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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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fools have been a popular British dessert for many centuries. Nowadays they are usually a simple mixture of mashed or puréed fruit (raw or cooked, as appropriate), mixed with custard or whipped cream, although crème fraîche or yogurt are sometimes substituted. Fools are particularly suited to northern fruits such as gooseberries, raspberries, rhubarb, and damsons, but apples, blackberries, peaches, or more exotic fruits such as mango can also be used.

The name fool may be derived from the French fouler, meaning “to press” or “to crush.” However, many early recipes in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries contained no fruit and were merely a kind of custard made of cream, eggs, and sugar, often flavored with spices, rosewater, or orange flower water. See flower waters. A likely explanation of the name is that fools, like trifles and whim-whams, are light and frivolous, mere trifles. In the early days, the words “fool” and “trifle” were frequently used interchangeably.