Friday, April 2, 2010

Pity the Fool!

What better day than April Fool's Day to make a nice and tasty fool?

This British dessert is a great way to showcase seasonal fruits. Usually, the fruit is pureed and then blended with whipped cream and egg whites to give it a fluffy, mousse-like texture. Occasionally the fool is then layered with cake or pastry to dress it up.

Jamie Oliver has a better version in his excellent book Jamie At Home. I made it recently to celebrate the delicious rhubarb which is so abundant right now, and I found this recipe as quick and easy at it was delicious. It got rave reviews at our table, especially from guests who had never had rhubarb before. And it came together so quickly and easily that I was still able to enjoy hanging out with my guests.

By the way, if you don't already have a copy of Jamie At Home, you need to get one. It's all about fresh, simple food made from homegrown ingredients, and it includes gardening tips, seasonal cooking, and even a chapter on wild game. The photography is so sensuous it borders on the pornographic, and the writing style makes it the kind of cookbook you can curl up to read on a rainy day. And, as you will see here, the recipes are fantastic.


For the rhubarb compote:
1 lb rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
1/3 cup sugar or vanilla sugar *
Juice of 1/2 an orange **

For the wafers:
3 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Piece of frozen puff pastry

For the flavored yogurt:
2 cups plain yogurt
zest of 1 orange
1 heaped tablespoon honey

* I used 1/3 cup sugar plus 1 tsp vanilla; next time, I will substitute 1/4 cup honey.
** I used all the juice of the whole orange just because I wanted to.

Jamie says: "Get yourself a small pan and throw in the rhubarb, sugar and orange juice. Put a lid on top, bring to the boil for a couple of minutes, then remove the lid and simmer for a few more minutes until you get a thick compote consistency."

Meanwhile, sift the confectioner's sugar and cinnamon onto a clean countertop. Cut 4 slices about 1/2" thick from the puff pastry, then roll each slice out to 1/4" thick, turning it over a few times as you go so that it gets coated in the sugar and cinnamon. Cut the strips in half so you have long triangles, then fry those triangles in a hot dry skillet until golden brown on both sides. Cool them on a rack.

Mix the yogurt, honey, and orange zest together in a bowl. You can do this ahead of time and keep it chilled; you can also make the compote and pastry triangles ahead of time too and just assemble when you're ready to serve dessert. To serve, glop some yogurt onto a small plate or into a pretty glass bowl, then top it off with some rhubarb and pastry, and repeat the layers.

Welcome to April, Fool!


  1. Perfect choice for today! And I'm going to file this away to try sometime - maybe this will FINALLY be a way I can enjoy rhubarb. I'm willing to keep trying!

  2. I can't imagine not loving delicious sweet-tart rhubarb, but if you were going to enjoy it in any incarnation, this would be it. If I recall, it's the texture you didn't care for, no? Here it's stewed down into a nice thick compote and you can't find that celery texture anywhere in it. The vanilla and orange really play nicely with the creamy yogurt and cinnamon puff pastry, so there's a lot going on; it's not just HELLO RHUBARB! like it is in a pie. Let me know if you try it! (It's Jamie Oliver, after all. How could you not love it?)