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Rhubarb Fruit Fool Tested Recipe

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Today's Fruit Fools are made with cooked or raw fruit that has been puréed or mashed, sweetened, chilled, and then folded into whipped cream. In the past Fools were made only with tart fruits such as raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, loganberries, or rhubarb but today virtually any fruit is used. The word "Fool" is believed to have originated from the French word "fouler" which means "to mash" or "to press".

There are a few things to keep in mind when making Fruit Fools. Anytime you use fresh fruit there is no way to know, without tasting, the exact amount of sugar needed. So start with the amount given in the recipe but add more sugar, if necessary. The Fruit Fools can be assembled several hours in advance of serving. An elegant presentation is to place the Fools in long stemmed parfait or wine glasses and you may want to garnish each glass with a fresh berry.

Lately I have found it increasingly difficult to find fresh rhubarb in grocery stores, even during its harvest time. The ideal solution, of course, is to grow your own but if that is not possible, then you can use the frozen chopped unsweetened rhubarb that is sold in 1 pound (454 grams) bags. If you use frozen rhubarb you do not have to thaw the rhubarb before baking, although the baking time may have to be extended a bit.

It took a long time for rhubarb to be recognized as a food and not just as something to be used for its medicinal purposes (as a laxative). It is believed to have originated in Asia and it started to be sold as a food sometime around 1815 at London's Covent Garden Market. We know that around this same time period it made its way to America and by 1855 the first recipes for Rhubarb Pie were being published. Rhubarb is too sour to be eaten raw so it needs to be cooked and sweetened with sugar. Rhubarb purée can be used not only for Fruit Fools but also in ice creams, sorbets, mousses and cream. It is best for the purée be made the day before it is needed so it has time to firm up and the flavors to blend. 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix together the rhubarb, sugar, and orange zest and place in an ovenproof dish. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 45 - 60 minutes or until the rhubarb is nice and soft. (Frozen rhubarb takes about one hour while fresh rhubarb may take only about 45 minutes.) Check and stir the rhubarb after 30 minutes. Once the rhubarb is soft, remove from oven and drain in a strainer suspended over a bowl. Press the rhubarb to force out the juice. There should be about 1/2 - 2/3 cup (120 - 160 ml) of juice. Place the juice into a small saucepan and boil the juice until reduced by half. Let cool.

Purée the rhubarb in your food processor or blender until smooth. You should have about 1 - 1 1/4 cups (240 - 300 ml) of purée Add the strawberry purée and reduced rhubarb juice to the rhubarb purée taste and add more sugar if necessary. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled (overnight is best).

For the Fruit Fools: Whip the cream until soft peaks form.  With a large rubber spatula gently fold in the rhubarb mixture. (You want the fruit fools to have streaks of the white cream showing where the purée was not completely folded into the whipped cream.) Place in six serving glasses You can make the fruit fools several hours in advance of serving. Cover and refrigerate. Almond Shortbread cookies make a nice accompaniment.

Makes 6 servings.

References:

Ayto, John. An A-Z of Food & Drink. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Lawson, Nigella. Forever Summer. New York: Hyperion, 2003.

Root, Waverley, Food. New York: A Fireside Book, 1980.

Recipe:

1 pound (454 grams) rhubarb (fresh or frozen) cut into 1 - 2 inch (2.54 - 5 cm) pieces

1/2 cup (105 grams) light brown sugar

Zest of one orange (optional)

1/2 cup (120 ml) strawberry puree

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream

Note:  You can also make a strawberry purée from fresh strawberries. Simply place 1 cup of cut up strawberries into your food processor and process until the strawberries are puréed. Add sugar to taste.

 
 
     
 

 

 

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