Strawberry Cream Cheese Fool from Joanne Chang
I chose this recipe as one to excerpt from Joanne Chang’s Baking with Less Sugarbecause of its use of apple juice concentrate as sweetener. We love to see how sweetness can be added to recipes without granulated sugar. Her book is dedicated to reducing sugar, as in her Cinnamon Sugar Monkey Bread, or using alternative sweeteners such as honey, fruit juices, even dates and maple syrup. The addition of cream cheese adds tang and body to this simple fool. Make when berries are at their peak.
Excerpted with permission. Baking with Less Sugarby Joanne Chang (Chronicle Books, 2015). Photos Joseph De Leo.
Christopher never met a dessert that he didn’t like. Neither have I, for that matter. But I knew he must have tried something really special when he came home one night and raved about a blueberry fool that he had at our friend Esti’s restaurant, Sam’s. Rich, creamy cream cheese, jammy sweet blueberries, wedges of shortbread. It was like the best blueberry pie you’d ever eaten, deconstructed. I finally made my way over to Sam’s to taste it and agreed with him that it was divine. I knew I’d love it more if I could create a less-sweet version. This fool uses reduced apple juice to sweeten the fluffy cream cheese, and fresh strawberries are folded in at the last minute to make a delightful creamy, easy dessert.
- One 335-g/12-oz can frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
- 225 g/8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 120 g/½ cup crème fraîche
- 480 g/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¹⁄8 tsp kosher salt
- 520 g/4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered (halved if the berries are small)
- In a small saucepan, bring the apple juice concentrate to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the juice reduces to ¾ cup [180 ml]. It will thicken up, become syrupy, and boil a little slower as it reduces. Watch out that it does not over-boil or burn; you may need to decrease the heat as it thickens. To check to see if it is reduced enough, every now and then pour the juice into a measuring cup to measure it; if it is not ¾ cup [180 ml] pour it back into the saucepan to continue to simmer and reduce until it measures out to ¾ cup [180 ml]. Remove from the heat and cool in the refrigerator until cold to the touch.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or with an electric hand mixer), whip together the cream cheese and ½ cup [120 ml] of the reduced apple juice concentrate (reserve the rest of the apple juice for another use or discard) on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula to get all of the cream cheese whipped up. Add the crème fraîche and whip together to combine. Slowly drizzle in the cream and beat, still on medium speed, for 1 to 2 minutes more, or until the cream thickens and combines with the cream cheese mixture. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.
- Fold the strawberries into the cream cheese mixture, saving a few spoonfuls of berries to garnish the top of the fools. Portion the fools into bowls or glasses and top each with a generous spoonful of strawberries. Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.