I could talk about how summer is so very hot (not here) and you don’t want to turn on the oven. I could say here’s what to do when you have a profusion of berries (not here, yet), and want to make something simple with them (yes, here). We are so drawn to: It’s fast! It’s simple! It’s only four ingredients!

This is all true. But it’s not what I want to say.

As you know by now, I am a dessert pro. A sweet hound. I’d spend all day icing cookies if I could, or perfecting a lemon meringue tart. Even if you wouldn’t spend a day that way, I suspect you’d appreciate the eating of either one.

What I want to say has something to do with the long winter we just had. Turns out “real winters” make for “real produce,” even if a little tardy. Last year we had early hot summer with a late frost, netting nary an apricot and hardly a berry.

But now? Now we are poised for an onslaught. It’s so exciting I’m almost nervous (as in: so much produce, so little time). I had a taste of it recently when I was in Chicago and the market was busting at the seams with red berries, a whole slew of varieties of strawberries to choose from.

Of course I picked the Herriots for their floral quality, the aroma of which could be detected from the neighboring tent. These berries act as though they’ve already been perfumed with the gentle, ever so slight rose water that I want always when I eat most anything strawberry.

I still haven’t said what I want to say, have I? OK, it’s this: strawberries that are long-awaited, full-blooded, red through and through, floral in scent and sweet—these berries deserve to be eaten in a way that makes them taste even more like themselves. It’s like the ideal relationship, one that brings out the best in you so that you are even more you when that other person is in your life than you would be just on your own.

For me, his name is Dan. For strawberries, his name is whipped cream. Together, they are strawberry fool, scented just barely with rose water.

Make this, and you will taste strawberry at its very best. You will do so with ease, whipping your cream and cooking the berries into an  intensely delicious compote, then folding the two, chilled, together. The combination is nothing short of wow, Wow, WOW.

You will never turn on the oven, and your ingredient list will be short.

But the main reason you will make this (again and again) is because summer has arrived, and you want its nectar to taste just exactly like summer should. Incredible.

Strawberry Rose Fool
This recipe is based on one from a wonderful new book, Bakeless Sweets, by my friend Faith Durand of The Kitchn. I wrote a short piece on Lebanese rice pudding for the book, which includes terrific chapters on puddings, jellies, and my favorite, fools. Serves 6.

1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups strawberries, chopped
Few drops of rose water
2 tablespoons water

Whip the cream with 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a medium chilled metal bowl, using either a balloon whisk or a mixer. When the cream is whipped to soft but sturdy peaks, transfer it to a glass container and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Cook the strawberries, sugar, rose water and water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the berries have broken down and are fragrant. The compote will seem very liquid, but it will thicken some as it chills. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until it is completely cold.

In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula to fold all but a few tablespoons of the compote into the whipped cream. Gently fold the whipped cream until the mixture is incorporated.

Spoon the fool into 6 small bowls or glasses. Chill for 1-6 hours before serving, with the reserved compote drizzled over the top. A plate of chocolate cookies is a perfect pairing with this.

Print this recipe here.

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