- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

So many celebrations this time of the year involve a large cast of family and friends. As joyous as these occasions are, you can feel overwhelmed and crave a little intimacy.

An afternoon tea for two is just the right antidote. Invite a close friend or your partner to share a soothing cup of tea, dessert and a couple of hours of relaxation.

For a sweet that’s both easy to make and delightful to serve, put a fool on the menu.

This old-fashioned dessert is a combination of pureed fruit and whipped cream.

Although it is commonly served in England and Ireland, it’s rarely prepared in the United States, which is a shame.

As simple as a fool is, the final results are far more elegant and luscious than the description might suggest. The froth of fruit and cream piled high in a glass goblet makes a lovely presentation, and the flavor of fresh fruit and whipped cream is a heavenly indulgence.

You can make a fool from most fruits, but juicy berries, which are at their peak this time of the year, are particularly good.

Choose fruit with a distinctive sweet, slightly tart taste for the best results.

Shortbread makes an appealing addition to the afternoon repast. You can buy shortbread cookies, but making a batch from scratch isn’t difficult.

To save time, you can make shortbread dough in advance, shape it into a log and refrigerate it for later baking. If you’re really ambitious, you can keep shortbread dough in the freezer and plan tea breaks throughout the summer.

If you’re not in the habit of brewing tea, here’s how it’s done:

Fill a kettle with cold tap water. Bring the water just to a boil, but don’t let it continue boiling. Rinse a teapot with hot tap water to help keep the tea hot.

Measure loose tea into a tea basket or other tea holder, allowing to 1 teaspoon tea per cup, and place it in a teapot. If you like strong tea, add a pinch for the pot.

Add the just-boiling water to the teapot; cover. Let the tea brew for 3 minutes.

Remove and discard the contents of the basket, and serve the tea.

Pistachio shortbread

cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar plus extra for dusting, if desired

1 cup flour

1/4 cup shelled, chopped, salted pistachio nuts (see note)

Combine butter and confectioners’ sugar in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until light. Gradually add flour, 1/3 cup at a time, and beat until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl before adding more flour. Stir in nuts by hand.

Shape batter into 16 balls, each about 1 inch in diameter, using about 1 tablespoon batter for each. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with fork to 1/3-inch thickness.

Bake in preheated 300-degree oven for 25 minutes or until cookies are set and faintly browned. Remove to wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Makes 16 cookies.

Note: If using unsalted pistachio nuts, add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the batter.

Raspberry fool

1 cup fresh raspberries

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, divided

teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/3 cup whipping cream

Crush raspberries in a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and lime juice. If desired, refrigerate up to 24 hours. Beat whipping cream in bowl of electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Stir in remaining tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.

Fold raspberry mixture into whipped cream. Spoon into 2 tall stemmed glasses to serve.

Makes 2 servings.


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