Rhubarb Fool

By Marcus Samuelsson |

What’s better to do on April Fools’ Day than to eat a fool? The fool is a traditional British dessert that’s an oldie (dating to the 15th or 16th century) but very goodie, combining fruit and whipped cream. The earliest known versions were made with gooseberries (Fun fact! Cultivation of gooseberries were banned in the U.S. in the 1930s.), but this version features another spring produce star: rhubarb. The rhubarb is punched up with ginger and lemongrass, and and is folded into a simple whipped cream. It’s a perfect match — the tartness of the rhubarb cuts through the velvety richness of the whipped cream, which means you’ll want to eat as many fools as you can lay your hands on.


For the Rhubarb Compote

1 1/2 lbs trimmed rhubarb stalks

2 c sugar

1 1/2 c water

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, tender inner stalks lightly smashed and cut into 2-in lengths

3-in piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half

For the Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar


(Photo by Louise Vansleve)

For the Rhubarb Compote
1. Peel the rhubarb and cut it into 2-inch lengths. Slice each piece into 1/4-inch julienne.
2. Combine the sugar, water, lemongrass, and ginger in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and pod to the pan. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, and let stand for 20 minutes to infuse the liquid with flavor.
3. Strain the infused liquid and return it to the saucepan. Add the rhubarb and simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat. Let cool slightly, or let cool to room temperature.

For the Fool
1. Whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Fold the rhubarb compote and cream together, reserving a tablespoon of compote per serving for garnish.
2. Spoon the fool into clear glasses or bowls and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 hours. To serve, top the fool with compote.