Given Israel’s rainy winter days, most folks tend to forego ice cream during the cold months. There were years, in fact, when you couldn’t find ice cream at all during the winter. But you still need something to munch along with the endless cups of café hafuch, Israel’s version of the cappuccino. Enter the Krembo.
This chocolate-dipped marshmallow treat, the name of which means “cream-in-it,” was first developed by the Danes and brought to Israel as a homemade sweet in the 1940s, before entering mass production twenty years later. These days, Israelis eat about 50 million of the metallic blue-wrapped confections each year, some nine per capita during the brief October-through-February season.
Vanilla is the classic Krembo flavor, although there are those who favor mocha – other flavors never succeeded with local palates. And it turns out that the secret to Krembo making isn’t that complex, but it will take about three days to put together a homemade version of this Israeli treat. Israeli pastry chef Karin Goren uses chocolate-covered crisped rice and Nutella spread for the bottoms of her Krembos, with white chocolate and mocha cream in the middle, covered with a crunchy chocolate casing. Other recipes go for a more traditional shortbread cookie bottom and a fluffy egg white-based middle.
With that soft inside and firm exterior, some say that the Krembo represents the ‘New Israeli.’ If the prickly Sabra fruit was always the symbol of the rugged Israeli, tough on the outside and soft on the inside, the Krembo takes the discussion to a new level, with an ersatz hard shell on the outside and a yielding, pleasing middle. Call it the pseudo Sabra.