A dessert consisting mostly of fresh cream and fruit can barely be called a recipe, and yet gooseberry fool is a classic dish that can be traced back to Elizabethan times. With British gooseberries now in season, it is the perfect time to serve this summery pudding. After all, what could be more enjoyable than clouds of cream swirled with bright green berries, served with a shortbread biscuit or two.
As with most simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients is key. The freshest gooseberries you can find from your local greengrocer or farmers' market and thick yellow Jersey cream. The original recipe is very simple, but other flavours can be added such as elderflower, which complements gooseberries so beautifully. You can also make the fool with red dessert gooseberries later in the season, but I would reduce the quantity of sugar to taste if you do this. I prefer the gooseberries to retain a slight tartness as a foil to the richness of the cream, but it is all down to personal taste.
There is much advice on how to make the best shortbread. Some advocate just flour, butter and sugar, gently bought together, will make the most tender crumbly biscuits. Others say that shortbread should have a slight crunch. I prefer my shortbread to have some texture, especially when served with such a creamy dessert, so I have added ground rice but you could also use polenta. Any leftover shortbread will keep in an airtight tin for up to a week.