Gooseberry Fool is like a British summer in a bowl. This easy to make, creamy, sweet-tart dessert is a delicious treat, keeps well in the fridge, and is perfect for entertaining.
What on earth is a gooseberry?
Gooseberries have funny little stems (tops and tails) on each end and they can be kind of fuzzy. Normally a bright, jewel-like green, you can also find red, pink and even purple gooseberries from time to time. Green gooseberries are not the sort of fruit you want to eat raw – before they are cooked they are almost unbearably sharp and tart. However, pink, red or purple gooseberries, often called dessert gooseberries, are fairly sweet.
Properly prepared, gooseberries are a gorgeous summer treat, redolent of a beautiful British summer day. Gooseberry jam is absolutely delicious, and I will happily abandon my healthy eating resolutions for a good gooseberry pie.
Incidentally, while the Canadian in me would pronounce the name of this fruit as ‘Gooseberries’, saying ‘goose’ like the bird and ‘berry’ as well, ‘berry’, here in England it’s pronounced ‘Guzburry’. I’ve never quite understood this. Okay, ‘berry’ is pronounced ‘burry’ in most parts of England but we say ‘goose’ similarly to North Americans when referring to the species of bird. It’s just one of those great British mysteries – like why ‘Derby’ is pronounced ‘Darby’, ‘shire’ as ‘sheer’, ‘Birmingham’ as ‘Birmingum’ and Reading, as Redding.
How to Prepare and Eat Gooseberries
Anyway, pronunciation notwithstanding, despite how much I loved gooseberry fool, jam and pie, I never really felt comfortable preparing this curious little fruit myself until back in 2013, when I first saw them at Q Gardens, still one of my favourite farm shops in our area. My friend Katie explained that once you’ve topped and tailed the gooseberries they can be cooked whole in pies and crumble recipes just like blueberries. Or you can gently stew or poach them on the stove top.
Topping and tailing just means to cut the tiny brown stem from the top and the little green ‘tail’ from the bottom of the berry. This is easily done with scissors. If you want to make Gooseberry Fool, you need to gently cook the berries first with a little water and some sugar. Once you they are soft and broken down, the puree you are left with is lovely served over cereal or mixed into yogurt as well as being used to make my favourite Gooseberry Fool recipe.
And so, my first Gooseberry Fool post went live in July 0f 2013.
A lot has changed since then, so I decided to update the post with new photographs and all of the things I’ve learned about Gooseberry Fool in the last five years!
Gooseberry Fool – a British Classic
Fool is a classic English dessert traditionally made with sweetened cream and pureed fruit. It’s been around since the sixteenth century and it’s a great way to use up fruit that it is a bit over ripe or on the tart side. My recipe incorporates yogurt to try to make it a bit healthier.
Making a Healthier Gooseberry Fool
I say ‘try’ because you really do need to add sugar to gooseberries and as the other ingredient is double (heavy) cream, making this dessert healthy is a bit of a gargantuan task. It does, however, taste delicious, and in moderation it’s just lovely.
While my first Gooseberry Fool recipe only used green gooseberries, I now find mixing them with red or purple gooseberries makes for a sweeter dessert, without having to add any more sugar. With gooseberries as hard to come by as they are, I suggest you use whatever varietie(s) are available. This dessert is too good to miss out on!
Fool can be prepared a few hours in advance of serving, so they are great for entertaining as it’s easy to make them ahead. A little goes a long way so I like to serve the Gooseberry Fool in martini glasses or my late Mom’s vintage tea cups. I also like to garnish the fools with fresh mint, if I happen to have any growing on my windowsill or in the garden.
Gooseberry Fool can be served with Pistachio Crescents or other light cookies or biscuits alongside if you like.
Gooseberry Fool – Printable Recipe
- 2 cups fresh gooseberries, washed, topped and tailed
- 4 tablespoons granulated or caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup St Germain liqueur or undiluted elderflower cordial
- 1½ cups double (heavy) cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- fresh mint leaves to garnish
- Place the prepared gooseberries in a saucepan.
- Stir in the 4 tablespoons of sugar and water.
- Heat over a very low heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit begins to break apart. This will take between 10 and 15 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir the gooseberries, breaking any remaining pieces of fruit down so that it becomes a rough puree. Don't worry about the seeds. They are very soft and completely edible.
- Let the mixture cool. When cool, refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
- Remove the gooseberry puree from the fridge.
- Drain away any runny liquid using a sieve.
- Stir the St Germain liqueur or elderflower cordial into the gooseberry puree.
- Whip the cream and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Whip in the yogurt.
- Fold the gooseberry puree very gently into the cream and yogurt mixture. You want to be able to see ripples of gooseberry puree.
- Spoon gently into 6 serving dishes.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve (up to 4 hours).
- Garnish with mint leaves before serving.
St Germain is a liqueur made from elderflowers.