Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream

This is probably an odd pick of recipe from April Bloomfield’s beautiful cookbook, A Girl and Her Pig. The young British chef has made a name for herself cooking with animals and all forms of fat. Those recipes looked great, but I got stuck on this one for a fool (like a fool?). For anyone who doesn’t know what a fool is, (insert joke about you being a fool—somebody stop me!) it is a decidedly British treat of fruit and cream. It is about as simple and satisfying as a dessert gets and good for everyone to have in their bag of tricks. There are so many awesome flavor possibilities, but here we are at the start of the growing season and the first “fruit” out of the gate is rhubarb.

Glorious rhubarb, which I seem to love more every spring, is available in abundance right now in Chicago. This fool is a great recipe to start with, but then you should also consider making one of my favorite tarts, or a buckle, or even some soup.

Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream and Pistachios (adapted from April Bloomfield, A Girl and Her Pig)


  • 1 1/4 pounds of rhubarb, topped and tailed, then sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1-2 teaspoons rose water (or to taste)

Toss the rhubarb and sugar in a medium pot. Add the white wine. Use a knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla pods into the pot, save the pod for another use. Place the pot over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is very tender but pices are still more or less intact, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Once the rhubarb has completely cooled, stir in the rose water.

Cardamom Cream

  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Smash the green cardamom pods, discard the husks and pound the seeds in a mortar and pestle until finely ground. Add the sugar to the mortar and pound briefly to combine.

Combine the creme fraiche, heavy cream, and cardamom sugar in a large mixing bowl. Chill until ready to serve. When ready to serve, whip until fluffy and the cream holds soft peaks.

To assemble the fools: Use 4 8-ounce glasses, or a large glass bowl (use glass to see the pretty layers!). Layer the rhubarb and whipped cream and top with chopped roasted and salted pistachios. Cover the fools and let them chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving.

42 comments to “Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream”

  1. Your photos are gorgeous! I’ve never made a fool, but this one sounds wonderful.

  2. Beautiful! Rhubarb and rosewater play so well together :)

  3. Wow – complex flavors going on here. + Love that last photo, a fool and a cigarette for dessert (sorry, couldn’t help it). :)

  4. Looks delicious! May I ask what the difference is between heavy cream and crème fraîche?

  5. Hi Emilie- Creme fraiche is heavy creamed that has been soured. It is less sour and creamier than sour cream. It adds some tartness and richness to the whipped cream. I add a small amount of it, or sour cream, to any whipped cream I make. It makes the flavor more interesting.

  6. Hey! I clicked over (from email inbox) because I am a fool for fool, for rhubarb, and for puns, and then I noticed…the saucers!! Those are my grandma’s!! and I have never been able to find them; though I do have a gravy boat. So now, I like you even more. Also, to me, cardamom=grandma, so I am filled with warm fuzzies and a taste for fool. Pun intended!

  7. I think we will try this and link back to you. Thanks for the inspiration. Love the use of cardamom and rose water… one of my most darling spices as the Steward. The best thing about living in the Middle East is the access to spices. Living in Dubai may be hot as hell half of the year, but that makes it so worthwhile!

  8. This is a very British dish but with an interesting spice twist which works so well with rhubarb. I love the colours and the rosewater is something I enjoy using too. I bought some organic rose petals recently and made shortbread with it. Really works!

  9. I LOVE the idea of rosewater and cardamom. I will have to try this!

  10. Oh my gosh, but those pictures sell this! And I’m not even a big sweets fan. The cardamom-flavored cream is a wonderful idea and must complement the rhubarb beautifully.

  11. I also have a recipe for rhubarb fool bookmarked. i love the addition of pistachios here, and anything with cardamom always wins my heart ;).

  12. Oooh I am such a fan of April Bloomfield! Maybe it’s not so weird that you were drawn to a rhubarb fool, as I notice she’s quite good at the whole deliciously comforting dessert thing. Last week at la Domestique was rhubarb week, and I’m still not tired of cooking with this first “fruit” of spring. I’ve got some stewed rhubarb in the fridge leftover, and it should go into this fool for dessert tonight.

  13. Lovely photos! And it looks like something worth being a fool for. ;)

  14. Oh that looks so good!

  15. Wow, this looks insane! Rhubarb is one of my favorite Chicago treats (not to mention mixed with cream, ahhh)–can’t wait to make this!

  16. I am currently obsessed with this cookbook as well–in fact, I just blogged about it, albeit in a very different context, under the heading “What do you read when you’re not reading?” here: http://60secondrecap.tumblr.com/. But returning to the matter at hand, this is one of the recipes I bookmarked to try right away. I’m also intrigued by her crepe-like pancakes with chili flakes. The salty-sweet porridge, which I made for breakfast the other day, was delicious.

    As always, love your photos. Weck jars are great, aren’t they?!

  17. goldenblind221 says:

    May 16th, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    those tuiles are gorgeous, and I’d be a fool not to try your fool. Very inspiring.

  18. I love the little dessert cups you used! Where can I get some like them and are they oven safe?

  19. Hi Shea- they are Weck canning jars.

  20. I think we’re on a wavelength here. I posted a rhubarb fool with cardamom and pistachios on my blog yesterday. Happy, bright pink, tart and delicious coincidence :) Yours looks delightful.

  21. Oh, seeing your green cardamom pods vs my not-so-green pods makes me realize just how long I’ve had my cardamom. Oops! And served in weck jars? Nice!

  22. Ooh beautiful! Nigel Slater has a recipe for rhubarb fool as well, but the cardamom in this one seems too lovely to pass up. Excited to make it!

    (p.s., Your raspberry rhubarb crostata from last year is still one of my favorite rhubarb recipes.)

  23. I have worked quite a bit with cardamom, but this one is new and I’m amazed with this “fool”. I’m glad I saw it. Great recipe.

  24. Rhubarb & cardamom, two of the coolest kids in school.

  25. Delicious! I love the addition of creme fraiche to the whipped cream, as did our two-year-old guest, who couldn’t stop eating it.

  26. Elizabeth Madden says:

    May 20th, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    stunning fools. Simple and perfect.

  27. You posted this right as I decided that I thought that I had eaten my fill of rhubarb for this spring. I’ve made rhubarb slump, rhubarb chutney, rhubarb custard and rhubarb jelly. But I am so happy that I made your rhubarb fool! It was delicious and I am finding that I am enjoying the leftover batch a day later even more!

  28. Marcella says:

    May 21st, 2012 at 9:22 am

    The rhubarb was not too sweet and the cardamom was really a treat. Unfortunately, the rose water took over the suttle flavors of both. I will definitley enjoy this recipe again but will leave out the rose water. Perhaps 0.5 tsp of rose water instead of 2 tsp might do the trick…perhaps I measured wrong…

  29. this is so beautiful! I had never even seen cardamom pods before.

  30. Hi Marcella- preference for rose water seems to vary quite a bit. I liked the 2 teaspoons, but obviously you like less. I’ll update the recipe to indicate that folks should add as much as they like. Thanks for checking in!

  31. This looks like all of my favorite things in one dessert: rhubarb, rosewater, cardamom, creme fraiche… and booze! Stunning photos, as always.

  32. Thanks Tim for the creme fraiche / heavy cream explanation. Living in continental Europe the default option is always creme fraiche, which then comes in “epaisse” = heavy and solid or “legere” = light and liquid options. Should i mix both?

  33. Oooh, I am making this for my Mom and Dad this weekend when they are visiting us at the ranch. Yip, yip, yippee! Thanks so much for the easy recipe.

  34. Hi Tim!

    This looks like a perfect summery dessert. This is especially ideal since I no longer have an oven for the summer! Also, I’ve just moved to Alaska where rhubarb is considered a weed. It grows everywhere and because of the long hours of daylight, the plants grow to an enormous size – I have never seen rhubarb like this before. And the beauty is that everyone gets to pick as much rhubarb they want for free! Which actually makes up for the oven-less apartment!

  35. If there are any European and in particular French readers reading this blog: in this recipe, crème fraîche = crème fleurette, and heavy cream = crème fraîche épaisse. I tried the recipe yesterday and it was delicious, thanks Tim!

  36. Wow. This looks delicious! Absolutely love your blog, and certainly know why it has been rated so well! Thank you for sharing!

  37. Emilie! Thanks so much for the clarification.

  38. I just made a strawberry rhubarb fool, but I love the use of cardomom in the cream– I’ve been looking for uses for the cardomom pods I just got at the middle eastern store!

  39. wow awesome combination,seems very unique.looking very delicious hmmmmm.my mouth is filling with water

  40. Came upon this recipe the other day, via fb, and was drawn in by the beautiful photo. I am going to make it today but will be substituting my own fresh goat cheese for the creme fraiche…cannot wait to share it with the family.
    Thank You!!!

  41. Looks great1 I need ideas to use my rhubarb otherwise it is cooked in the same [ boring] way every time. Where would I buy rose water in Australia, I wonder?

  42. just looking at this makes me long for early spring and pink forced rhubarb…

What do you think?