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Rhubarb Fool Recipe


Rhubarb Fool

The fool originated in England in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. It is a simple dessert that combines tart fruit with whipped cream. The British traditionally made this dessert with gooseberries, but in spring rhubarb is the perfect choice, with its bright, tart flavor. A very simple dessert to prepare (we wince to say any fool can make it), this recipe calls for cooking a compote and then folding in whipped cream. It is elegant served with a shortbread cookie, which adds a delicious crispy element. To really doll it up, add a candied rhubarb strip. 


For the candied rhubarb strips:

  • 1 stalk rhubarb
  • ½ cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup water

For the fool:

  • 1 ½ pounds rhubarb, trimmed and sliced ½-inch thick (about 4 cups or 1 pound prepped)
  • ½ cup honey
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger
  • ½ vanilla bean, split
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar


For the candied rhubarb strips:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or lightly greased parchment paper.

Cut the rhubarb into 6-inch lengths, then cut each piece into strips ¼-inch to 1/8-inch thick with a good peeler, a mandoline, or a well-positioned knife. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved, then remove from the heat. Dip the rhubarb ribbons into the syrup, then place them on the prepared baking sheet, laying them out flat and ensuring that they do not touch each other.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until dry. While they are still warm, twist the strips into shapes, wrapping them around your finger or the handle of a clean wooden spoon. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

For the fool:

Put the rhubarb, honey, orange zest and juice, candied ginger, vanilla bean, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine, then cover and cook, stirring every few minutes, for 10 minutes, until the mixture has come to a boil and the rhubarb has softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then remove the vanilla bean. Transfer the compote to a bowl, and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes, until very cold.

Whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form, either by hand or using an electric mixer on medium speed. Set aside 1⁄3 cup of the compote to garnish the dessert, then fold the remaining compote into the whipped cream. Spoon the fool into six ½-cup glasses or dishes and chill for 1 hour before serving topped with the remaining compote.