Rhubarb and elderflower fool

Rhubarb Fool Collage

Could there possibly be two more quintessentially English ingredients than rhubarb and elderflower, I wonder? (Now that I’ve written it, even the word quintessentially looks quintessentially English.) For me, these two flavours perfectly conjure up an English summertime and they come together so beautifully in that oh so English of desserts, the anything but foolish fool.

My daughters and I picked bags full of elderflowers from the fields at the back of our house a few weeks back and we had a go at making ourselves elderflower cordial for the first time. I can’t believe I’ve never made it before. It’s the most deliciously refreshing of drinks, especially when mixed with sparkling water, which we took to calling elderflower fizz.

To use up the last of the cordial I whisked it into double cream and the end result was so incredibly fragrant and divinely delicious I could have eaten the whole lot straight from the bowl just as it was. But instead I combined it with a rhubarb puree to create the most heavenly fool imaginable. Yes, this pudding is most definitely an English summer in a glass.

 

Rhubarb and elderflower fool

Serves 8 to 10

700g rhubarb
juice of 1 orange
80g caster sugar
300ml double cream
4 tbsp elderflower cordial

Chop the rhubarb into 1 inch chunks and place in a saucepan with the orange juice and caster sugar. Place over a low heat and bring the rhubarb to a gentle simmer.

Cook the rhubarb slowly and stir occasionally until the rhubarb is tender and beginning to fall apart. Remove from the heat before it’s completely turned to mush, and leave to cool before placing in the fridge.

Put the double cream and elderflower cordial in a large bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Taste, and whisk in a little more cordial if you think it needs it.

Spoon a little of the chilled rhubarb puree into glasses or bowls, followed by some of the elderflower cream. Continue layering until each glass or bowl is full. Serve as it is or perhaps with a little shortbread biscuit on the side.

rhubarb and elderflower fool

As this is such as superb summer pudding, I’m entering it into August’s Four Season’s Food event hosted by Delicieux and Chez Foti, for which the theme this month is Summer Puds.

fsf-summer1

Low-fat fruit fools

Plum and stem ginger fools

Fools are one of my favourite puddings. There is nothing finer than the combination of sweet, almost syrupy cooked fruit folded into gorgeously indulgent whipped cream.

I’m intrigued as to why they deserve the name fool, as there is nothing foolish about this desert in my eyes. All I’ve manged to discover is their first mention is in England during the 15th/16th century, along with that other great favourite of mine, the trifle.

The problem is though they really don’t do any favours for my ever-expanding waistline. I’ve taken the decision recently to try to eat a little more healthily. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going overboard. Just a few tweaks here and there – a little less butter, a few less carbs, watching those portion sizes, avoiding the biscuit tin in the office, and controlling my passion for double cream.

So I’ve tried out a couple of healthier takes on the traditional fool and the results have been rather pleasing. Both times I served them up for dinner guests and both times they went down a storm.

The first was a plum fool and I replaced all of the whipped cream for low-fat Greek yoghurt. When my husband heard what I was doing, I could see the disappointment in his eyes. A fool without cream? That’s like a hot crumpet without the butter! But there was no need for despair. The almost fat-free fool was a complete and utter triumph and still felt naughtily indulgent and satisfying and, well, everything you’d expect from a proper pudding, but without all the calories. Fabulous.

I followed this a week later with a rhubarb fool. This time I went for a half-cream half-yoghurt combination.

My (almost) low-fat rhubarb and stem ginger fool

Again it was delicious and certainly more creamy, but I wouldn’t say it was any better than the plum version for the inclusion of cream. So I proudly present a pudding that is delicious without being too bad for you. You decide whether to use cream and yoghurt or just yoghurt – it all depends on how happy you are with the size of your waist I guess.

Both fools feature crystallised stem ginger quite heavily too, as I happened to have a jar in. But if it’s not one of your favourite flavours, feel free to omit. Replace the syrup in the recipe with some runny honey or icing sugar.

Plum and stem ginger yoghurt fool

Serves 4

5 plums, stoned and quartered
1 ball crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped, and some of the syrup from the jar
2 tbsp demerara sugar
Splash of orange or apple juice
300ml low-fat Greek yoghurt

Place the plum quarters, ginger and sugar in a saucepan with a splash of fruit juice. Cover and cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes until the plums are soft. Leave to cool.

Stir a tablespoonful or two of the syrup from the jar of crystallised ginger into the yoghurt.

Spoon a layer of the yoghurt into the base of four glasses or small bowls, followed by a layer of the plums. Continue with alternate layers of yoghurt and plum until they’re all used up. Keep chilled in the fridge until you are ready for them.

A pair of plum fools

Rhubarb and stem ginger fool

400g rhubarb, cut into inch long chunks
1 ball crystallised stem ginger, finely chopped, and some of the syrup from the jar
3 tbsp demerara sugar
Splash of orange or apple juice
150ml double cream
150ml low-fat Greek yoghurt

Place the rhubarb chunks, ginger and sugar in a saucepan with a little of the fruit juice. Cover and cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes until the fruit is soft. I like the rhubarb to be just turning mushy but still has a little bite. Leave to cool.

Stir some of the syrup from the jar of crystallised ginger into the yoghurt.

Whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks and then gently combine with the yoghurt.

Pour half of the cooled rhubarb into the cream and yoghurt and mix together gently.

Divide the remaining rhubarb between four glasses or small bowls and then top with the rhubarb, cream and yoghurt mix. Chill in the fridge until it’s time for pudding.

Creamy rhubarb fool