Victorian Cooking

Georgian Cookbook: Gooseberry Fool

To be fair, gooseberry fool is a recipe that’s never gone away. The recipe I started with is Georgian, but I could easily have picked a Tudor one. Unlike last week’s pickled limes, this is yummy and so, so easy.

First, here’s Hannah Glasse’s recipe from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy (1747):

Take two quarts of gooseberries, set them on the fire in about a quart of water; when they begin to simmer, and turn yellow, and begin to plump, throw them into a cullendar to drain the water out; then with the back of a spoon carefully squeeze the pulp, throw the sieve into a dish, make them pretty sweet, and let them stand till they are cold. In the mean time take two quarts of new milk, and the yolks of four eggs, beat up with a little grated nutmeg, stir it softly over s slow fire, and when it begins to simmer, take it off, and by degrees stir in the gooseberries, let it stand till it is cold, and serve it up. If you make it with cream, you need not put any eggs in; and if it is not thick enough, it is only boiling more gooseberries; but that you must do as you think proper.” – Hannah Glasse

Before We Begin:

Instead of going full method, I recommend eschewing the fire in favor of your stove. I used 300 g of gooseberries because that’s what I had, but 400 g would probably be more authentic. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so I might use a bit less sugar next time. Perhaps stick with the 70 g, at least the first time you make this. If you can’t get gooseberries, any reasonably tart berry would do. I bet raspberries would work particularly well.


Since I’m not a society hostess, I reduced the ingredients down to make four fools.

  • 300-400 g of gooseberries, topped and tailed
  • 70 g of caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra set aside
  • 200 ml of double cream
300g gooseberries. You’re supposed to use fresh but these were from a can.


Place the gooseberries and 70 g of sugar in a saucepan and place over medium heat.

Sugary gooseberries

Simmer until the gooseberries start to soften and break down, which should take around 10 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar to the cream and lightly whip until thickened, but not too stiff. Mash the cooled gooseberries, and swirl through the cream with a spoon. Being me, I totally forgot to swirl and mixed mine thoroughly, which is why they look like this:

Not as pretty as if I’d remembered to swirl.

Spoon the fool into 4 glasses and chill until ready to serve. The photos don’t do them justice:

The Verdict:

So good! These were light and creamy with a delicate flavor. (If I’d remembered to swirl instead of mix, the contrast of the cream and the tart gooseberries would have been even better.) This really is a lovely dessert and with hardly any effort.

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