You’d have to be a fool yourself not to make fool your go-to pudding at this time of year – not only is it delicious, it’s also stupidly quick and easy to knock up, which means it’s just the thing to make with young children. You can make it with just about any fruit you like, turn it vegan, dress it up for a special occasion or make it so healthy, you could even have it for breakfast. Fool: it’s surprisingly clever stuff.
Prep 15 min, + cooling
Cook 15 min
450g rhubarb, or other seasonal fruit (see step 1)
5 tbsp sugar
300ml double cream, chilled
100ml Greek yoghurt, chilled (optional; see step 6)
1 Pick your fruit
It’s still early summer, so I’ve suggested rhubarb, but you can use your own favourite fruit. Most don’t even need cooking (see step 5), but of those that do, you can swap gooseberries, fresh currants or apples for the rhubarb, or use apricots, peaches or plums that aren’t quite ripe enough to eat raw. Add sugar to taste, because different fruits need different amounts.
2 Chop the fruit and add sugar
Roughly chop the rhubarb into short sections (there’s no need to chop up currants or berries, but you’ll need to chop and stone peaches, etc), then put in a medium pan with four tablespoons of sugar.
Caster sugar melts nice and quickly, but any sort will work (brown sugar has a particularly nice flavour), or use honey or golden syrup instead.
3 Alternative sweeteners
If you like, swap out some of the sugar for a flavoured syrup: rhubarb works well with half sugar, half ginger syrup (from a jar of stem ginger), while gooseberries are lovely with elderflower cordial, but play around with what you have to hand. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could also add some finely grated orange or lemon zest, or some fresh ginger, to the pan.
4 Cook the fruit
Put the pan on a medium-low heat and cover. Cook until the fruit is tender and you can pierce it easily with a fork, then take off the lid, turn up the heat slightly and leave it to bubble away until some of the juice has evaporated – don’t worry if rhubarb disintegrates or berries burst.
5 Drain and cool
Taste the cooked fruit, remembering that it will be hot, and add more sugar, if need be. Pour into a sieve set above a bowl to catch the juices, then leave to cool. If you’re using fruit that doesn’t need cooking, remove any stems or stones, roughly chop it if it’s big, then mash to a chunky puree with a fork and stir in the sugar (icing sugar is best here).
6 Whip the cream…
Pour the chilled cream into a large bowl and use a whisk (or electric beaters or a food mixer) to beat it until it stands up in soft, droopy peaks. I mix in a little yoghurt to make the fool a bit lighter, but you can use 400ml cream, or drain off the liquid from 400ml yoghurt to make it really thick and use that instead. Vanilla seeds are a good addition, too.
7 … or a vegan alternative
To make your fool vegan, substitute a mixture of thick, plant-based yoghurt and whippable, plant-based cream for the above, or whizz up 300g drained silken tofu in a food processor until smooth, then fold in 100ml whipped plant-based cream. Brands vary, so you may need to chill it until it solidifies before folding in the fruit.
8 Add the fruit
Gently fold the cooled fruit into the whipped dairy, so you get a ripple effect, rather than a smooth mixture; take care not to be too rough, or you’ll knock the air out of the cream.
Serve at once, preferably in a glass bowl, with the cooking juices in a jug for people to pour on top. Or refrigerate the fool, covered so it doesn’t absorb any other flavours from the fridge, until you’re ready to eat it.
Turn the fool into an Eton mess by folding in crumbled meringue along with the fruit, or mix things up with pieces of biscuit, mini marshmallows, granola, honeycomb, chocolate chunks, caramel sauce, pieces of birthday cake … the only limit is your imagination. To turn your fool into a showstopper, pile it up in a large dish, cover it in hundreds and thousands or edible glitter, and add some birthday candles.
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