Monday, November 09, 2009

A Mystery in "jello-like" form

When I was a teenager, an elderly Mrs Drachenberg, immigrant from Germany, invited my family for Thanksgiving dinner. That dinner would stay in my thoughts for more than 15 years.

Oh, her company was good, her stories of nazi Germany were spine-tingling- but her jello like dessert was the stuff of fairy-tale dinners. It was like a jello. Kind-of. But not really. It had fruit, and was topped with something that was very surprising to me as a teen.

Cream. Not the sweet kind from a tub. But THICK, milky stuff that came from a porcelain cup. I had never had cream before, and it was an immediate love affair. I must admit that every time I saw cream in the store, or used some in my coffee, or made a quiche, I thought it would be far better paired with that ever elusive dessert.

You think I am kidding- but I am seriously NOT. I have looked for this dessert for years. When google arrived as a gift to the universe, I immediately put it to use.

"German Desserts"
"Desserts that use cream"
"jello-like dessert that is not Gelatin and is German"
"German dessert with fruit and cream"
"Please oh magic googler, find me the dessert of my dreams"

and I came up empty.

But all great stories have good endings:

SERVES 8 1 (or 5 if you are really feeling like sharing)

2 1/4 lbs currants or raspberries or brambleberries or strawberries or sour cherries or plums (assorted red fruits, in any combination)
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste, depending on the tartness of the fruit)
1 quart water
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup rum (optional)
milk or cream, to serve with the dessert
Wash fruit and pick through for stems (reserve 3/4 cup).
Combine the remaining fruit with water (reserving 1 cup), and sugar in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and cook fruit over medium heat until done but still holding its shape.
Sweeten to taste with more sugar, if needed.
Stir corn starch into reserved water until dissolved and stir into the juice.
Bring to boil, cook until thickened, and remove from heat.
Blend in the rum if desired.
Mash reserved, uncooked fruit in blender and stir into the thickened juice.
Eat Rote Grutze either hot or cold and serve with cold milk or cream.


Gwen said...

I made this for myself last night. Like you I ate it all. I just used frozen mixed berries. I want to try cherries next time. I didn't like the little raspberry seeds (but I ate it all anyway, did I mention that?). I also used half and half since I already had that laying around to drizzle over the top (in the shape of a smiley face). Thanks for sharing! I thought this would make an awesome holiday breakfast or dessert item. Just think, you could color the cream green and artistically draw a green tree on top of the bright red pudding. Wouldn't that be awesome.

Gwen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Therese Z said...

Really old item to be commenting on, but it surprised me. That's "Kissel" which my family thinks of as a Russian dish.

It's essentially raspberry or strawberry juice (or a mix) stiffened and then served with thick cream or unsweetened whipped cream on top.

It's very powerful in taste. When I was little, I didn't like it unless the whipped cream was sweetened, so we got ours out a spray can while the adults puddled regular cream on top and around it.

Haven't had it for years.