"The English love a good fool, and a fruity old fool is even better. No, not the human kind — though they do delight in those as well — it's a fool for dessert."
Isn't that a great quote? Sorry I can't remember where I found it, but I can sure tell you about fools...
A fool is a traditional English dessert involving a puree of tangy, tart fruits mixed with sugar and whipped cream and chilled before serving. Supposedly the name of this dessert comes from the French verb fouler meaning pressed or crushed, and refers to the combination of crushed fruits and thick cream. It's a dish that's simple yet elegant. Fools, which date to the 1500s, share their British ancestry with syllabubs and trifles and may have laid the foundation for ice cream. They were custards originally, swirled with cooked and pureed fruit.
The British countryside is a paradise for berry lovers. It offers gooseberries, red currants, strawberries, raspberries."Blackberry fool was quite common; blackberries would have been in the hedgerows in August. Gooseberry also was common because they grew everywhere and they were easy to cultivate in your backyard." Of course nowadays, any fruit can be used: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango and kiwi, as well as other seasonal fruit. Like rhubarb!
When making fruit fools please keep in mind that anytime you use fresh fruit there is no way to know, without tasting, the exact amount of sugar needed. So tasting is very important here. Make sure you taste the sweetened puree and adjust the sugar as needed. The same is true when you mix the puree with the whipped cream.
I think you'll really like Nigella's recipe...after all, who would know better about making a fruit fool than a British chef?
Nigella Lawson's Rhubarb Fool
To quote Nigella: "Make sure you use the rosiest, reddest rhubarb you can; that monster stuff, dredged up almost khaki at the very end of August, will not quite do here. And it's hardly seasonal to mention it, but of course the pinkest, purest, pucest stalks are the forced kind. No matter, you will want to eat this whenever you can. If you haven't got any vanilla sugar to hand (though you can have, just by leaving a vanilla pod or two in a jar of caster sugar for a few days, even less if you cut the pod up), use ordinary caster sugar and add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the cream when you whip it."
1 kg ( a little over 2 pounds) rhubarb, trimmed and coarsely chopped
300g (1 1/3 cups) vanilla sugar
500ml ( I used 2 1/4 cups) double (heavy) cream
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Mix the rhubarb and vanilla sugar together in an ovenproof dish. Do not add water. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the fruit is completely soft. Drain in a colander, or sieve, and pour the juice (you should have about 2 1/4 cups or so) into a saucepan, then heat and let bubble away until reduced by about half. Pour into a dish and leave to cool; do not, however, refrigerate as the syrup might crystallize and lose its fabulous bright clarity.
Puree the fruit until totally smooth, then cool and chill this as well.
Whip the cream in a large chilled bowl until lusciously thick but not stiff.
Carefully fold in the rhubarb puree, then some of the reduced juice, so the mixture is streaked, rather like raspberry ripple ice cream. Pour some of the reduced syrup on top and then put the rest in a glass jug so that people can add more, if they want, as they eat.
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