Rhubarb Fool! What to do with all that rhubarb

It is officially spring when I walk outside my door and there are stalks of rhubarb standing tall in my garden. To date rhubarb and strawberries are the only edible things I’ve managed to grow. Every year the rabbits and squirrels wait until the strawberries are perfectly formed and just about to turn red, then they systematically eat them all. So, in the end all I am left with is my huge patch of rhubarb. It may be why I love it so much, because I feel a sense of accomplishment.

This year will be different. I have signed up for the Backyard Harvest Project. They assigned me a master “urban” farmer, Stefan, and we will work the land together. My city farm is tiny, no more than 10×14′ of organic growing space. This is apparently enough room to grow about 30 varieties of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. So far we’ve prepped the land, shoveled loads of beautiful black organic dirt, planted leeks, cauliflower, spinach, peas and radishes. The beauty of this program is that Stefan is here to make sure that in the end I have a bounty of produce. In other words he makes sure I won’t kill it. He even installed a fence today to keep out the rabbits. Hmmm, perhaps I’ll get strawberries this year after all. *

The spring “fool” came to me on Twitter. @francis_lam, who is a writer for Gourmet magazine posted that he had some fresh heavy whipping cream and asked what he should do with it. I thought, rhubarb Fool!  It is a classic British dessert made of cooked, sweetened fruit that is folded into whipped cream. There is nothing as simple, and yet just a touch decadent. I wonder where the name comes from??? 😉

Fresh cut rhubarb | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

my first rhubarb of the spring! 🙂

Rhubarb Fool:

4 cups coarsely chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup Lillet or other sweet white wine

1/4 cup sugar, more to taste (but don’t make the rhubarb too sweet or you lose its lovely tang.)

1 cup heavy whipped cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Strawberries for garnish

Cooking down rhubarb in pot | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

In a medium sized sauce pan heat the rhubarb, Lillet and sugar until gently simmering. Cover the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.

Cooking down rhubarb | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Or until the rhubarb is very tender.

Rhubarb in a glass container | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Pour into a container and refrigerate until totally chilled. I stuck it in the freezer for about 15 minutes and it did the trick.

Whipping cream and vanilla to stiff peak | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Once the rhubarb is chilled whip the cream and vanilla together until soft peaks. Don’t over whip or your fool won’t be smooth.

Slowly fold 1/3 of the rhubarb into the whipped cream. Add another 1/3 of the rhubarb and gently fold it in.

Reserve the last 1/3 of the rhubarb for layering or pouring over the top of the fool.

Rhubarb Fool Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

You can serve it in glasses with a layer of fool, then the reserved rhubarb and more fool. Decorate with a sweet strawberry. This can all be made a couple of hours ahead.

* Stay tuned for a page that is dedicated to the unfolding of the my “urban farm!”

31 thoughts to “Rhubarb Fool! What to do with all that rhubarb”

  1. A link to your blog was posted to Epicurious.com, so today is my first visit. Your post about rhubarb made me laugh — I had similar problems with my veggie garden. And this year, the groundhogs are nibbling on all my flowers just when they bloom.

    I look forward to reading. Just wanted to say thanks.


  2. Wow, that is so simple! I LOVE rhubarb…will have to try this.

    Also, you’ve inspired me to try to plant some rhubarb for next year – thanks! 🙂

  3. Lovely rhubarb, I don’t know why mine is not that pinkish rosy but more green than red.
    I will try this recipe.

  4. Oh thanks for this! I’ll be up to my eyeballs in CSA rhubarb so I’m always glad for something new to do with it. Do we get to see the garden??

  5. Oh, I am sooo jealous. I’ve lived where it’s too hot to grow rhubarb for two years now. It’s the one garden goodie I miss the most! (Homegrown tomatoes with flavor come in at a close second). I’ll have to file this one away until I’m back in 4-season land! Thanks 🙂

  6. what a lovely use of edible violets. They are all over my neighborhood right now, and I walk to the train station in the morning thinking, I can eatchoo, and eatchoo, and eatchoo too!

  7. Rhubarb, you lucky devil. I’m driving my favorite produce guys nuts at the markets asking for it and today they said “none this year”. I mean honestly, no rhubarb? Impossible to grow here otherwise we’d have one big patch where the back yard should be. Enjoy some for me, OK?

  8. Just sent Congratulations to you on Twitter for the new book. I don’t know if you got it. I make rhubarb compote. So good with anything. Love the pictures.

  9. So nice how you can get the leaves intact on your rhubarb. They usually only sell the stalks here, which I imagine causes a hit on freshness.

  10. Hi bearing,

    it depends on the size of your “farm!” They can do a free consultation if you are interested. My friend went in on it with me so that we’d be sure to use up all the produce.

    Thanks! Zoë

  11. Zoe, I certainly envy you “all that rhubarb!” I planted mine last year in my southwest Michigan plot. I have another year or so before I see any sort of harvest. In the meantime I scoop up as much as I can at the farmers market. I thought you’d enjoy this compote that I use on shortcakes: http://www.rustickitchen.com/blog/?p=47
    More simple than so many of your elegant creations, but delicious nonetheless.

  12. This looks beautiful and fools are so simple…ha ha…but they taste divine. I am a lover of rhubarb and am in the middle of figuring out some recipes right now…rhubarb and mint gelees covered with chocolate is the goal…wish me luck and thanks for this delicious post!

  13. Good job on growing your own strawberries and rhubarb! My only attemp at growing strawberries was a sour failure 🙁
    This fool looks great 🙂 Awesome way to highlight rhubarb’s flavour 🙂

  14. Hey Zoe, saw you and your backyard farm in the SW Journal — fun! How many rhubarb plants do you have? I planted my first one last year. Will it provide me with at least one recipe?

  15. Hi Laura,

    Yes, you should get a bunch of recipes from one plant. Just keep cutting off the larger stocks and never let it flower. I use it up until July, then it starts to get too woody. Some varieties are more tender than others.

    Enjoy! Zoë

  16. I made this for a dinner that included 3 kids so I sweetened the whipped cream with a little powdered sugar (not much!) and everyone ate every bite! It was a lovely, not-too-sweet, seasonal, elegant dessert.

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