i pity the rhubarb fool

Suffering fools in my house:

Her: Would you like some rhubarb fool?

Him: Did you mean “do you want some rhubarb, fool?” or “do you want some rhubarb fool?”

Her: Both.

Him: I pity the rhubarb fool who rejects this hypothesis.

For the 0.31416% of my readers who understand this is a statistics joke, made “popular” by the Graduate Student Statistics Department T-Shirt Committee at Berkeley in the 90s, probability=1 that you laughed. The rest of youse fools, well, yeah, I only laughed after I finally persuaded my love to give the t-shirt to Goodwill in, like, 2005.

So this is a celebration of spring cleaning, and spring produce, too. Our CSA bag yielded three lovely stalks of pink rhubarb, and I had some leftover whipped cream from yesterday’s strawberry shortcakes, so I thought I’d whip up a quick fool. Rhubarb Fool is an old English dessert, not always the prettiest girl on the block, but can be lovely and even wild. In all cases, it is a combination of chopped, cooked rhubarb, mixed with sweetened whipped cream. One can puree the rhubarb or, as I did for my quickie, leave it chunky. It’s a nice, light combination of tart and creamy, bitter and sweet. In short, my ideal dessert. My version is very simple, and features Fee Bros. peach bitters, which brings out both the fruitiness and the bitterness of the rhubarb. The darker in color the rhubarb is, the darker the puree will be, but beware: rhubarb loses its color to the water, so you want to make sure not to use too much water, and reincorporate water into the puree.

I Pity the Rhubarb Fool

Serves 2

  • 3-4 medium stalks spring rhubarb
  • 3 T. sugar or xylitol (a sugar substitute that tastes just like sugar), or to taste
  • 5-6 shakes Fee Bros. peach bitters
  • 1 cup freshly whipped cream (please use real cream), sweetened with sugar and a bit of liqueur like Cointreau or Hungarian barack palinka (apricot)
  • fresh mint leaves for garnish

Slice rhubarb into 1-inch chunks, place in non-reactive saucepan with sugar and enough water to barely cover chunks. Simmer until soft but not dissolved, stirring occasionally. When fruit has softened, taste and adjust for sweetness. You may decide you’d like it sweeter. Remove from heat and let cool.

While fruit is cooling, whip up your whipped cream to soft peaks, adding sugar and liqueur to taste. Chill in refrigerator.

Spoon fruit into small glasses or bowls and chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours. Top desserts with whipped cream and garnish with a couple of mint leaves, if you have them.


2 thoughts on “i pity the rhubarb fool

  1. Linda Peterson Adams 12 April 2014 / 8:22 am

    Besides BBQ sauce, do you have a recipe for using rhubarb as a savory item? I tried using in salad, but I will have to mulch the stalks next year to blanch it, I think.


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