Mrs. H. F. Bronson’s Currant Raspberry or Strawberry Whisk (dairy-free, no refined sugar)

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In my Wayback Playback series, I take an old-fashioned recipe, usually from the 1800s or 1900s, and revamp it so it’s more modern and more in line with the principles of holistic nutrition (e.g. whole, real foods, dairy-free, gluten-free, sometimes grain-free and often with substitutions offered to make it vegan friendly). Hope you enjoy this first installment!

 

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This week I’m revamping Mrs. H. F. Bronson’s Currant Raspberry or Strawberry Whisk recipe. It’s described as a “delicious sweet” and consists of fruit, sugar, lemon juice and cream. The original recipe appears here on page 393.

From what I can gather, Mrs. H. F. Bronson (Editha) was a lovely lady, as well as a wealthy, charitable and community-oriented woman. Editha’s husband Henry Franklin was a lumber baron in Ottawa, Ontario, back in the day. Together they had three sons and one daughter.

On April 4, 1880, the Bank Street Presbyterian Church was vandalized and set on fire in what was described as a “wicked act of incendiarism”. The damage was severe, the interior defaced and repairs took over four months to complete. In the meantime, Editha was not one to rest on her laurels: she and a few friends banded together to write a cookbook called The Canadian Economist, which sold for $2.00, to raise money for rebuilding efforts.

The preface of the book seems to agree with my thoughts that we learn a lot more by doing something than by simply reading about doing something.

“MANY “Cookery Books” are written by people who never kept house ; who give the theory, but forget that practice is as necessary to accomplish anything like success in this as in every other attainment in life. Such is not the case, however, with the compilers of, and contributors to, this book. Many of them have learned their lessons well from that arbitrary teacher, “Experience”. [source]

So make this recipe, will you! It’s easy and a treat and it likely comes from a woman who knew her way around a kitchen.

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And of course, I can really support the spirit of rebuilding a community through food and good old-fashioned home cooking. Editha contributed several of her recipes to this cookbook, including “Home-made Yeast” and “Another Ice Cream” (can you really have too many?)

The idea of a “whisk” at least in terms of dessert might be unfamiliar to you… as it was to me. I couldn’t find any information about it, either. However, I have heard of a fool and I think this recipe was intended to be similar. A fool dessert consist of fruit folded into stiffly beaten whipped cream and it’s an English dessert that supposedly dates all the way back to the 16th century. Although British, the name apparently comes from the French word fouler, which means to press or crush (as in the case of the fruits that are pureed or mashed before being folded into the whipped cream).

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Unfortunately, they aren’t common today (unless they go by another name in Canada and if so, please feel free to educate me), which is a shame, because they are wickedly simple to make and just as easy to eat. They are also an ideal make-ahead dessert. You can easily vary the fresh fruit you use based on what’s in season locally as well as the texture (a smoother, more blended fruit purée or a more rustic, slightly chunkier purée).

Mrs. H. F. Bronson adds lemon juice, probably because fruit almost always benefits from lemon juice, which brightens fruit’s natural flavours and helps them sing. She adds (a lot of) sugar to sweeten. I think Editha probably also had sizeable biceps from whisking all that cream until it was thick… gratefully, today we have immersion blenders.

But you don’t even need one of those for this recipe. In fact, although I use one to get the “cream” super whipped, you don’t even need a hand blender. You don’t even need a whisk! Whipped dairy-free cream that doesn’t even require any whipping?

Really?

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Really.

My key ingredient is thick, luscious and dairy-free. It makes a texture similar in texture and thickness to stiffly whipped cream… any guesses what it is? Keep on reading to find out…

My goal was to make over this recipe so it’s dairy-free and much lower in sugar (10 oz. is about 1 ½ cups of sugar). Unless your fruit is unusually sour, for example if you’re using rhubarb or gooseberries, I can’t imagine why you would need this much sugar. Even with desserts, I aim for a healthy balance between delicious and healthy. It’s entirely doable too (and it starts with avoiding white, heavily processed sugar!)

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So, without further ado, here’s my revamped version of this recipe, which I’m calling a dairy-free Strawberry Fool:

Strawberry Fool (dairy-free, no refined sugar)

Original recipe developed by Ashleigh Grange, RHN.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of washed + extra to garnish if desired, sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey or substitute maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 can of full-fat coconut milk set in the fridge overnight to harden

Instructions

  1. Add the strawberries, lemon juice, honey (or maple syrup), and cinnamon to a blender. Process until smooth.
  2. Open the can of coconut milk. Gently scoop the top layer of solidified cream (it will be thick and likely solid, below which will be clear water) into a small bowl. Mix with a hand mixer, immersion blender, whisk or just stir with spoon for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Spoon 1/2 the whipped coconut cream into each serving glass. Gently fold 1-2 Tbsp of strawberry puree into each glass. Be sure not to over mix if you want to keep some of the red/white streaking.
  4. Top with sliced fresh strawberries if desired.

Preparation notes:

Not at all brands of canned coconut milk will separate properly so you may have to experiment with a few different brands until you find the ones you like. At the moment, I like Aroy-D. It’s not organic but it doesn’t contain guar gum or other ingredients. Unfortunately, organic coconut milk without additives is difficult (even impossible) for me to find locally in the small towns near me.

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This dairy-free Strawberry Fool is suitable for a special weekend brunch, a sweet breakfast or of course as dessert, which I’m sure Mrs. H. F. Bronson would approve of!

Life is a plate… Eat up!

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