated so I knew I wouldn't be using that part of it. I figured I'd just use one of the crusts from Small Batch Baking. But then I started thinking about a cookie crust. I wondered how shortbread cookie dough would work so I decided to experiment.
I used the shortbread cookie recipe from Small-Batch Baking, just leaving out the nutmeg, which worked perfectly for 2 tarts. It held its shape nicely when being removed from the tart pans. It tasted wonderful with the strawberry fool. The only downfall was it was pretty hard. I was really difficult to cut into it with a fork, I found it easier just to pick up the tart & bite into it. Perhaps pastry would have been a better way to go but I love the flavor of shortbread cookies.
The fool itself was really beautiful. It had a creamy, fresh flavor & set up nicely thanks to the gelatin. It is a bit time consuming to make only because of the amount of time it needs to sit in the refrigerator. The finally setting time was supposed to be 4 hours, I only let it set 1 & I would say it was pretty close to completely set at that point.
Shortbread Cookie Crust
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 T + 1 t cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 T unsalted butter, room temp
3 T sugar
1 t vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the flour, cornstarch & salt together.
Place the butter, sugar & vanilla in a small bowl & beat with a mixer on medium until light & fluffy. Add the flour mixture & mix together with a fork until the dough comes together. Split into two balls.
Lightly butter two 4 1/2-inch tart pans with removable bottoms. Put one ball of dough into each, pressing it into all the sides & bottom. Pierce the bottom with a fork. Line the tarts with foil & fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place on a baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven & carefully remove the foil & weights. Put the tarts back in the oven & allow to cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.
Remove the tarts to a rack & let cool in the pans then, carefully remove crust from the pans before filling.
Makes 2 tart crusts
4-oz fresh strawberries, hulled, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 T sugar
1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t unflavored gelatin
1/4 c chilled whipping cream
Blend chopped strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in processor until almost smooth. Transfer to medium saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 20 minutes to soften.
Stir strawberry mixture over low heat until mixture is just hot and gelatin dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until beginning to thicken, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.
Beat cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture. Chill fool until beginning to set, about 30 minutes.
Spoon fool into crusts; reserve any remaining fool for another use. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
Fill two tart crusts with a little leftover.