It’s that time of the year when the summer season is delivering wonderful fruits and vegetables in abundance. It’s really difficult for me to choose one particular ingredient as my favourite, and as the season progresses, my favourites change.
For me, gooseberries are a quintessential British summer ingredient. I love their slightly hairy exterior and their face-pulling tart flesh. The gooseberry shrub/bush itself is fairly small and has very sharp spikes so take extra care when picking gooseberries as these spikes can do some pretty nasty damage.
Gooseberries are versatile and not only make fantastic puddings and baked goodies, they also go particularly well with rich meats and fish, such as duck, goose and mackerel. Gooseberries also make delicious curds, jams, chutneys and, believe it or not.
Once the season starts, we get a regular supply of gooseberries from our good friends Suvie and Piers from High House Farm in Sudbourne. The farm is about 10 miles from us, which makes it easy enough for us to make sure we never run out.
Early on in the season, the gooseberries start off being almost lime green in colour, and then as the season progresses they turn slightly yellow. Red (or light brown) gooseberries that are slightly sweeter (they are still tart though, so don’t be fooled by their colour!) are also available, but they tend to produce their fruit slightly later than the other varieties.
Mr P likes a creamy fool, whether it is a rhubarb or gooseberry fool. For this recipe, I opted to use half crème fraîche and half whipping cream to make the fool slightly lighter and I serve these delicious garibaldi biscuits with it. The sweetness of the garibaldis counteracts the sharp tartness of the gooseberries and the chewy currants provide added texture.
Ingredients & Method
For the garibaldi biscuits 75g unsalted butter, softened 75g icing sugar 1 small egg 100g plain flour 100g currants 1–2 tablespoons caster sugar, for sprinkling
For the gooseberry fool 500g gooseberries, topped and tailed 230g icing sugar 300ml crème fraîche 300ml whipping cream 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out fresh borage flowers, to decorate (optional)
First, make the garibaldi biscuits. Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Sift the flour over the creamed mixture and add the currants, then mix it all together but do not overwork the mixture. Transfer the mixture to a piece of cling film and flatten it roughly into a rectangle, then wrap it in the cling film and chill the biscuit dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour before cutting and baking (see Cook’s Notes).
Preheat the oven to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Put the chilled biscuit dough between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper and then roll it out to 2–4mm thickness. Remove the top sheet of baking paper and discard, then place the biscuit dough (leaving it on the paper underneath) on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes or cooked and golden brown (the baked mixture will be slightly soft and cake-like but the edges will have crisped up; it should be golden in colour but not too brown).
Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the baked biscuit dough with the caster sugar, then cut it into about 20 thin fingers while the mixture is still warm. Transfer the baked garibaldis (still on the paper) to a wire rack and leave to cool completely (as they cool they will crisp up a little more, but they should not be hard). Once cool, break them into fingers. Store the garibaldi biscuits in an airtight container in a cool, dry cupboard and use within 1 week.
For the gooseberry fool, prepare the sugar-baked gooseberries first. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Wash and drain the gooseberries, spread them on the prepared baking tray, then sprinkle over 150g of the icing sugar and stir to mix. Bake in the oven for 15–18 minutes or until cooked, slightly jammy and some of the gooseberries have burst and lost their shape. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely, then transfer the mixture to a bowl (see Cook’s Notes).
To finish making the gooseberry fool, put the crème fraîche, cream, vanilla seeds, the remaining icing sugar and 1 tablespoon of the cold gooseberry syrup (from the baked gooseberries) in a mixing bowl and whip together until the mixture forms soft peaks (be careful not to over whip the mixture).
To serve, select 6 serving glasses and spoon about half of the cold sugar-baked gooseberries into the bottom of each glass, dividing evenly. Top with the whipped cream mixture, dividing it evenly between the glasses, then finally top with the remaining sugar-baked gooseberries. Decorate with borage flowers, if you like, and serve each dessert with a few garibaldi fingers. Serve immediately.
The wrapped unbaked garibaldi dough will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen (as a rectangle or shaped into a log) for up to 3 months. If frozen, when required, simply defrost the dough in the fridge overnight, then roll out (or simply cut into slices, if using a log shape) and bake as directed above.
The oven-baked gooseberries can be prepared up to 3 days in advance, then cooled and stored in an airtight container in the fridge until you are ready to use them.