Cookies for a Fool

July 27th, 2011 / Comments 0

Our son Matthew came to Vermont late last week. He lives in England, has been doing research in Indiana and will be at a conference in Paris in two weeks. His visit was the perfect opportunity to make cookies for a fool. The cookies were old fashioned, ice-box cookies flavored with browned butter and almonds and the fool, certainly not Matthew, was a dreamy, creamy concoction of fresh and frozen berries, heavy cream, sour cream and a bit of sugar.

Strawberry 1 Cookies for a FoolBy doing all the preparation the day before his arrival, the flavors in the berry fool had time to develop and the cookie dough was ready to be sliced and baked when we got back from the airport.We have a tradition of playing word games on car trips. We haven’t been together since our time in Sicily and have lots of catching up to do, but, when we ran out of news and needed a game to help pass the miles, I challenged Matthew and Charles to name the six basic cookie styles. I wondered if either of them had ever heard of icebox cookies? Almond-browned butter cookies will be a great introduction to the icebox cookie category. Here’s how I made the dough:

Almond-Browned Butter Icebox Cookies

I put one cup, two sticks, of unsalted butter into a saucepan over medium heat. The butter melted, foamed up and began to gurgle. I reduced the heat and stirred the simmering butter. After cooking for about eight minutes, the butter was golden and had a mild, nutty scent. I removed the pan from the heat and stirred in two cups of packed, light brown sugar.

I combined three cups of flour, one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt on a piece of waxed paper. I used a mini food processor to finely chop one cup of blanched almonds and added them to the flour mixture. I beat two eggs into the butter sugar mixture and then stirred in the flour almond mixture.

I divided the dough into thirds, shaped each third into a log, wrapped each log in plastic wrap and put them into the fridge. The dough will be ready to slice and bake when it has become firm – a minimum of a couple of hours. Since I didn’t bake the cookies till the next day, the dough had a nice, long rest. When we got home, I preheated the oven to 375º, cut one log of dough into quarter-inch slices, and baked the cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet for six minutes, until they were just set. They became crisp as they cooled. Over the next few days, I replenished the cookie jar with freshly baked cookies in less than ten minutes with virtually no mess to clean up.

Download and print cookie recipe with an ingredients list here.

On to the fool! The earliest recipe for fool dates to the seventeenth century and calls for fresh gooseberries but it’s the twenty-first century and I had fresh strawberries and frozen black berries in the fridge so I made berry fool. Here’s how:

 Berry Fool

I used a mini food processor to puree half a cup of sliced fresh strawberries and half a cup of frozen black berries. I combined the berry puree with two tablespoons of sugar and half a cup of sour cream. I beat half a cup of cold, heavy cream until stiff peaks formed, and used a spatula to fold the whipped cream into the berry/sour cream mixture, covered the bowl with foil and put the fool into to the fridge to await Matthew’s arrival. The fool thickened as it rested.

A bowl of berry fool, freshly baked cookies and a wiggling, fuzzy Gracie, our new puppy, made for a homecoming filled with love.

We did play cookie trivia and although Matthew and Charles weren’t able to give the “proper” names for all of the cookie styles, their list was creative – spoon for drop, knife for bar, fork for molded, syringe for pressed and cutter for rolled. Neither of them knew about icebox cookies until I served the still warm cookies with the lovely, pinky–purple berry fool.

Download and print Berry Fool recipe with an ingredients list here.

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