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Gooseberry fool is a traditional British desert. A typical fool consists of sweetened, whipped cream combined with fruit, which may be cut into pieces or cooked and sweetened. Gooseberry fool is made with gooseberries, a tart, juicy type of berry native to Europe and other areas of the Old World but primarily popular in England and Europe. Gooseberries may be green, yellow, pinkish, or red, are round in shape, and may have a coating of fine, fuzzy hairs.
Different varieties of gooseberry exhibit a fairly wide range of differences. Like many traditional regional dishes, a gooseberry fool may have different variations. Certain characteristics are found in almost any dish of this type, however. A typical gooseberry fool as prepared in England uses tart green gooseberries, and since most gooseberry fools require the gooseberries to be cooked prior to final assembly of the dish, some time and preparation is usually required.
The berries are washed, separated from their stems and tails, and cut in half before being mixed with sugar and cooked. They may also be gently mashed. Cooking the fruit with sugar causes the resulting mixture to thicken, and gooseberries are rich in pectin, a naturally occurring compound which creates a gelatinous texture in fruit purees when mixed with sugar and heated. Pectin is what gives jams and jellies their characteristic texture. The fruit mixture is then cooled, usually under refrigeration.
Fresh, sweetened whipped cream is the other main ingredient in a traditional gooseberry fool. Fresh heavy cream is mixed with sugar and whipped with a wire whisk or electric mixer until thick. Powdered or confectioner's sugar is usually used for this, as it dissolves better in the cream than granulated sugar, which can give the whipped cream a slightly grainy texture. Some cooks add vanilla or other flavorings, such as elderflower cordial, to the cream.
Once the cooked berry mixture is cooled and the cream has been sweetened and whipped, the whipped cream is folded into the berry mixture. Folding is a technique in cooking in which two ingredients are gently mixed together with a spoon or rubber spatula. It blends the components while preserving the light but thickened texture of the whipped cream. After the berry mixture and the whipped cream are folded together, they are chilled again for a few hours which gives the mixture a chance to set, preserving its whipped cream-like texture.