These Vintage British Desserts Are Fit for a Queen (But Use 4 Ingredients or Less!)

Perfect for the time-pressed cook, these four vintage British desserts require only a few ingredients and equally few steps to make.

yogurt parfait with blackberry and mint in glass on rustic wooden tableShutterstock / Ekaterina Kondratova

Whether you’re pressed for time or just looking for an easy dish to satisfy your sweet tooth, these luscious vintage British desserts have what you need. Featuring whipped cream and fruit, they require little effort and few ingredients. When you crave a quick, delicious treat with a little across-the-pond flair, whip up one of these four velvety classics.

Fruit Fool

This one has a funny name (just like these other British foods), but is seriously delicious. For the non-Brits out there, a quick explainer: A fruit fool is simply a custard or whipped cream with pureed fruit folded inside. British cooks generally use gooseberries in their fools, any tart fruit, including rhubarb, raspberries or cranberries, will do.

To make this dessert, Take the back of a spatula or serving spoon, mash together cooked or raw fruit and a few tablespoons of sugar. When finished, the fruit will be pulpy in texture. Fold the mashed fruit into cold whipped cream. Place equal amounts of fool in decorative bowls and dig in.

Learn how to make whipped cream from scratch (and never settle for the can again) here.

Fresh mango and lime syllabub served in a dainty emerald green glass dessert dish garnished with mint and icing sugar on distressed green wooden work surfaceShutterstock / Louise Crouch

Syllabub

This British dessert has deep roots going all the way back to the 16th century! This frothy concoction contains cream and juice. To make, whisk together a cup of heavy chilled cream or premade whipped cream, the juice of one lemon and a half cup of sweet wine. Spoon it into a glass and serve immediately. Top with more fruit if you like.

Classic british summer dessert called Eton Mess.Shutterstock / Yulia Grigoryeva

Eton Mess

Invented in the 19th century at the English boys’ school Eton College, Eton Mess combines fresh strawberries and broken bits of vanilla meringue with whipped cream. Supposedly, the dessert got the name “mess” from someone dropping, and still serving, a strawberry and whipped cream-covered meringue.

For an Eton Mess, start with meringues; either store-bought or homemade (here’s our step-by-step guide to making meringues). Then put equal amounts of sliced strawberries, crunchy meringue pieces and whipped cream into small bowls. Swirl the ingredients together and serve. Remember, the messier it looks, the more authentic your Eton Mess will be!

Psst: If the name Eton College sounds familiar, it might be because it’s the alma mater of princes William and Harry. Plus, Eton Mess is one thing Princess Kate craved as she waited for the royal grandkids to be born.

cranachan with raspberry, whipped cream and roasted oatmeal in a glassShutterstock / Joerg Beuge

Cranachan

This Scottish creation contains whipped cream, honey, fresh raspberries and toasted steel-cut oats. On special occasions cooks might add a splash of whisky to the cream. Tradition dictates bringing bowls of each ingredient to the table and allowing guests to create their own. You can also make this a few hours ahead of time and refrigerate it until you’re ready for the final course.

To make the cranachan, place a layer of raspberries, followed by whipped cream, more berries, a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of oats in individual bowls. Top the oats with a dollop of whipped cream and another drop of honey. If you’re not serving the sweets immediately, refrigerate them until dessert time.

When you’re in need of a quick, sweet treat, look no further than these vintage British desserts. They’re fast and fabulous!

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Kathy Hunt
An alumnus of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, Kathy Hunt spent over 10 years as an internationally syndicated food writer, first for Tribune Media Services and then for Reuters Media Express. Her articles have appeared in such print publications as the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and VegNews and online at MSN, Yahoo! and Zester Daily. She is the author of two nonfiction books, "Fish Market" (Running Press, 2013) and "Herring: A Global History" (Reaktion, 2017), and contributed to three other books including "Start Your Own Microbrewery, Distillery, or Cidery" (Entrepreneur Media, 2015). A skilled photographer, Kathy shoots images for Shutterstock as well as for her articles. Along with her interests in writing, cooking and photography, Kathy is a passionate traveler. To date, she has journeyed through 47 countries and five continents, collecting recipes and stories wherever she roams. When she's not sharing tales and tips about food and travel, she works as a content manager, editor and cooking instructor. You can learn more about Kathy at www.kitchenkat.com.