Sunday, 27 December 2009

Red Currant Fool - or Gooseberry Fool, if you choose

The richness of this dessert is offset by the tang of the fruit   The only variation in the recipe for the different fruit may be the amount of sugar required - adjust according to taste. 

The basic method is simplicity itself: take any quantity of red currants or gooseberries and simmer with a little water along with about a third of the weight of fruit in sugar.  Gooseberries may require more than currants.  When the fruit is mushy take it off the heat and strain into a bowl by pushing the mixture through a fairly fine sieve to remove the skins and stalks.  In the bowl underneath you'll now have a delicious syrup - very simple!  Chill it and then fold in a little whipped cream.  Serve in party glasses with pretty teaspoons if you have them.  It's scrumptious!

When I made this for four of us I used about 500 grams of currants and about 160 grams of sugar.  Once these were in the pot I added enough water so that I could see it but it didn't cover the fruit.   The fruit is so juicy that it rapidly contributes a lot of its own liquid!  I might have whipped about a cup of cream.  The important thing is to fold the cream into the fruit, rather than the fruit into the cream as you don't want to overwhelm the flavour of the fruit.  Surprisingly, the cream seems to bring out the flavour of the fruit, so that one gets more of its delicate piquancy in the 'fool' than in the syrup by itself.  Both are delicious however. 

I liked this so much I preserved some of the syrup so that I could enjoy it during the winter months.

LATER NOTE:
Following further experimentation I find I prefer the chilled syrup served just as is with the whipped cream on top rather than mixed in.   

These summery delights are the perfect accompaniment for fruit loaf, Christmas cake or fruit mince pies.

Other fool recipes: 
In a favourite book entitled "Miss Mapp" by E F Benson, red currant fool is a prominent feature at the bridge parties of a rather stuffy set of middle aged Edwardian characters, and on one memorable occasion we see the appearance of a very different version.  This extract is from page 43:
'I believe I was wrong,' she said. 'There is something in it beyond egg and cream. Oh, there's Boon; he will tell us.'
She made a seductive face at Boon, and beckoned to him.
'Boon, will you think it very inquisitive of me,' she asked archly, 'if I ask you whether you have put a teeny drop of champagne into this delicious red-currant fool?'
'A bottle and a half, Miss,' said Boon morosely, 'and half a pint of old brandy. Will you have some more, Miss?'
Miss Mapp curbed her indignation at this vulgar squandering of precious liquids, so characteristic of Poppits. She gave a shrill little laugh.
'Oh, no, thank you, Boon!' she said. 'I mustn't have any more. Delicious though.'
Major Flint let Boon fill up his cup while he was not looking....

I've written more about red currants in my later article:
And more about gooseberries, most of which can be found here:
Leigh in the kitchen ~ click here to find all my recipes and food articles

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