Gooseberry fool

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This luxurious gooseberry fool recipe from Louise Robinson is the ultimate in simple summer luxury. Served with crisp, buttery shortbread biscuits, this classic dessert is perfect for a get-together.

First published in 2016
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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.




Gooseberry fool

  • 400g of gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 70g of caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra set aside
  • 200ml of double cream
  • icing sugar, to serve
  • 1 sprig of mint, to serve


  • 250g of unsalted butter, softened
  • 120g of caster sugar, plus 1 heaped tbsp for dusting
  • 90g of ground rice, or polenta
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 370g of plain flour, salted


First, make the shortbread by beating the butter until soft. Gently fold in the sugar, ground rice and salt and mix until combined
Add the sifted flour, combining lightly but firmly until the mixture comes together. The mix will still be quite dry and crumbly
Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper and tip the mixture into the tin. Press the dough down gently with your fingers so that it is even. Place in the fridge for an hour
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 3
Remove the shortbread dough from the fridge, sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the top and press down gently
Place in the oven and bake for 50–60 minutes until the shortbread is a pale golden colour
Leave the shortbread to cool for 10 minutes, then slice into fingers in the tin. Decorate the top by pricking with a fork if you wish. Let the shortbread cool completely before removing from the tin
Meanwhile, place the gooseberries and 70g of the sugar in a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Simmer gently until the gooseberries start to soften and break down, which should take around 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar to the cream and lightly whip until thickened, but not too stiff
Lightly mash the cooled gooseberries, leaving some intact, and swirl through the cream with a metal spoon. Spoon the fool into 4 glasses and chill until ready to serve
Add a sprig of mint and a dusting of icing sugar if you wish and serve the fool with shortbread fingers
First published in 2016

Louise Robinson is a former fashion accessories designer turned freelance food writer, stylist and photographer now based in the Sussex countryside.

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