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  • Writer's pictureThe Wild Foodie

Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Sometimes you just don’t have time to go out and make an elderflower cordial so here is a dessert that uses Elderflowers in their natural state, straight from the tree. This delicious dessert serves 4 greedy people (probably 6 normal people) and takes very little time to make. You are going to need some Muslin though, pop down to your local cookshop and get some, you can re-use it over and over and it is so useful!

History of the 'Fool'

The recipe for "fool" is a traditional English dessert that dates back several centuries. It is a simple and delicious dish made by combining cooked fruit, such as gooseberries, with sweetened whipped cream. Here is a brief history of the fool recipe:


The exact origin of the fool is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in England during the medieval period. The word "fool" is thought to have derived from the French word "fouler," meaning to crush or press, which describes the process of mashing or pureeing the fruit for the dessert.

Early Recipes:

The earliest documented fool recipes appear in English cookbooks from the 16th century. These recipes often featured ingredients such as berries, apples, or gooseberries, which were cooked and then combined with cream or custard. Some recipes also called for the addition of wine or spices for flavour.

Popularity and Variations:

Fool became a popular dessert in England during the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly among the upper classes. It was often served at elaborate feasts and banquets. The recipe evolved over time, with variations that included different types of fruits and flavourings.

Evolution of Ingredients:

Originally, fools were made with tart fruits, as they provided a contrasting flavour to the sweetened cream. Over time, the use of fruits like raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and rhubarb became common in fool recipes. Today, a wide variety of fruits can be used, depending on personal preference and seasonal availability.

Simplicity and Accessibility:

One reason for the enduring popularity of fool is its simplicity and accessibility. It requires minimal ingredients and preparation, making it a straightforward dessert to make at home. The combination of tangy fruit and rich cream creates a delightful balance of flavours.

Modern Variations:

In contemporary times, fool recipes have expanded to include non-traditional flavours and ingredients. Some recipes incorporate different types of creams, yogurts, or even vegan alternatives. Some variations also incorporate biscuits or crumbled cake for added texture.

Continued Enjoyment:

Fool remains a beloved dessert in the UK and is enjoyed in other parts of the world as well. It is often served during the summer months when fresh fruits are abundant. The versatility of the recipe allows for creative adaptations and experimentation with different fruit combinations and toppings.

Overall, the fool has a long history as a classic dessert in the UK, evolving over the centuries while maintaining its simple charm and delicious taste.

Learn to forage your own fruit and flowers. Visit our Wild Food and Foraging book shop.

Oh, and if your really lucky you might have been really lucky and been able to forage the native or Wild Gooseberry!

Gooseberry and Elderflower Fool Recipe


450g Gooseberries - top and tail them

4 tbsp Water

10 heads Elderflower

3 tbsp Golden Caster Sugar

1 Tbsp Icing Sugar

Rind of half a Lemon

300ml Double Cream

Firstly wrap the Elderflower heads in Muslin and tie the bag securely. Place the gooseberries in a large pan with the caster sugar, the muslin bag, the lemon rind and the water - then bring to the boil. Gently cook until the gooseberries are soft and begin to release their juices. Once the gooseberries start to break up your there, help them on their way a little with a fork making sure there is no whole gooseberries left. Using a spoon remove the lemon rind and the muslin bag from the mix. Make sure you squeeze all of the juices out of the bag into the gooseberry puree mix, then set aside and allow to cool.

Now add the Icing sugar to your cream and gently whip until you get to soft peaks and then gently stir in the half of the gooseberry mix trying not to knock the air out of the mix.

Now to plate up.. I use tall large cocktail glasses! In one of the cocktail glasses spoon in a large spoonful of the cream (to be a little flash pour it in on the slant). Now spoon a spoonful of the gooseberry puree onto the cream. Build layers of the two until the glass is full and then repeat the process until all of your glasses are full.

Now you can refrigerate the puddings until ready. To serve you can decorate with more elderflowers (just the Elderflowers, stalks removed), some finely chopped mint or even some broken meringues or digestive biscuits, its simply up to you!

One way or another this tongue tingling, sharp but sweet pudding is a lovely finish to a meal and this classic pairing of elderflower and gooseberry is simply lovely.

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